Soy candles

A researcher from Iowa State University has developed a method to produce candle wax from soybeans.

The new soy wax burns without producing black smoke or soot, making it cleaner than traditional waxes made from petroleum paraffin and beeswax.

Soy-based candles have been manufactured for a long time, but until now the wax in those candles had problems.

‘Candle wax made from soy was either too soft and greasy, like cooking shortening, or it was brittle and crumbly,’ said Tong Wang, an associate professor in food science and human nutrition at IowaStateUniversity.

Because of the consistency of the wax, there were limitations on the types of candles that could be made with it.

‘You could only make soy candles in a jar,’ Wang said.

‘You couldn’t make a pillar candle or a long stick candle because the wax was either too soft or too brittle.

‘I thought I could make a better candle by changing the internal structure of the soy material.’

After working for several years, Wang was able to produce the wax in the right consistency so that candle sticks and pillar candles could be made from the material.

Wang has been examining the possibility of developing soy wax as an alternative to oil-based wax since 1998.

During that time she was funded by IowaStateUniversity‘s Institute for Physical Research and Technology (IPRT) and Soyawax International, a private company based in Cedar Rapids, which is now building a pilot plant to manufacture the new candle wax.

Michael Richards, the president of Soyawax International, believes that in a few years his company will be producing several million pounds of the product.