There are several natural waxes to choose from for your homemade candle.
While paraffin may be natural in that it's a petroleum-based wax it has been shown to be not so healthy & doesn't burn clean so I think we can eliminate this wax.
Healthier natural candle waxes are Palm, Beeswax, and Soy & Ghee.
Let's check out some pros & cons of each of these waxes.
Palm in made from the wax of the berry of the Palm tree. It's white, all natural, renewable & clean burning.
Palm wax has a unique crystalline structure that is very attractive.
It can hold a very high scent load. Some palm waxes can hold up to twice as much scent as paraffin or soy wax.
Palm wax comes in granular form, is very easy to work with & it pools evenly when lit. It doesn't need any additives & it cleans up easily with soap & warm water.
Cons of palm wax; the cost of palm wax is a slightly more than Soy wax.
Turning to Soy candle making, this wax has lots of Pros too. It burns long, cool & clean.
Here is a list of advantages a manufacturer gives about their soy wax:
o Made with pure, 100% natural soybeans
o Longer, cooler and cleaner burning without soot buildup
o Made in the USA with domestically grown crops
o Produced containing NO Genetically Modified Material
o Manufactured meeting FDA and Kosher standards
o Easy to clean up with soap and hot water eliminating solvents
o Renewable sustainable resources requiring plant growth
o Biodegradable and free from pesticides and herbicides
o Very stable allowing for long shelf life
o Not subject to animal testing
Cons of soy candles:
It's stated by some manufactures that soy candles are produced containing no Genetically Modified Material. For most soy waxes this is only true because after processing there is no DNA in the wax left to assess whether the soy beans used were GMO or not. In the United States in 2002, 98% of the soybean harvest was either genetically modified (GMO) or non-GMO mixed in with GMO soybeans. The only reliable source of non-GMO soybeans are Identity Preserved or Certified Organic, these are very few. This means buying soy wax that is not Identity Preserved or certified organic is supporting the biotech industry. This is a disadvantage of soy wax in my opinion. Also I feel soy candles made from GMO soybeans can't really be called "natural" as their DNA was humanly modified, the fact that the DNA was later removed doesn't negate that.
Now lets look at Beeswax which has been used for candles since ancient times.
It burns slow & clean & has its own sweet fragrance.
It gives of more light & heat than other waxes & is virtually drip less.
Beeswax is the only fuel to emit negative ions when burning & this process cleans the air of positive ions such as dust, odors, toxins, pollen, mold, dust mites feces, and viruses.
Lighting a beeswax candle inspires a spiritual feeling; they have traditionally been the candles of choice in many churches.
Using a sheet of beeswax & rolling it up with a wick inside is such a simple way to start making candles, a pair of scissors are the only equipment needed. Beeswax candle making with sheets is child's play.
Poured beeswax candles are just as easy to make as candles make with other waxes.
One con for beeswax is that the price is significantly more than other waxes but this is balanced by the quality it has of burning slower & lasting longer than other waxes. Beeswax can be added to other waxes to increase their burn time. Beeswax candles have their own natural sweet fragrance with which only some aromas will nicely blend. Beeswax can be bought in either a yellow or white color. Some white beeswax may have been bleached & have chemicals added, best check with the supplier.
Bayberry wax is an aromatic greenish vegetable wax that is removed from the surface of the Bayberry by boiling the berries in water and skimming the wax from the surface. Burning a Bayberry candle to the nub during the holidays is a 300-year tradition supposed to bring good luck in the coming year. Bayberry wax is recommended for making dipped tapers only & may not burn well as votive, tea-light or pillar candles.
Bayberry wax costs about 4 times that of Beeswax. It takes 15 pounds of Bayberries to make one pound of wax. It has a warm, earthy fragrance reminiscent of newly mown hay, and dries to a lovely olive green color. A small amount can be added to other waxes to make them harder & impart its green color. This is a pro as there are no other natural colorants for candles apart from the yellow of the beeswax. All natural candles, that is totally natural candles, are white unless they have beeswax or bayberry wax added.
Ghee lamps have traditionally been used by Sikhs & Hindus for thousands of years as a spiritual practice. Lighting the light dispels darkness & brings comfort, hope & peace. Lighting a light with cow ghee specifically is said to ensure radiance & heavenly bliss, prosperity, health & happiness.
Ghee is made from unsalted clarified butter. It is easy to make for one's self at home or one can buy it from the grocery store. Organic ghee is available. Once one learns to make a container candle one can make a ghee candle. Securing the wick in the middle of the container without glue is the trick. Traditionally the receptacle of the ghee is earthen mud, silver, gold or brass, never stainless steel. The wick traditionally is laid on the bottom of the container & is propped up on the side of the lamp rather than standing up straight in the middle. I have bought a ghee candle made in a small glass jar with a lid that has a central wick & it works fine. I would be very careful about propping the wick on the side of a glass container. Ghee is very soft at room temperature & a liquid when heated so it needs a container. My ghee candle burns without a ghee smell & gives a very sweet feeling. Now I know how to wick the jar I can keep renewing the candle by adding ghee & wicks or I can make a much bigger one that burns longer for the same price as my little store bought candle.
Whichever material you use for your candle, don't let having to decide which wax delay you making one! Choose a wax & make a candle, its fun, can save you money & using the candles brings bliss.