There are thousands of candles available on the market and hundreds of DIY tutorials on making your own. While many people think that candle waxes are equal, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Several different waxes are used to make candles, and this article will help explain the difference.

First, let’s discuss what wax is so that you have a better understanding. Wax is any substance that has the following characteristics:

  • Solid when at room temperature and liquid when heated.
  • Structured from hydrocarbons.
  • Insoluble in water and water repellent.
  • Smooth in texture but polishable/buffable with slight pressure.
  • Low reactivity and toxicity.
  • Near odorless.

Waxes aren’t just used in candles, either. They’re used in different items on the market, such as coatings, cosmetics, adhesives, foods, crayons, and many others.

Candle Wax

There are four main types of wax used in candle making, each with its own characteristics, such as longevity and ability to hold fragrance. These include paraffin wax, soy wax, beeswax, and coconut wax. You can also use or buy combinations.

Paraffin Wax

The least expensive of the bunch, paraffin wax, is perfect for scented and colored candles. Even better, the types of paraffin available come in various melt-points, allowing it to be used for many different kinds of candles, such as pillars and containers. However, if you’re looking for an eco-friendly choice, paraffin hits the bottom of the list, as it’s created using a byproduct from the oil industry. Still, if you’re a beginner, it’s easy to obtain and work with.

Soy Wax

As soy wax is made from soy, it’s generally considered more eco-friendly than paraffin. It’s perfect for candles that need to last longer once lit, as it has a slow burn. If you’re an experienced candle maker, this middle-of-the-line wax is a great choice. Just be careful to keep the temperatures correct when working with it, as it has a tendency to shrink and create white starbursts within your designs. It also doesn’t hold a scent for long, so if the scent is important, use these candles within three months.


Used for hundreds of years, beeswax is what many people automatically think of when it comes to candles. Since it’s derived from beehives, it’s eco-friendly and already has a lovely scent reminiscent of honey. It’s an excellent wax for combining with paraffin or soy because it’s much harder and can allow for shaped candles without deforming on a warm day. Keep in mind that it’s much pricier than the two previous options.

Coconut Wax

Relatively new to the market with a high price tag, coconut wax combines the best qualities of all the other waxes. It holds color and scent for a long time and has a very clean burn with little to no soot. The price can be a significant damper for a candle-making enthusiast, however. Still, it’s worth it in the long run if you’re eco-conscious!