When making homemade candles, one of the most important decisions is choosing the right wax. The wax type affects burn time, fragrance throw, appearance, and more. Two of the most popular options for candle making are coconut wax and soy wax. But which one is better? This article explores the key differences between coconut wax and soy wax to help you determine which is the best wax for your homemade candles.

What Is Coconut Wax, and How Is It Used in Candles?

Coconut wax is a natural vegetable wax made from coconut oil. Unlike paraffin wax, which is a byproduct of petroleum refining, coconut wax is a sustainable, renewable resource. Coconut wax first became popular among homemade candle makers thanks to its exceptional fragrance throw and clean burn.

Coconut wax has a high oil content, which allows more fragrance oil to bind to the wax, making it ideal for scented candles. This results in homemade candles with a stronger scent. The natural texture and finish of coconut wax also produce smooth candles with a glossy appearance. Additionally, coconut wax is renowned for its superb jar adhesion and stability, even in hot environments.

These beneficial properties make coconut wax, a type of wax derived from coconut oil, an excellent choice for container candles. From mason jars to tin cans and glass votives, coconut wax performs extremely well in candle vessels. The wax finish gives it a transparent, crystalline effect. And coconut wax holds up to frequent heating and cooling cycles, so the candle retains its original form with a long shelf life.

What Is Soy Wax, and How Does It Differ From Coconut Wax?

Soy wax is another vegetable-based wax, but it is made from hydrogenated soybean oil instead of coconut oil. Soy wax first became popular in the 1990s as a homemade candle wax due to its status as a renewable, sustainable resource.

The main difference between soy wax and coconut wax is the wax structure. Soy wax has a lower oil content with more saturated bonds. This makes soy wax harder and denser than the soft, oily texture of coconut wax.

The tighter molecular structure of soy wax means it is less likely to bend and bow when exposed to heat. So soy wax candles hold their shape and burn evenly. Soy wax also contracts more cleanly from the glass as it cools after being poured.

However, the dense structure of soy wax may inhibit fragrance oils from binding as readily to the wax. Soy candles tend to have a lighter scent than coconut wax candles.

Coconut Wax vs. Soy Wax: Key Differences

To summarize the differences:

  • Appearance: Coconut wax is glossy; soy wax is opaque.
  • Texture: Coconut wax is soft, oily, and pliable; soy wax is hard and rigid.
  • Fragrance throw: coconut wax has a stronger scent throw; soy wax is more subtle.
  • Burn quality: coconut wax burns clean but may tunnel or pool; soy wax has a consistent burn.
  • Melting point: coconut wax melts at around 76–82°F; soy wax melts at 115–135°F.
  • Price: Coconut wax is generally more expensive than soy wax.

So in choosing between the two waxes for homemade candles, crafters must weigh factors like appearance, scent throw, and burn performance based on the type of candle vessel and environment.

Which Wax is Better for Container Candles?

For candles poured into jars and tins, coconut wax produces stunning results. The glossy finish and transparency of coconut wax candles make homemade container candles look professional and elegant. Coconut wax also excels at releasing fragrance from a candle in an enclosed vessel, making it suitable for scented candle formulations.

Additionally, coconut wax adheres superbly to glass and metal containers. This minimizes issues with cracks, frosting, or candle sweating. Container candles made from coconut wax feature vivid colors and clarity, bringing out the best in decorative vessels.

So if your priority is to create impressive container candles, coconut wax is likely the best choice.

Which Wax is Better for Votive or Pillar Candles?

Soy wax really shines when crafting standing candles exposed on all sides, like pillars and votives. The hardy density of soy wax enables strong mold adhesion and stability in upright candles. This allows crafters to create more elaborate candle shapes and designs without issues like bending or bowing.

Additionally, soy wax contracts away from the glass or metal cleanly after cooling. This helps prevent frosting and stickiness on the sides of votive holders, enhancing the performance of scented candles. Soy wax also consistently burns edge-to-edge without tunneling, thanks to its tight structure. This makes soy wax ideal for molded pillars and votive candles.

What About Making Blended Soy-Coconut Wax Candles?

Blending soy wax with coconut wax combines the beneficial properties of each for homemade candles. Popular blends range from 25% coconut wax mixed with 75% soy wax up to 50-50 ratios. Coconut and soy wax help improve the appearance, scent throw, and burn pool of soy pillar candles. Soy wax, made from soybean oil, boosts the rigidity and burn consistency of coconut container candles.

Finding the right balance of each wax type tailored to your candle design takes testing. But a blended soy-coconut wax candle can yield exceptional results by minimizing the downsides of each natural wax.

When Should You Avoid Coconut Wax or Soy Wax?

While coconut wax and soy wax each have their advantages for different candle styles, there are also certain situations when they may not perform optimally:

  • Avoid soy wax for container candles prone to frosting or wet spots.
  • Don’t use coconut wax for elaborately molded pillars or taper candles.
  • Don’t place coconut candles in extremely warm environments near 120°F+.
  • Don’t expect a strong scent from soy wax in unenclosed candle vessels.

Understanding performance expectations relative to your candle design helps ensure the best results from each natural vegetable wax.

Takeaway Tips for Choosing Between Coconut Wax and Soy Wax

  • Coconut wax makes beautiful container candles but may bend or distort in pillars.
  • Soy wax holds intricate shapes well and burns cleanly in votives or pillars.
  • Coconut wax throws scent extremely effectively from jars and tins.
  • Soy wax fragrances tend to be lighter and more subtle in open candle vessels.
  • Blending the two types of wax helps maximize the benefits of homemade scented candles.
  • Always test wax combinations and vessel suitability before mass production.

With a bit of experimentation, you can leverage coconut wax and soy wax for delightful homemade candles with your choice of color, shape, and scent. Determining priority factors for appearance, fragrance, and stability will dictate whether coconut wax, soy wax, or a blend works best for your creation. But both natural vegetable waxes allow hobbyists and professional candle makers to produce gifts and products that rival store-bought paraffin candles.

Summary of Key Points:

  • Coconut wax comes from coconut oil; soy wax comes from soybean oil.
  • Coconut wax has a glossy, oily texture; soy wax is hard and opaque.
  • Coconut wax adheres well to containers; soy wax contracts cleanly from vessels.
  • Coconut wax has an excellent scent throw; soy wax is more subtle.
  • Coconut wax can tunnel or pool; soy wax burns evenly.
  • Coconut wax suits container candles best; soy wax fits pillars and votives.
  • Blending the two waxes helps maximize benefits for homemade candles.

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