Six Types of Candle Wax and When to Use Them

Person pouring melted wax into candle containers

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If you are venturing into the exciting world of candle making, one key factor to consider is what type of wax is best suited for the type of candle you want to make. There are many different waxes available on the market, from classic beeswax and widely-used paraffin, to the more recently popular options such as soy and coconut wax. Each of the waxes has their own characteristics and properties that make them a good choice for making particular types of candles. Some are better for making pillar candles while others work well if you're using containers. Some waxes are colorless and odorless and carry added color and scent well, while others have a natural scent and color that doesn't need an additive.

With more people conscious about the effects that candles can have on air quality in their home, there has been much debate about what waxes are most clean-burning and environmentally-friendly. Some are made from 100% natural, renewable sources and are biodegradable, releasing no toxins into the air, and even purify it! Others however, do release soot and chemicals into the air and don't have quite as clean a burn. Whatever type of candle you are making, our comprehensive candle wax guide will help you find the right choice. Homemade candles make for wonderful gifts and great decorative accents for your home, and candle making can be both a fun hobby and a true art form.

  • 01 of 06

    Beeswax

    Person rolling beeswax candle

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    Best for: pillar and taper candles

    Beeswax is one of the most popular candle making waxes and has been for centuries. It has a subtle honey scent and signature golden color that's instantly recognizable. If you are looking for a natural wax to use, beeswax is an excellent option.

    Beeswax candles also have the longest burn time and produce a warm-toned flame that doesn't give off any smoke, which is good for both your home and the environment. You can use this wax for numerous types of candles, but it is particularly well suited for pillar and taper candles as it doesn't drip very much and is therefore great for candle holders and seasonal wreaths.

  • 02 of 06

    Soy Wax

    Soy wax on white paper with a wooden spoon

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    Best for: container candles

    Soy wax is one of the most popular waxes on the candle market today. It is a 100% natural wax made from soy beans, a natural and renewable source, which makes it an eco-friendly choice. One of the best things about soy wax is that fact that it has a soot-free burn. It is also a slow-burning wax, so while soy candles do tend to be more expensive, they last for longer.

    Soy wax usually comes in the form of flakes and is easy to work with. It burns at 120 degrees Fahrenheit and the best way to use it is for container candles. If you are using jars, tins or teacups for your candles, or you're making tea light candles, soy wax is a great choice. It is also a very good scent carrier and using it for scented candles will give you a pure-smelling candle.

  • 03 of 06

    Paraffin Wax

    Burning tea light candles

    Kinek00 / Getty Images

    Best for: colorful, scented candles of all types

    Paraffin wax is the most widely used and most inexpensive of all the waxes used for candle making. If you want to make scented candles that are highly saturated in color, paraffin wax is the way to go as it holds both color and scent very well. It is a highly versatile wax that can be used for everything from container candles to taper and pillar candles.

    Paraffin wax is a byproduct of petroleum and releases soot when it burns, which has raised some questions regarding its effects on the environment. Paraffin candles continue to be sold however, as does paraffin wax for the purpose of candle making.

  • 04 of 06

    Gel (Wax)

    Colorful gel candles

    Dinodia Photo / Getty Images

    Best for: container candles

    If you want to make highly decorative candles, consider using gel. Technically, it's not a wax but a mix of resin and mineral oil that creates the see-through look that gel candles are known for. This material is a great choice for clear container candles, as you can add various small objects such as dried flowers, seashells or berries into the containers before you pour in the gel, and they'll stay visible as the gel firms up.

    Gel candles give off a very bright light, so bright in fact that it's almost twice as bright as that of a regular wax candle. They also have a very slow burn, again, they burn for almost twice the time of a regular wax candle, but like paraffin candles, they release soot as they burn.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Palm Wax

    Purple, green and blue pillar candles on shelves

    Philippe Intraligi / Eye Em / Getty Images

    Best for: free-standing candles such as pillars, scented candles

    Similarly to soy wax, palm wax has become a popular choice in candle making in recent years because it burns cleanly and is an eco-friendly, sustainable choice. Compared to other waxes, especially paraffin wax, palm wax is quite expensive. It does however produce high-quality candles that have a long burn time.

    Palm wax carries scent well so it is a great option if you are making scented candles. It's also a strong, firm and durable wax, which makes it especially good for pillar candles and other types of candles that are free-standing and do not have a container.

  • 06 of 06

    Coconut Wax

    White candle with wooden wick in a clear glass container

    July Prokopiv / Getty Images

    Best for: container candles, scented candles

    Coconut wax is an eco-friendly, vegan and sustainable wax choice for candle making. It releases very little soot as it burns, making it a safe choice for your home. It also has a slow and even burn. While you may think that it naturally has to smell like coconut, this colorless wax is actually odorless and carries scent very well, so it's a good option for making scented candles. It is often combined with soy wax and is best suited for making container candles.

Article Sources
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  1. Dalziel, Chris. The Beeswax Workshop: How to Make Your Own Natural Candles, Cosmetics, Cleaners, Soaps, Healing Balms and More. Simon & Schuster, 2016.

  2. Suaria G, Aliani S, Merlino S and Abbate M. The Occurrence of Paraffin and Other Petroleum Waxes in the Marine Environment: A Review of the Current Legislative Framework and Shipping Operational PracticesFront. Mar. Sci., vol. 5, no. 94, 2018. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2018.00094