Made with a generous amount of citronella, citronella candles are perfect for getting rid of all the mosquitoes during the summertime. What’s even better is that making your own citronella candle is pretty easy! But, what goes into making citronella candles? Most importantly, what is the best wax to make citronella candles? Let’s find out!
The primary wax used to make citronella candles is soy wax. Soy wax burns cleanly and melts at higher temperatures, making the candle last longer and increasing its overall effectiveness. Moreover, soy wax also has a high fragrance load, thus repelling pests and mosquitoes better.
Soy wax has many benefits. But, there are many candle waxes available that can make candles, so why soy specifically? What are the benefits of using this type of wax? Keep reading to find out!
Citronella Candles: Which Wax To Use?
The wide and common use of citronella is to ward off unnecessary pests. The fragrance of citronella repels mosquitoes, making it an essential item for outdoor activities during peak summer. And for this candle to last a long time, it needs a good base. That’s where the wax comes into the picture.
Good wax for essential candles will burn for a long time but will melt slowly. Soy wax provides exactly that! Soy wax lasts longer than typical paraffin wax because of its clean and slow burn. Thus, you get a candle that burns and lasts longer.
Overall, soy gets more ‘green’ points due to its sustainable factors. Due to its organic content, soy burns cleanly and doesn’t emit any toxins, unlike paraffin wax. So, if you want to make your citronella candle with natural materials and without any toxic or harmful chemicals, then soy is the way to go.
Essentially, soy wax is a vegetable wax made from soybeans. Mostly made in America, soy wax is a native harvest. After harvesting the beans, they go through a process of cleaning, cracking, and rolling them into flakes. Then the flakes are hydrogenated to make soy wax.
Hydrogenating the flakes makes the melting point of the oil quite high, higher than typical waxes. This makes soy wax solid at room temperature and hence makes it a suitable candle wax. Due to its pure content, soy wax stays true to the ‘environmentally friendly’ tag.
However, just like any other wax, soy wax has its pros and cons, which will be discussed in the section below.
Although soy has many beneficial qualities, it has some downsides as well. Hence, everything comes down to weighing the qualities of the wax and what your priorities are. Here is a comprehensive list of the pros and cons of soy wax:
- Soy burns slowly
- It burns cleanly
- Soy wax is a good fragrance carrier
- The wax is made from renewable resources
- Soy wax is eco-friendly, sustainable, and carbon-neutral
Using 100% soy wax means your wax will be eco-friendly and will not have any artificial ingredients in it. This is because soy wax is made from environmentally friendly resources.
If you’re all about sustainability, then good news! Soy is not scarce, so the product is completely renewable.
In comparison, paraffin wax contains petroleum and is non-renewable. Petroleum also releases harmful toxins into the air. Although all candles emit some black soot, soy burns cleaner and hence emits less soot. So, using soy wax makes the environment cleaner!
Another reason why soy wax is best for citronella candles is that soy wax is an excellent scent carrier. Soy wax doesn’t require any chemical amplifiers to emit fragrances.
See, soy wax is brittle so making free-standing candles like pillar candles can be a bit difficult due to its nature.
Additionally, 100% natural soy wax also takes some time to burn. Due to high hydrogenation, soy burns slowly and forms smaller flames.
Overall, after weighing the odds, soy is still the best option for citronella candles for me. If you are worried about the cons of using soy wax, here are a few ways to get around it:
If you want to make standing citronella candles like pillar candles or if you want a stronger flame from your candle, simply use a blend of soy wax with other waxes. Blends of wax usually help with the structure of the candle and its flammability. Using soy wax and a palm wax blend will help you get the best of both worlds!
If your concern is the melting point of soy wax, then you can also use a blend of soy wax and beeswax in an 80:20 or 85:15 ratio. This blend will raise the melting point of the wax to a high temperature suited for warmer days. This will help the wax stay solid on such days.
If you want a clean and long-lasting container citronella candle, pure soy wax is the way to go. As container candles have support from the container to stay upright, the brittle nature of soy wax won’t be a concern. Additionally, if a slower yet cleaner burn is not a problem for you, more reasons to choose soy!
If you have any old candles left lying around, gather all the wax from those candles and melt them together with your soy wax. This increases the renewable and environmentally-friendly aspect of your candle. It will also give your pure soy wax a blend.
Paraffin wax is made from petroleum. As petroleum is not a carbon-neutral wax, it can produce some toxic flames. Paraffin wax also emits a large amount of soot when it burns. It’s especially not ideal for people who might have allergies to such toxins.
The soot from paraffin wax also deposits in the corner of containers and chimneys or roofs of one’s house. This is disadvantageous as discarding this soot is tiresome and requires extra attention and care. So, although paraffin wax is a widely known wax for candles, soy is better in every aspect.
If you reach a dead-end while searching for soy wax and don’t have any other option but to use another wax, only then opt for this alternative. As nothing really can fully substitute soy wax.
Palm wax is also made from natural oils, i.e., palm oil. This wax carries many of soy wax’s properties, like its brittleness, its eco-friendly nature, and its natural origin.
Being just as eco-friendly, beeswax is one of the oldest candle wax out there. Beeswax is a good base for container citronella candles. Additionally, since beeswax is derived from honey, the wax also carries a sweet aroma that makes it a naturally fragrant wax. However, the strong scent from the wax may overshadow the citronella so it’s not the best alternative.
Although highly discouraged, paraffin wax is the last option as a soy wax alternative. All its environmental effects aside, the wax gives good support to candles and burns bright.
So, what is the best wax to make citronella candles? For me, it’s soy! With this wax, you can easily make a DIY candle at home. Soy wax burns at a lower temperature and lasts a long time.
Soy candles are also fully biodegradable and sustainable. So, order from online stores or drive to your nearest convenience store to get soy wax and make a citronella candle at home on your own!