Written by Grove Collaborative

Soy vs. paraffin wax candles: Which is better?

Last Updated: September 9, 2021


Whatever it may be, candles can set the tone and bring a sense of calm. But do you know if your stock-pile of candles is soy wax or paraffin wax? And what’s the difference?

Depending on the person, the candle aisle is either overwhelming or dream-like. Either way, knowing what is in the candle and its impact on the environment makes for better and more peaceful candle shopping.


There is a longstanding debate about soy wax candles vs. paraffin wax candles. So we’re here to dive in and discover which is better?

First, what is a soy wax candle?

Let’s start with the basics. Soy wax candles, sometimes called paraffin free candles, are made from vegetable soybeans, giving you a 100% natural candle option. There are many benefits to the ingredients and performance of the soy wax, from avoiding toxic chemicals to its burn time.

Soy wax candle benefits

First, soy wax candles leave a smaller footprint on the environment than other candle wax, including paraffin. Since soy wax candles are a byproduct of vegetables, they help to lessen waste and avoid emitting toxic chemicals. Soybeans are biodegradable and a renewable resource as well, reducing the impact on the environment.


Another significant benefit of soy wax is the support to farmers in the United States. Farmers play a considerable part in making soy candles since they produce the soybeans which oils come from to make the candles.

Paraffin wax candles are made of artificial and toxic substances, which fill your home when burned. Thankfully, the natural soy wax produces less soot and is all-natural.


Grove tip: Minimize soot with any candle by trimming wicks every time you’re burning your candle.


And choosing soy wax for safety, health, and sustainability doesn’t mean sacrificing the good stuff. Soy candles still bring a soft glow, lovely smell, and have a longer burn time!


Browse the 7 best soy candles for your home that are top-rated by actual Grove members here.

Shop some of Grove's natural soy candles

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How do you make soy candles?

If you’re up to making your candles, you’ll need wax, jars, dye, fragrance, and wicks.


Make your soy wax candle in a few steps:

  1. Melt your soy wax in a double-boiler, heating to 185 degrees F.
  2. Add a bit of dye to the melted wax and stir.
  3. If you’d like, add a fragrance — pure essential oils works great.
  4. Stir in the fragrance and remove from heat.
  5. Let the wax cool, and place wicks in the bottom of candle jars.
  6. Once wax hits 135 degrees F, pour into your jar(s).
  7. Use a wick bar to keep the wick straight and centered for cooling.
  8. Let candles cool overnight.
  9. Trim wicks each time you light the candle.

Shop some of Grove's natural products that use essential oils

What is a paraffin wax candle?

On the other side of the debate are paraffin wax candles. Traditional candles are usually made with paraffin wax, which contains artificial and toxic substances and isn’t environmentally friendly or healthy.


Paraffin wax candles are cheaper to make; therefore, many companies opt for this wax even with the harmful ingredients. Paraffin contains synthetic fragrances and artificial dyes. Plus, paraffin wax is a byproduct of gasoline and crude oil production, releasing harmful pollutants into the air and effecting your indoor air quality.


Eleven toxins, including two carcinogens, are released into your home from paraffin wax candles. Carcinogens are cancer-promoting substances that have adverse effects no matter the length of exposure.

Paraffin wax candle benefits


The primary redeeming feature of a paraffin candle is its availability. Paraffin candles have been around longer, so they’re more established in-store. While this is true, it will cost more in the long run because of their quicker burn time (vs. soy candles).


So, are paraffin candles bad? They get the job done, providing the ambiance you might be looking for, but the trade-offs are undesirable ingredients that produce unhealthy fumes and a negative impact on the environment.

Which type of wax is better: Soy or paraffin

The overall healthy, safe, and environmentally friendly option is soy wax candles. Burning a candle shouldn’t fill your home with harmful substances. Opt for the soy wax candle for a cost-effective, eco-friendly, clean burn.


Grove tip: If you’re looking for the longest burning candle available, choose soy wax. Per 4 ounces, soy wax candles burn for about 18 hours; paraffin burns for about 15 hours.

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