What Are Candles Made Of?

Description: Candles are one of the earliest forms of household lighting used throughout centuries to this day. Over the years, candles have been made from a few different forms of wax that range in burning points, longevity, and eco-friendliness.

Before there were LEDs, electric lights, and oil lamps, there were candles. Candles have been used to illuminate dark spaces for centuries, and are associated with many poignant images, from the Elizabethan playwright toiling feverishly on Twelfth Night by candlelight to the Dickensian caricatures of working-class families gathered in a parlor after dusk.



These days, candles aren’t such an abundant presence, having made way for the revolution of electricity and all its means of lighting up a dark space: incandescent lights, LEDs, filaments, flashlights, and even smartphones. But candles still have an irreplaceable charm to them, and are one of the few ways of harnessing truly organic, natural light.


Because candles have endured for so long and in so many places, the material used to compose a candle has differed depending on availability and cost. So, for a brief 101 on what candles are made of, read on.


The Most Common Materials for Candle Making


Paraffin Wax: One of the more common waxes used for making candles, paraffin boasts many handy features. It is highly versatile in many ways. For instance, paraffin comes in a wide range of melt points, from 110 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it the ideal material for many commonly available votives, pillars, tapers, and tealights, and is by far the most commonly used material for making candles.


Paraffin’s popularity may be thrown into question in the coming years, however. Paraffin is a by-product of crude oil manufacturing, and a shift toward more environment-focused ways may mean that conscious consumers opt for more natural candles. 


Soy Wax: One such natural alternative to paraffin is soy wax. Discovered as recently as the early to mid-nineties, soy wax is made from hydrogenated soybean oil, and is relatively inexpensive and doesn’t shrink much. Some of soy wax’s other commonly-sought benefits include mild fragrance and softer scents, a wide range of melting points, the ability to be easily blended with other waxes and materials, and a consideration for the environment.


Gel Wax: “Gel wax” is actually a contradiction in terms. Though “wax” is being used to refer to the material the candle is made out of, gel is not a wax at all. However, the gelatinated compound used to make gel wax is suited to burning and melting, unlike many other gel-based materials.


Typically, gel wax candles are made into contained candles since the gel’s flimsy and floppy constitution doesn’t make it easy for independently-standing candles like tapers or pillars (although there are some dense gel wax pillar candles out there). But gel is great for container candles (such as glass) or for floating candles. Melted gel isn’t as hard to clean, either.


Beeswax: When consumers started becoming more aware of the consequences of oil production in the early 90s, they started seeking alternatives to the more commonly-available paraffin. One such alternative is beeswax, which was not so much a “discovery” as much as a throwback to the early days of candle making in Egyptian times, when beeswax was a common ingredient.


Beeswax is a natural by-product of the honey-making process. The wax can be harvested from cells inside the comb used to house larvae. It is then melted and filtered several times over. Beeswax is sold in pastilles or in slabs for candlemakers, and it does not have to be melted before being rolled into a candle.


Authentic Bees Wax Candles by Hyoola

The use of beeswax throughout millennia is a testament to its quality and endurance. Natural, eco-friendly beeswax candles have been the source of soft light for many candles, and since the second world war, Hyoola Candles have been keeping this tradition alive, manufacturing quality beeswax candles for long and smokeless burning. Click here to learn more.

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