Researching this article has definitely been eye opening! In trying to find the pros and cons of soy candles over paraffin candles, I discovered more that I did not know, especially about paraffin!
To begin with, paraffin comes in 3 states, solid, liquid and gas. The simplest paraffin molecule is that of methane, CH4, a gas at room temperature. Heavier paraffin molecules such as octanes (or kerosene) are liquids. Another one of its liquid forms is known as mineral oil, which as everyone knows is used for treating constipation. And the way we all know paraffin best is in the solid form, wax.
There are many uses for paraffin-in crayons, as a food additive (in candy, cheese coatings, etc.), jet fuel, forensics, coating surfboards, skis and snowboards, and as a propellant for bullets through the chamber. I found many more uses for paraffin but I will not list them here.
Paraffin is not changed by adding most other chemicals to it, but it does burn readily. Because of the relatively low melting point of paraffin, stearic acid was added to elevate the melting point; this enabled the manufacture of free standing candles such as tapers and pillars. The lower melting paraffin (without stearic acid) is used more in container candles. This allows candle makers and manufacturers to tailor their own blends using their own blend of wax additives. This in turn lets the candlemaker have more freedom from batch to batch.
Soy has a very unique background also. The first thing I think about when I hear the word soy is the bean. It has been shown to have many healthful benefits and is good to eat. Soy is also used as a base for some infant formulas, and as feed for livestock. We use soybean oil for cooking too. What I did not realize was that after WWI Henry Ford was a leader in soybean research. He had chemists come up with a way to produce artificial silk from soy and even had a suit made from it! Also he used soybean oil for painting his automobiles. This research led to the development of soy milk, ice cream and non-dairy whipped topping.
So there we have a brief history of paraffin and soy; but what about the advantages and disadvantages of each when it comes to a candle? The only advantage that I could find for using paraffin was that the manufacturer could tailor his use of fragrance additives to make his own unique blend. Paraffin, being a petroleum product, has soot as a by-product of burning, which can blacken walls and place carcinogens into the air you breathe. Soy burns clean and is nontoxic. Soy candles last longer because of their lower melting point, thereby enabling the candle to burn longer, as much as three times longer! So you get more for your money! Soybean oil is biodegradable and cleans up easily with a little soap and water; have you ever tried getting a paraffin wax stain out of something? It is not easy, if even possible. Lastly, soy is a renewable resource and growing soybeans benefits our farmers. The only people that benefit from using paraffin are the oil companies and they already have enough of our money!
I have come to the conclusion that the way to go is soy; therefore I offer only soy candles on my site, Peaceful Being. Feel free to check them out-loads of styles and fragrances from which to choose!