Choose a vegetable, animal or mineral wax ?
When we talk about wax, we immediately think of beeswax, a natural substance that these insects create to build the combs of their hive and deposit their honey. There are so many others, but all have similar properties: plasticity, melting point, viscosity and hydrophobicity. There are three types of wax, which are the most popular in candle making, including vegetable wax, animal wax and mineral wax. Each has its own benefits and advantages, but which one to choose? In the following we will discover their secret.
What is the purpose of wax ?
Wax is in fact a chemically very stable body, composed mainly of ethylene glycol and fatty acids. Its properties vary little over time. It is a translucent substance, traditionally used as a raw material for candles. But its role is not limited to this.
Wax is also used to coat grafted plants in horticulture and arboriculture, to prevent water loss from the graft before it attaches to the rootstock. Since the 17th century, craftsmen have been making santons with this product. In the Middle Ages, ex-voto, candles, statuettes in human or animal form and other objects made of wax were already found.
For several years now, this substance has been used in various cosmetic products, such as creams, pencils, lipsticks, etc. It softens, thickens and smoothes the skin by creating a protective film that slows down moisture loss. It is a component that adds shine to the hair. The wax strip is used for depilation.
Wax is also used in the food industry. It is used as a coating for certain cheeses or sweets, and as a meat preservative. Not to mention its actions to maintain wood, leather, snowboards, skis, rollerblades, skates, surfboards or bowstrings. To do all this, this substance comes in different varieties.
But what interests us is candle making. Wax is used as a fuel for this purpose. It can be of vegetable, animal or mineral origin. The quality of the weave, the wick and the overall appearance depends largely on the quality of the raw material and its fragrances.
What is vegetable wax ?
Vegetable wax is very popular in candle design. By the way, Daniel Andre scented candles are made from vegetable wax. Soya extract is a choice ingredient for making natural and scented candles. It is guaranteed free of GMOs, colouring agents and wax esters. It is a hydrogenated vegetable oil.
This variety of wax has the advantage of being completely ecological and biodegradable. It contains no pesticides or herbicides. In addition, its melting point is extremely low, which provides it with prolonged combustion. Emollient, vegetable soy wax is ideal for massage candles. Nevertheless, it is alive and therefore fattier than other types. It is possible that it may leave deposits or traces on the glass.
Soy vegetable wax is a milky white colour, which gives you a wide choice of candle colours. It is currently facing such a public craze to move away from petroleum-based products such as paraffin.
What is an animal wax ?
Animal wax is generally derived from bees. It is extracted from the hive after harvesting the honeys. To do this, it is necessary to open the cells covering the sweets with a specific knife. The layer, called the lid, is then placed in a centrifuge to separate the wax and the honey. A boiler is used to remove the impurities in order to extract the final product of high quality animal wax.
It was the first material to replace tallow in candle making. This old component is not very appreciated because it diffuses bad smells, thick black smoke and provides poor lighting.
At the time, beeswax was very expensive and this privilege was reserved only for nobles and clergy. It is also characterised by its pleasant smell and the absence of dirt. It also provides good light. Nowadays, this variety is widely used in the manufacture of moulded candles.
What is mineral wax ?
The mineral wax can be paraffin or microcrystalline. Discovered at the beginning of the 1800s, paraffin comes from the petrochemical industry. It is a petroleum derivative, which is colourless, odourless and inexpensive. Easy to use and widely available, this variety is widely used in the manufacture of candles sold throughout the world. It is also the most widespread in this field. Unfortunately, its non-renewable nature causes a real concern for the environment.
As for microcrystallines, they are mainly used as an additive or in specific situations. They are sometimes found in specialised formulations to achieve special effects. This is the case with the marbled, cracked or flaky look of some candles.
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