Soya V Rapeseed - Which One Is Best?

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Are you confused about which is the best natural wax to make candles with? Or are you blissfully unaware that there is an alternative to soya wax available? Soya wax has dominated the market since its launch back in the 1990's but there is an alternative that has been around almost as long. Like many products we buy we tend to stick with what we know and are reluctant to try an alternative but, sometimes, it is worth giving something a go, if only once.
Afan Valley Crafts stock NatureWaxC3, which contains only soya with no added paraffin wax, palm wax or botanical oils.
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Afan Valley Crafts stock NatureWaxC3, which contains only soya with no added paraffin wax, palm wax or botanical oils.

Soya Wax

Probably the best known of the so called 'natural waxes' the soya you are most likely to purchase in the UK will have been harvested and processed in the USA; so the concerns about deforestation will not factor in its production.
A soft, creamy white wax soya can turn brown during the melting process if high temperatures are sustained. Soya wax can hold high levels of fragrance oil, but it doesn't release this fragrance as readily; as a result candle makers usually like to add more fragrance oil to compensate for this.
For container candles there are a number of formulae to choose from, depending on whether you want improved performance when using fragrance oils or an improved appearance when using colour. For pillar candles you are limited to just one wax,
which has a matt finish.
Summary - Best for container candles - don't be bamboozled by the variety of container waxes available; they all do the job.
Afan Valley Crafts stock pure Rapeseed wax which contains no paraffin wax, palm wax or additional botanical oils.
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Afan Valley Crafts stock pure Rapeseed wax which contains no paraffin wax, palm wax or additional botanical oils.

Rapeseed Wax

Rapeseed wax is the European alternative to soya wax and oil seed rape is widely grown in the UK as well as Europe.
Cream in colour this wax is also susceptible to turning brown when over heated. With good fragrance retention and scent throw rapeseed is suitable for scented candles, but there are not multiple choices to contend with here, and successful results are easily achieved. Rapeseed is quite a hard wax and the pillar wax produces candles with a hard shell and a beautiful, porcelain like appearance, which is even glass like to the touch.
Summary - The natural cream colour and glossy finish on rapeseed wax makes elegant pillar candles.

Hints & Tips

Container Candles - As soya is the softer of the two waxes it develops larger wax pools more quickly while rapeseed is more prone to leaving gaps between the wax and the container. Other than these two points they perform in much the same way. To get the best results pouring temperatures must be adjusted to suit the container size and the ambient room temperature. Cooling too quickly/slowly results in patchy adhesion to the container sides and sinking. On the plus side these are easily rectified by choosing opaque glass, china or tins to hide any adhesion problems, and an uneven surface can be disguised with a thin layer of new wax, and no one will ever know!

Pillar Candles - Soya pillar wax is quite soft and easily damaged, while rapeseed wax is more robust. Both waxes need careful wicking to prevent wax break-out and regular shape candle moulds, like cylinders and squares, will be the most successful - I have had great results with EM3P2 Eco Wicks. Avoid irregular shapes, extreme tapers and very slim candles.

Environmental Comparison

The beauty of both soya wax and rapeseed wax is the ability to grow more when it is needed. A never ending supply can be made to satisfy the demand, but is one more environmentally friendly than the other.
The answer will always be relevant to where you live on the planet and, as Afan Valley Crafts is based in the UK, this comparison will be biased to this location.
Either crop takes up valuable farm land that is not then used for food production, but both crops benefit the land by improving the soil, supporting insect life and the waste material can be made into animal feeds. Rapeseed has a higher oil yield per acre, so less resources are needed to harvest a comparable amount of oil, and it is grown on our own doorstep. Oil seed rape is easily identified by its bright yellow flowers which fill the fields around the UK in Spring and early Summer. It is the oil from these crops, along with the oil of crops grown in other EU countries which is turned into rapeseed wax. With a higher oil yield and reduced miles rapeseed wax probably comes out on top in the carbon footprint stakes.  

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