Candles have been used since the time of the Ancient Egyptians. They’ve been a tremendous source of light since then, contributing to many discoveries and findings. However, two extremely important components work together to light the candle: the wax and the string. But why is wax used in candles?
Wax, in other words, can be called the fuel of the candle. Thus, without it, there would be no light. Because when we ignite the wick, the fire melts the wax into a liquid form that the wick absorbs. So, the candle can only burn while the liquid wax is still there. And when it comes to the best type of wax, paraffin makes the best wax.
Without the wax, there would be no candles. The wax is there to slow down the burning process of the wick. Without it, the wick would just burn for a little while and then vanish with the flame. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. To know more, you’ll have to know the science behind it.
Why Is Wax Used In Candles?
We can consider wax to be the soul of a candle. It is flammable, contains carbon, and comes in a solid form. But when heated, the wax becomes fluid and acts as the fuel for the candle. Without wax, candles would not be able to produce any light for such a long time.
The wax that we use covers the wick. The two of them together form the candle. Thus, when you light a candle, the melting wax goes through combustion, producing light and heat. The interesting part is that you can use any form of oil to make wax. Vegetables, soybeans, you name it! This explains why there are so many choices when producing a candle.
If we have to name the oldest form of wax, then beeswax has been used in the production of candles for thousands of years. The more modern forms of wax, which are made from coconut and especially petroleum, are mostly in use these days.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all wax works in the same manner. Every type of candle wax has its own set of attributes. They can be positive or negative. It depends on how long they burn, how much fragrance they can achieve, etc.
Which Wax Burns The Longest?
Even though beeswax is the oldest form of wax in candles, it, unfortunately, does not last the longest. When it comes to burning longer than the others, soy wax has the longest burn time. But these days, there has been more enhancement in wax formation. We are now putting together brand-new ingredients to achieve an even longer burn time.
But the wax is not the only factor that pertains to how long your candle will last. So, even if you buy a candle with wax that has a very slow burning time, the burn process will not be the same if you keep it at a very hot temperature.
It just goes to show that the environment plays a significant role and greatly affects the burn process of the candle. And it’s not just the environment either. The wick plays a major role here as well. You’ll find that wooden wicks produce a lower and hence slower flame compared to the others. This means that you can use this wick to slow down the burn.
Even containers play a huge role as well. So, it’s not only the wax that allows the candle to burn slower. However, it is the key factor. If the wax is not proper, the rest of the components will fall short eventually.
Best Types Of Wax To Be Used In Candles
There have been many variations of wax since the formation of candles. Each type of wax has features that we can put to use for different applications. It depends on what type of candle you want to make. And the most prominent fact here is that all of these candles would be of no value if we did not use wax in the first place.
As we previously covered, beeswax is the oldest form of wax that has been used in candles for thousands of years. Before that time, the only option was to just put a wick in grease and hope for a rushlight.
It doesn’t sound very efficient. But they were able to get the job done until the wax was used. And it did change the game for civilization, as they finally had light they could use at any time.
Beeswax gives a naturally sweet fragrance and you can purchase this in slabs or blocks. You will also be able to buy them in pre-rolled sheets. But the biggest disadvantage to using beeswax is that it is not that affordable.
- Soy Wax
If you want to go for a more affordable option, then soy wax is the one to embrace. And when it comes to soy wax, the blend needs to have 51% soy to be considered soy wax.
Even though soy wax is comparatively new in the market, it has caused a storm and holds a strong position. It all started back in the 1990s when people were demanding more natural candles and the use of paraffin and beeswax was in decline. Most of the soy wax you’ll come across is in container candles.
- Paraffin Wax
Of all the waxes, paraffin is the most versatile option. We can use it in making any candles. It is a by-product of the crude oil refinement process. But at the same time, it’s not necessarily toxic. Due to its versatility, paraffin can be used in many different applications. Be it a container, a pillar, or even a votive.
When you go to a store, most of the candles you see there are probably made from paraffin wax. But due to it being a by-product of crude oil refinement, it has not gained universal acceptance, especially by environmentalists.
- Gel Wax
Gel wax is quite interesting. It comes in a transparent form, so it looks very aesthetic. It performs just like any other candle. Due to its structure, many will deem it to be ideal for containers. But these days, gel wax is also available for pillar candles.
But if we consider the structure, gel wax is not a form of wax. It is just a mixture of resin and mineral oils. But not everyone has the right to make gel candles. The Penreco company holds the patent for gel wax. So, most of the gel candles you see, the wax is from them.
It is similar to other wax types, but the difference is the fact that it’s transparent. You can even use the gel wax to make novelty candles that might look like water or even beer.
Is Candle Wax Safe?
Most of the candle wax that you buy these days is not made from any toxic ingredients. Even though paraffin wax releases small amounts of volatile organic compounds into the air when burning, it’s not a cause for concern. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful. Just because they may smell good doesn’t mean you can go ahead and ingest them.
But if you’re still worried, there are many other environment-friendly options for you to choose from. Natural waxes made from coconut oil or beeswax are ideal if you’re worried about indoor air pollution. But if you do ever feel unwell after burning a candle, I recommend that you immediately seek medical help.
We have been using wax in candles for generations. Without it, there would be no candles in the first place. And after reaching the end of this article, I hope you now know why is wax used in candles. It’s a crucial component, along with the wick.
So that’s it for today. Thank you for giving this article a read. I hope you have an excellent day ahead!