What is wax, and what is the difference between a wax and an oil?
As noted in our previous article on waxes, a wax has a fairly broad definition: it’s a flammable, carbon-containing solid that becomes liquid when heated above room temperatures. So the difference between a wax and oil is that a wax remains solid at room temperatures while an oil liquefies.
What is coconut wax?
Anyone who has used coconut oil at home knows that on a hot day it liquefies, and likely, have also noticed its faint ‘coconut’ odor. This leads to two common questions about coconut wax “What’s different between coconut oil and wax?” and “Doesn’t coconut wax smell of coconut”?.
Given its tendency to melt at room temperatures, coconut oil is not a wax. Our coconut wax uses use a hydrogenated and refined coconut oil. The refining process removes the coconut scent, while hydrogenation increases the melt point substantially from ~75 ºF to ~100 ºF. So with our ‘high-melt’ coconut oil, we’re a step closer to a wax, but still not quite there. The coconut oil is then blended with other natural vegetable waxes to bring up the melt point further to avoid any 'liquefying' issues. In summary, coconut wax is a high melt-point coconut oil and other natural waxes blended to achieve a wax that’s solid at room temperature. The inclusion of the coconut oil leads to a wax that burns very evenly compared to others, and from our own tests, more slowly too.
What are the other waxes in the blend?
There is an impressively low number of wax blenders selling coconut wax in the United States currently. We only found one that made a blend that was high quality and could truly be called a coconut wax—others we found sell a product called coconut wax that is mostly soy wax, with a small amount of added coconut oil. We know from our supplier that the coconut wax is all-natural (i.e. 100% no paraffin) and made from a majority high melt-point coconut oil (i.e. > 50% coconut-based). Unfortunately our supplier won't give us specific details or breakdown of what the vegetable waxes are in our blend, as it's a trade secret proprietary to them, since their lab created the wax. The reason they do this is to avoid other wax blenders copying their formula.
Since we wanted to know, we recently ran a chemical analysis on the wax. It identified that the majority ingredient was coconut oil, and that the ‘other vegetable waxes’ include some amount of soy. The analysis indicated that it was highly unlikely that the blend contained palm wax, but couldn’t rule it out completely.
So what next?
While we are using the best wax blend available, we’re not happy not knowing exactly what's in our wax, and not being able to completely eliminate soy from our wax blend. As a result, we are working on a custom wax formulation where we know exactly how it’s made and able to guarantee that all the raw materials are fair trade and sustainably sourced. Once we have this formulation we will publish it here on our blog, to be fully transparent, and share the ‘recipe’ with other candlemakers, so that we can help the industry move to more responsible production methods.
Questions, ideas, candles? TheLab@KeapBK.com