DIY wax projects focus primarily on candles made from paraffin wax or beeswax. Most candles on the market today are made from paraffin, which is a by-product of petroleum and oil production. People more interested in natural living, eco-friendly handicrafts, and home health turn to organic beeswax with increasing frequency. If you create homemade wax products, take this opportunity to learn the pros and cons of each type of wax before choosing materials for your next project.
Beeswax Advantages Explained
Organic beeswax comes directly from beehives. Its harvest does not endanger or hurt the bees in any way. This natural ingredient does not need any chemical inclusion to make it suitable for candles or other DIY wax projects. The environmentally conscious advantages continue into the home when you use beeswax products themselves. Unlike paraffin wax, beeswax does not let off any toxic chemicals when they burn.
Other pros of triple filtrated beeswax have to do with candle specifically. Since they do not drip like other types of wax, they burn brighter and for a longer period of time with less mess. If melted beeswax does end up on your table or other surface, the lack of oils means no permanent stains. The only potential disadvantage is upfront cost. However, when you weigh it against the longevity and other benefits of beeswax, you find it is a much better value than other options.
Natural beeswax that is harvested straight from the hive comes in dark brown/ yellow color. Beeswax is then filtered many times to get rid of any propolis, old combs, cocoon remains and pollen. After a thorough filtration process the wax end up lighter in color, ranging from light yellow to white.
The Problems With Paraffin Wax
Paraffin is cheap. The process to collect it from crude oil requires additional treatments with potentially hazardous chemicals, bleaches, and artificial additives to create a wax usable in candles. These facts do provide an advantage in that you can find colored and scented candles made from paraffin more easily.
All of that sounds bad enough without considering that all of these things are then released into your home and the air that you and your family breathes every time you set it alight. People with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues should not be around paraffin wax candles.
Dr M Enamul Hossain of Memorial University of Newfoundland, conducted a comparative pathway analysis of paraffin wax and beeswax for industrial applications. This analysis focuses on many factors including: sustainability, toxicity and effects on health for each wax. Long story short, the analysis proves that there is a clear winner: beeswax, as it is sustainably produced, reusable and produces clean gases that are harmless to humans and wildlife when burned. Paraffin however, is the complete opposite.
It is important to note that paraffin wax has been used for candles for an extremely long time and has not caused any massive health disasters. The toxicity is difficult for sensitive individuals to handle and may have a cumulative effect. Even discounting the toxicity, paraffin wax has other disadvantages. It melts very quickly, drips a lot, and therefore burns out more quickly than beeswax. This also opens up the possibility for damaged candleholders, furniture, or other surfaces.
The next time you purchase materials for your eco-friendly candle making or other homemade wax product project, reach for beeswax first. Not only do you get the benefits of environmentally friendly sourcing, but you can also eliminate many of the respiratory and allergic issues associated with paraffin wax use.