It is believed that the earliest wax candles were created in 5000 BC by Egyptians who dipped papyrus leaves into beeswax. Since then candles, specifically, the wax used to produce them, have come a very long way over the years. When we began making candles through a painstaking process of trial and error we learnt copious amounts of information about different types of waxes and began to learn how important wax is in making a better candle. We are one of very few companies to use coconut wax and here’s why…
WHAT IS WAX?
Wax is a flammable carbon-containing solid that becomes liquid when heated above room temperature. As the flame gets hot, molten wax is vapourised and combusted producing heat and light, whilst also releasing oils into the atmosphere if it has been fragranced. There are a mind-boggling array of waxes used for different types of candles from paraffin and soy wax to rice bran wax and coconut wax.
TYPES OF WAX
Paraffin wax is the most commonly used wax in the candle industry due to its low cost, great ability to burn and its ability to retain and throw scents well. At first glance it’s clear why paraffin is so popular in candles, however it is derived directly from petroleum meaning it is an unsustainable source of wax. One of our goals is to create products with sustainable components. The paraffin wax supply chain is linked directly to the fracking and oil drilling industry which contravene our sustainable practices at Fentons & Co. Not to mention, studies have shown burning paraffin can release harmful chemicals such as toluene into the atmosphere.
Soy wax is made from soybeans which are harvested on soybean farms. In the beginning we used soy wax in our candles because we believed it was the best alternative to most of the other waxes on the market. It burns great, has a relatively low cost, it is easy to handle in production and has pleasant aesthetics and a strong scent throw. It has also become ubiquitous in candles due to being vegan friendly. However, the WWF (environmentally minded group) have raised concerns over deforestation in relation to the increasing demand for soy, especially in South America. Because soybeans have many versatile uses and demand is increasing, there are also fears of monoculture farming practices where unhealthy amounts of pesticides and fertilizers are used to keep up with demand.
Beeswax is believed to be the oldest wax used for the purpose of making candles. It is a byproduct of honey found in honeybee hives and is one of the most sustainable types of wax. Demand for beeswax stimulates bee conservation and because it is a leftover product from honey production, no bees are harmed or hurt in the process. Beeswax is very hard when solid so can be mixed with softer waxes to provide strength. It was a no brainer to use beeswax to harden our coconut wax formula.
So we’ve talked about paraffin, soy and beeswax and even mentioned rice bran wax but what exactly is coconut wax?
Coconut wax comes from coconut oil which has been hydrogenated and refined. This involves pressing the flesh of raw coconuts to obtain coconut oil and adding hydrogen to its molecules. The wax is then refined to remove the coconut scent while the hydrogenation increases the melt point from 25°c to 38°c. We then blend the coconut wax with a little bit of beeswax to bring up the melt point further to avoid the candle liquefying in warm weather.
Why we use coconut wax at Fentons & Co.
Coconut wax is often overlooked because it is expensive but we found it particularly attractive due to its environmental and ecological benefits. Our coconut wax is obtained using natural processes from naturally grown coconuts. Our coconuts are sourced from the Philippines where ¼ of the Filipino population work in various coconut based industries. The Filipino government has erected intense government practices to ensure the safety and sustainability of coconut's and their supply chain. Most importantly, coconuts are one of the most sustainable crops to harvest, meaning we aren’t disrupting its ecological environment. On top of this, when used as a candle, coconut wax burns very slowly and cleanly meaning you get to enjoy your candle for longer and it gives an extremely strong scent throw.
Rarely do you think about wax when you buy a candle but it is a candles largest component so it's important to know what it is we are burning in our homes. For us coconut wax is the best option due to having a slow, clean burn with excellent fragrance throw. Not to mention it is highly sustainable! Carefully selecting the correct coconut wax makes a Fentons & Co. candle great.