Wax the big deal
It's 2021 and now more than ever people are becoming increasingly concious about their decisions and actions and how it can affect our planet. Including myself here at Leaf & Lake Co.
Over the last few months i have implemented changes which are more environmentally friendly. From dissolvable, recyclable and biodegradable packaging. Though i know i still have things that need looking at i had found that my attention was more packaging based. And so i decided to turn my focus to my products themselves and see if there are any changes that could be made to make them more planet kind.
Since Covid-19 and the number of lockdowns in the UK (and the world) the home fragrance industry (namely candles and wax melts) has became severley oversaturated with new vendors starting up businesses whilst their normal place of work has been closed temporarily or indefinitely, as a result of the pandemic in an attempt to reclaim some sort of income.
The influx of new businesses has seen wax supply depleat and sadly there are some cashing in on the fact wax is hard to get hold of by charging double the price previously charged for a less quanitity of wax.
As i type this i am severley low on wax myself and cannot get hold of any that i usually use. Which is what prompted me to do some research into other waxes to see if there was a wax which was in less demand than the one i usually use that i could switch to that would tick all the boxes i need it to (great scent throw, reasonable price, easy to work with, consistent results/performance, as environmentally friendly as possible etc)
And what i found on my research journey was quite insightful though has left me quite perplexed about what route i should go down.
I put up some polls on Instagram on 13th Feb 2021 asking about your thoughts on different wax types. As a general feedback from you all it seemed you all preferred soy wax and believed it to be clean, sustainable, environmentally friendly. There was consistent feedback on paraffin being toxic and bad for the environment. It was a close call on the polls as to if the type of wax used would sway your decision to purchase a product with it being just over half of you saying 'yes'.
Having done research a while ago when i started my business i developed my own belief on the different wax types and decided to go for soy for my products. Since then there have been an array of waxes introduced to the world. And so in the midst of a wax shortage and with no sign of that shortage ending soon i figured it may be wise to use this opporunity to do some research and comparisons about the different kinds of waxes now available aswell as any information about them directly (how they are made, if they are sustainable etc). A thorough research i guess you could say and not just taking a suppliers word for it that theirs is the best wax. Because, after all said and done they are only ever going to promote their wax in a good light in order to make a sale.
So, with that being said here are my findings (so far) which are subject to change as i continue on my research.
I am going to write about each wax type with the research i have found so far. I am not trying to put one wax over another. I am still in the decision making process myself as what i have learned has me feeling indecisive about which wax is best/managable for my business.
All natural, non toxic. When being used there are no nasty toxins released into the air. Infact beeswax helps neutralize pollutants by adding negative ions into the atmosphere. Thus reducing irritants like dust and mold. This wax is especially good for those who suffer asthma, hayfever or other allergies. It is however an expensive option on account of it takes roughly 33 million flower visits per lb of beeswax. However there is the fact to consider that beeswax is harvested straight from the bees honeycomb and bees are currently endangered.
Soy free, Paraffin free, Palm oil free and when used in candles it produces the least soot. It is slow burning meaning you get longer usage. It can hold a high amount of scent (more so than other waxes) even without an additive. It is an expensive option, especially when using coconut wax on it's own.
A by-product of petroleum. Considered to be the most toxic of waxes on the market in terms of irritants/polutants. Releasing toulene and benzene into the air which are known carceogens. Paraffin wax is non-renewable but biodegradable. Since paraffin is a by-product there is an ongoing debate as to it being somewhat environmentally friendly on account of it not being dumped into a landfill but instead being used and turned into wax for candles. Paraffin wax produces the most soot out of all the waxes but according to the National Candlemakers Association website all wax is equal in terms of being under the threshold for a 'clean burn' if made correctly. No wax is 100% clean. It is also argued that paraffin is extremely bad for your health. This is disputed by the UFDA on account of paraffin being approved for food use and suitable for wrapping food produce in (such as cheese). Paraffin wax is commended for it's scent throw performance but does require a higher burning temperature and in the event that it is spilled then it is more likely to do lasting damage than other waxes. It is one of the most popular choices of wax for chandlery and remains to be one of the more cost effective options.
Soy wax is relativley new, having only been around since 1996. Over the years it has continued to increase in popularity and was quickly marketed as the 'top choice' for those wanting to be more eco-friendly on account of it being produced from the soybean. Advertised as sustainable, clean and having an appealing price point it seemed to be a no brainer to choose soy wax. Over time there have been a number of points brought to the forefront and people are beginning to question just how Earthfriendly soy wax actually is. Soywax is made from the Soybean. It is important to note here that to get to Soywax from Soybean there is a process. And that process is where the doubt lies as to if Soywax is really a good option. Due to the increase in popularity of soy as a whole (bear in mind soy is often used in animal feed as well as many food products on the market) it has seen an increase in soy plantations and around 95% of soy is genetically modified with the use of chemicals and pestacides in order to keep up with the increasing growth of soy. Not to mention deforestation occurs.
Soy plant = Natural
Soy Wax = is not (as it has to go through a process to become soy wax. A process which isn't natural)
In order for the product (soy bean) to become the material (soy wax) it has to go through a mechanical and chemical process. This is of course not environmentally friendly. A machine is used to seperate the soy bean matter from the oil. At which point the oil needs to be refined and heated in a hydrogenating machine and then it is chemically distilled with hexane, chlorine and boric acid and then hydrogenated.
Additionally soy (infact alot of waxes) are processed with a small amount of paraffin also. There is nothing backing official scientific studies to prove that soy is cleaner than paraffin as both produce air pollutants under the recommended threshold. Soy is also not soot free as is commonly advertised. All candles produce soot residue. Some more than others.
As you can see i have spent a significant amount of time researching soy more than other waxes as that is the wax type that i currently use. I plan on continuing on with my research to determine which is going to be the best wax for my business as there are many things to consider along side which wax is best for you and the environment.
I would like to think that i have repeatedly shown great care and attention to this kind of thing and invested my time and effort into making sure you have information about my products in order to make an informed decision. Enough so that you will trust that whatever decision i make i will not have done so so flippanlty and without thorough investigation.
At this point i have no idea what to do for the best but i am still on my path of research.
I would love to hear your thoughts, feedback and opinions on this matter. Don't be afraid to speak up. If you have any helpful information that you know about wax then by all means help your girl out!! I feel like its a minefield.
With all that being said if you have reached the end of this blog post then thank you. I know it was lengthy and a whole lot of words and no imagery but i'm really not very good at composing blogs. So thank you for sticking with me until the end.
Be sure to follow my facebook and instagram for updates on this topic.
Have a lovely day
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