We are just developing a candle to add to our range of Bees Wax products, but we were just wondering what other types of wax can be used in candles… can you use any wax?
First of all, what exactly is wax? Well, wax is a term to describe secretions from plants and animals which contain fatty acids and fatty alcohols. There is obviously more to this, however as we’re not chemists we can’t go in to it further! Many animals produce wax, most famously Bees, however other animals do too, including whales and cows. Also Lanolin is a wax which comes from wool. As we said before, wax also comes from plants, in particular the Palm (carnauba wax) but also soybean, jojoba and candelilla plants.
You can derive waxes from Petroleum, such a paraffin, montan and polythene. However at Finlay Bee we are uncomfortable with the use of fossil fuels, and whenever we can choose an alternative to use of fossil fuels we will do.
So now we understand a little of what wax is, can you use any wax in candles? Well, let’s look back in time a little and the development of candles and how different waxes were used.
Candles were originally formed from animals fats such as cow and sheep fats, although the Chinese were using beeswax during the Tang Dynasty from 618-907AD. The issue with using raw animal fats was the smell and the soot (they burn inefficiently) – Beeswax burns much more efficiently and the smell produced is very pleasant indeed. The whaling industry allowed the use of spermaceti wax to develop in the 18th Century, however this became replaced by Stearin wax (from beef) and paraffin wax.
In the late 20th Century two plant waxes in particular were developed – soy and palm. These burn cleaner and cooler than paraffin wax and many people believe that these vegan waxes produce high quality candles, without the reliance on fossil fuels. At Finlay Bee we agree that we should not be using fossil fuels where we can avoid it. However we also believe there is something magical about beeswax. Beeswax candles are special. And we believe our beeswax candles will be particularly special!
So, to answer the initial question, anything flammable can be used in candle making, from vegetable oil to petrol, however a few different materials have risen to prominence over the years because of their cost, their environmental credentials, their burning qualities and their smells.