With the global wax industry proving to be as unpredictable and malleable as wax itself, it’s interesting to keep an eye on what it is that’s driving these changes. Supply is becoming increasingly limited in Europe and North America, in large part due to the closure of some Group I plants as well as the economic recession having caused lower demand in turn leading to lower operating rates in those that remain open. Rushing to fill the void are synthetic and vegetable waxes, which are the fastest-growing performers in the sector.

Among these, of course, is soy wax, which is fast becoming the wax of choice for candle-makers for a variety of reasons. Soy wax gives a cleaner burn than paraffin wax, which is ideal for candles as it means it releases no toxins or carcinogens, nor does it ruin your wallpaper with smoke stains. Likewise it is far less likely to trigger allergies. Soy wax also has a lower melting point, meaning that candles made from soy will burn for longer than petroleum-based wax candles. The lower melting point also makes them a safer alternative, as spillages are less likely to be harmful to children or pets.

It is derived, as the name would suggest, from the soybean, which serves a variety of functions and is grown all over the world, chiefly in the Americas. So much so, in fact, that there are genuine concerns over deforestation as a result of so much land being given over to grow the crop. Although the trade-off for those concerned about environmental issues is that, grown sensibly, it is completely renewable, sustainable and carbon neutral. While petroleum supplies are slowly dwindling, putting pressure on cost and supply, soy is a constant, meaning it is not quite so subject to the vagaries of the market.

The last decade or so has seen a drastic rise in the popularity of soy wax, partly through consumer choice and partly because of the rise of synthetic and vegetable waxes as a percentage of the overall wax market as petroleum supply drops. And all the signs seem to show that soy wax is here to stay.