Candles are generally much loved in Kenyan homes, originally as a source of lighting during power blackouts but have evolved more into home décor aesthetics & aromatherapy.  A simple whiff of a pleasant, comforting scent, however, can quickly put us into a better mood or even bring back some memories. It’s no wonder that more and more people are drawn to candles, with so many different fragrances, colors, and waxes to experiment with, the possibilities are endless. 

In Kenya, more and more people are venturing into candle making. Be it as a hobby or as a new source of income. The first step is probably the hardest: choosing which wax to use.

Candles are formed from three basic components: wax, fragrance, and wicks. There are several options when it comes to types of waxes, fragrances, and wicks. For some people a lavender scented candle is as important as the purple color they expect the candle to come in, just to enhance their experience. Some waxes, like paraffin, take and hold fragrance better than others, giving them a better scent throw. Other waxes, like soy wax, can mask the fragrance and give a more subtle scent throw.

While this may not be a factor for some, a lot of candle makers feel very passionately about using candle products that are more eco-friendly. This mainly comes into play with the way the wax is sourced

Paraffin Wax

Paraffin wax is the cheapest with the best scent throw but can burn soot and chemicals into the air. 

Paraffin comes from the sludge the bottom of crude oil barrels then further bleached to get its initial white color. As the final by-product of petroleum, paraffin is a non-renewable resource that releases pollutants into the area

Main advantage is that it is the most common material for mass market candles simply for its cheaper price. It’s also the wax that gives off the strongest scent throw, If your goal is simply to make the best smelling candles, then paraffin wax is the right choice for you. Disadvantage is that when its melted it can stain black soot on ceilings, walls, drapery, and furniture. Moreover, Paraffin candles are known to contain seven documented toxins, two of which are tagged as carcinogenic

Soy Wax

Soy wax is the best affordable wax that’s eco-friendly with a long burn. While soy is definitely a better option than paraffin it still has a lot of downsides. Even the soybean industry is linked to some deforestation

Soy wax candles come from hydrogenated soybean oil, the same source as tofu which, in theory, makes it a more sustainable resource great for those wanting to live the vegan/vegetarian lifestyle. Soy wax candles tend to produce a white flame, which is similar to fluorescent light.

Most soy candles still contain paraffin, even candles tagged as 100% soy wax still need to be treated with a small amount of paraffin. This is because soy wax doesn’t stand on its own

Another issue is that at present, 90% of soy is genetically modified, and even 100% soybean oil blends are mixed with vegetable oils like coconut or other waxes

Soy is a vegetable product, meaning it’s vegan and fine to use.

Soy Wax for candle making is a great option as its greener and more environmentally friendly option than paraffin wax. It’s also a more affordable option for those looking to use a cleaner wax as well.

Bees Wax

Beeswax is the clean, eco-friendly, all-around winner, but is more expensive.

Comes from the bees byproduct resulting from honeycombs that are used to store honey. When harvesting honey, the collection of wax poses no threat to bees during its harvesting

Beeswax also has the lowest toxicity for candle materials, releasing no toxic byproducts or heavy soot into the air. Instead of adding pollutants, beeswax candles neutralize them. Beeswax candles release negative ions when burned, eliminating dust, mold, and unpleasant odors. This is particularly helpful for those with allergies, asthma, and hay fever. The naturally sweet fragrance from beeswax works well with sweet scents like vanilla, baked goods, and even coffee.

It’s a dripless material by nature. The light it produces is also the closest to natural sunlight for a candle, making it a great warm light source for minimal eye strain.

Beeswax is denser than soy wax, beeswax candles tend to burn for a longer time.

If choosing the healthiest candle possible is your number one concern, beeswax may be a better choice for you.

Bees wax is a limited resource meaning that beekeepers have to monitor how much wax (as well as honey) they harvest so as not to stress the bees resulting in hive absconding. This being said, not many beekeepers in Kenya keep their wax as an alternative source of income. They usually throw it away primarily focusing on honey. So if you have a local beekeeper in your county, do them a favor and let them know what they have

Link to our bees wax shop is HERE

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May 2022