Why Paraffin? Is It Really Safe?

Recently, both with customers and in the wider candlemaking community, the topic of the safety of various kinds of waxes has been under discussion. At Sihaya & Company, we mostly use paraffin wax.

We always want you to feel comfortable with our products, so let's take a look into the safety of what goes into making them!

Why Paraffin?

It's simple! Paraffin wax is safe and has good scent throw.

There have been a lot of misconceptions about paraffin wax since soy came on the market. I want to make it absolutely clear from square one that there is absolutely nothing unsafe about soy wax. That said, the idea that it is safer, more eco-friendly, and more "natural" than paraffin is mostly greenwashed marketing. And, vegetarians and vegans take note: many soy waxes sold to makers are non-vegan. This is also true of all coco-apricot wax sold in the US. Though for proprietary reasons, many supply manufacturers are unfortunately less than transparent about how exactly the animal products are used in production. To my fellow chandlers: if your wax is produced by Calwax, it is confirmed non-vegan, although several alternatives like 464 and 444 are vegan-friendly.

Most of the soy that is used in candlemaking is sprayed with pesticide and then repeatedly soaked in chemical baths in order to process it into wax. That doesn't make it unsafe, however-- the finished product of both soy AND paraffin waxes have been shown to be safe for home use. It's just in no way more "natural" at the end of the process than refined paraffin wax, which is also safely used in cosmetic and food prep applications.

At the end of the day, every peer-reviewed scientific emissions study done on candles has borne out that both paraffin and soy waxes are safe for use and do not emit unhealthy levels of any chemicals that are harmful-- check out the 2007 Oekometric Emissions Study for the science! Even though paraffin is a byproduct of petroleum production (meaning that it is repurposed from parts that would otherwise be discarded), due to the magic of refinement, the finished wax does not contain benzene or toluene in a concentration that would be carcinogenic or otherwise a health concern. So while you may see many types of wax marketed as "clean" or "non-toxic" (often accompanied by scary-sounding psuedoscience about paraffin), always look past the buzzwords to the science!

“The study found all of the waxes burned cleanly and safely, with no appreciable difference in burning behaviors. Their combustion byproducts were virtually identical in composition and quantity… far below the most restrictive of any applicable indoor-air standards.”

Our view is that since both soy and paraffin waxes are safe, which wax a company uses really comes down to the personal preference of the maker. Because each wax has different strengths and weaknesses depending on the application, many makers use both! For instance, we do blend in some soy when we make wax melts, because soy is a more brittle wax and does better in many molded applications! Creating a parasoy blend for our melts gives us the best of both worlds: the scent throw of paraffin, and the crisp snap of soy.

We really love our paraffin blend, which maximizes scent diffusion, has very consistent pouring properties, and has great container adhesion. That's why we use paraffin. 

Want to learn more? Check out this article: Soy vs Paraffin: The Big Debate.

Tell us about your fragrance!

We use pthalate-free and paraben-free synthetic fragrance oils to craft our own house blends.

Many folks have the conception that essential oils, being "natural," are safer for use in candles, but in many cases, this is not true! There are indeed a handful of essential oils that are safe for candle use-- in particular, lavender and most citruses, which is why they are so popular with companies that produce candles with essential oils. But many essential oils are are not safe to be used in candles, and can create respiratory distress when burned and inhaled, or may even have neurotoxic effects on pets. We definitely don't want that!

We have decided to primarily use tested and safe synthetic fragrance oils for this reason, and also because using fragrance oil allows us to access a wider variety of safe notes with which to create our house blends. All of our suppliers provide IFRA safety sheets for every component we use. That said, many of our synthetics contain small amounts of essential oils as well, and when we purchase those components, it is always from a reputable candle supplier who supplies those IFRA safety sheets so that we can confirm the finished product is safe for use when burned. In fact, one of our biggest suppliers is developing a Clean Scents line that is even more more stringent than IFRA safety standards! That's pretty cool!

Ok, but glitter?

Yup! We purchase specially made glitter from a candle supplier that is safe for use. We only do a fine overspray, as any more can overwhelm the wick and impact proper carbon combustion. Beware of candles that use big, chunky craft glitters-- beautiful as they are, they can be fire hazards!

That said, we have been steadily testing bio-glitter options. So far, we've tried two different kinds that did not perform well. A lot of bio-glitter is seaweed-based and interacts with wax in a way that it gets kind of sticky and gummy after a while, which impacts the candle's performance. Not great. But we're currently testing a corn-based bio glitter. We probably won't have a final verdict for another few months, but we're keeping our fingers crossed that we will be able to offer bio-glitter options for those of you who would like them by the end of the year!

If you have any other questions, please let us know! 

Warmly,
Chris


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