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Some Insight Into Soy Candles + A (my) Candle Maker's Journey

Hi wanderers and candle lovers! I'm here to write a little bit about our soy candles and their safety, but also to reflect on my journey as a candle maker — it’s on topic, I promise!

From a young age, I was obsessed with fragrance. I loved scented lotions, soaps, and perfumes (lets be real, I was young, it was body spray), but scented candles were my favorite. Looking back, I can remember saving my money to buy them. I would hoard them and ask my mom’s permission to burn them in my room.

Growing up, we did a lot of crafts to pass the long, cold, Northern Minnesota winters. Unsurprisingly, melting wax in the kitchen and pouring candles was one of my favorites. I even remember melting crayons in the wax to give the candles color!

Circa 2014 my first lil candle studio in a closet. A picture of me pouring candles from metal pitcher, with the words "candle makin station" written in chalk above me.

In my twenties, I started making candles as a hobby. With a more discerning eye and larger budget than I had as a child, I did my research, learned about the downsides of my crayon experiments (paraffin, yuck!), and started using quality soy wax. After more than a decade in this business, I want to share my knowledge with you, and answer some of your burning questions about soy wax safety, benefits and more! Lets get into it: 

a gif of blocks of soy wax being loaded into a wax melter

Soy candles are popular, but you may have questions about why. There are actually a number of different types of wax used in candles, and each has its own benefits and downsides. From the 1800s (!) until about 20 years ago, most candles were made from paraffin, a somewhat controversial wax that comes from petroleum or coal. While there are more waxes out there today, many companies still use paraffin. Soy wax, on the other hand, is crafted from soybean oil, making it a natural and more sustainable candle base than traditional paraffin. The texture of it is amazing too, its creamy and buttery and slow burning. 

Creamy and buttery soy wax being carved out of a box

First things first — are soy candles safe?

Absolutely! Soy candles are considered safe for most people and environments. They burn clean and slow and produce minimal soot, unlike their paraffin counterparts. Plus, soy wax is biodegradable, so you can worry less about your impact on the earth. That said, you may have other concerns, so let’s dive in.

Is there any danger in soy candles?

Soy candles are generally safe to use, but like anything, you should definitely follow safety guidelines. Always trim the wick to ¼ inch before lighting (or trim it while burning if you forget), and never leave a burning candle unattended. While there hasn’t been a ton of candle research in the science world, studies have found that candles do not pose any known health risks when burned correctly.

Candles cooling on a rack with clothes pins centering the wick in front of a window.

Are soy wax candles safe to inhale?

Soy candles emit little to no harmful chemicals when burned — other household products and even things like flowers and fruit emit some of the same chemicals, called VOCs — making them safe to inhale for most people. However, if you have respiratory sensitivities, you should always burn candles in well-ventilated spaces or opt for soy candles made with essential oils.

What is the healthiest type of candle?

Soy candles are among the healthiest choices due to their clean burn and minimal soot production. Essential oil soy wax candles or soy candles with wooden wicks are even better if you’re concerned about your health.

Palo Santo candle burning on an table with a plant behind it in front of a window.

Are soy candles bad for indoor air quality?

Many of our customers are worried about indoor air quality, and rightfully so! The short answer is no, soy candles are not bad for your home’s air quality. In fact, they are one of the best options when it comes to candles. They produce fewer toxins and less soot than some other types of wax, and those are the things we worry about contributing to indoor pollution. If you want to burn candles with the least impact on your air, choose unscented or essential oil soy candles.

Honey the blond chihuahua photobombing in front of a burning candle on a table with a little chimnea in front.

Are soy candles safe for dogs and cats?

As a dog parent, I’m often more worried about Honey's health than I am my own. Generally, soy candles are safe for pets like dogs and cats when you burn them responsibly. However, be sure to keep candles out of their reach and never leave your candle or your pet unattended. We know pets can be curious (read: devious), so keep an eye out to avoid accidents.

Can soy candles cause allergies?

Soy candles are less likely to trigger allergies than paraffin candles because they produce fewer allergens (remember those VOCs we talked about?!). However, if you have severe soy allergies you should exercise caution and may want to choose a flame-free option like a reed diffuser for home fragrance.

Can soy candles give you a headache?

Soy candles are known for their gentle and natural scents that rarely cause headaches. However, if you're sensitive to fragrances, consider burning unscented soy candles or one of our milder fragrance options for soothing, headache-free ambiance.

image of a hand lighting a candle on the shelf.

My journey from a small kitchen stovetop operation to two thriving retail stores has really been a dream come true. Along the way, I've learned that soy wax candles aren’t just trendy; they're a beautiful and safe addition to your home! With their clean burn, minimal environmental impact, and versatility, soy candles have earned their place as a beloved staple — I have 3 burning right now.

xx Sarah

P.S. We have a wide range of soy wax offerings in our San Diego and San Francisco stores, but if you want to take your love for fragrance and candles to the next level, you should join us for our candle scent designing events! They're a great way to explore our fragrance oils and create a custom blend in a container that reflects your unique style and personality!

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