Of course, the difference between beeswax and soy wax may already be pretty obvious. Beeswax is naturally made by bees, where we get honey, while soy wax is made from soy.
However, in terms of how they operate within the chandlery business - the business and art of making candles - is a completely different and more complex question.
Keep reading to understand the material differences between beeswax and soy wax, how the materials are made, and how they operate as candles.
What Is Beeswax?
Beeswax is not honey as you may think, but beeswax is the material bees use to create the internal structure of honeycomb and their hives more generally, considering it a building material for the bees themselves.
Historically, beeswax was quite common in candles, but these days paraffin is actually the most common wax. Yet, the latter material has been scolded in recent years for not being environmentally friendly while beeswax is natural and can be harvested easily.
Beeswax naturally has a scent to it that is pleasant, is easy to make into candles, has a low melting point, and is considered much more environmentally friendly than the aforementioned paraffin wax.
However, many of those who chose not to use any animal products at all can consider beeswax to be a non-vegan material, and would rather leave it for bees rather than destroying their hives to get it - it is considered to be vegetarian material.
What Is Soy Wax?
Soy wax is made from soy, which doesn’t necessarily clear things up for everyone. Soy wax is a hydrogenated oil made from soybeans.
One reason why this particular material is good for candle wax is that hydrogenated soybean oil is already a solid at room temperature.
This property also allows soy wax to have a lower melting point than other waxes. It is also naturally white in color as well as being pretty much unscented in its raw form.
These latter properties are ideal for candle makers who want to add fragrance and color themselves.
In addition to these properties, soy wax is totally plant derived and vegan.
While there is some argument among environmentalists about how eco-friendly commercial soy farming has become, it is naturally vegan by nature of it being plant derived - no bees harmed here.
How Do They Compare?
There are a plethora of variables that may affect your choice of beeswax and soy wax and other other waxes as well as each other.
Price is of course a factor in any commercial industry, as it is with candle making. On average, soy wax ends up being cheaper than beeswax for a rather unique reason.
Many joke that beeswax is more expensive due to the wage the bees demand, but this is true in some ways.
In order to create the wax itself, we as humans merely harvest it rather than manufacture it, the bees have to eat 6-8 pounds of honey to do this. As a result, the amount of money lost selling honey is then added to the cost of the beeswax.
Put simply, beeswax is expensive, soy wax is only as expensive as your tofu is.
How a wax burns is undoubtedly important in the candle making process, not only how well it burns, and at what temperature, but also the various factors that affect the burn.
For example, paraffin, a really common wax material, has been rumored to be bad to breath in due to the soot it creates, it is a byproduct of crude oil at the end of the day.
Beeswax on the other hand is actually more natural than soy wax in some ways. Many suggest beeswax is the best choice if you want absolutely no potential effects on your breathing.
As soy wax is somewhat processed to become a wax it can have a potentially more harmful effect than beeswax, albeit basically negligible in comparison to something like paraffin wax.
That is to say, beeswax burns slower and better than soy wax, although the latter still has a pretty good burn time.
Even on a hot day, beeswax can burn better than any wax. Beeswax is basically straight from the bees, who know a thing or two about wax, so it's arguably the best in terms of a true wax material.
As we mentioned, people became very turned off by the idea of paraffin wax.
While a good candle wax material, it's literally a by-product of crude oil refinement, a process that is not green by any means, and in the same way soy wax is made from the same thing as your tofu, paraffin is made from the same thing as the gas your fill your car up with - just look at the black soot it creates.
When it comes to being plant based, a separate issue entirely, people prefer to use soy based wax as it is vegan.
Many of those concerned about our effect on bees and the environment at large suggest that we should leave the wax for the bees, suggesting soy is plant derived and thus more green.
As a caveat, many argue that soy is not so green these days as the commercial overfarming of soybeans is as bad for the environment as anything else.
There is a point to be made about how each material can function a little differently in the wax making process. Beeswax is pre-scented, of honey, while soy wax is not.
Equally, beeswax is often a bro or yellow color while soy wax is white. Arguably, soy wax is more versatile when functioning as a candle wax.
What should be clear is that both these materials are great to make candles with, both burn well, smell good, and are way better for the air and environment than paraffin.
As a point of difference, beeswax is definitely the most expensive but also the best for air purity. Soy wax is a good in between for something green and eco-friendly but pretty versatile for making candles.