Skip to main content

Combustion characteristics of candles made from hydrogenated soybean oil


Hydrogenated soybean oil, referred to as soywax by candle makers, is a renewable and biodegradable alternative to paraffin wax in candle manufacturing. Soywax was investigated for its tendency to produce soot as well as potentially harmful organic volatiles (acrolein, formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde) during combustion. Beeswax and paraffin candles were used as references. A considerable amount of soot was produced from the combustion of paraffin candles, but little or none was observed from soywax candles. Compared to paraffin candles, soywax candles burned at a significantly slower rate and required less air. Small amounts of formaldehyde were detected and quantified in the fumes of burning paraffin candles. However, formaldehyde, peaks found in the chromatograms of soy- and beeswax candles were similar to or slightly higher than that of the blank. Since soywax candles exhibited burning properties similar to those of beeswax candles, soywax shows promise in candle applications.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    Lau, C., H. Fiedler, O. Hutzinger, K.H. Schwind, and J. Hosseinpour, Levels of Selected Organic Compounds in Materials for Candle Production and Human Exposure to Candle Emissions, Chemosphere 34:1623–1630 (1997).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Fine, P.M., G.R. Cass, and B.R.T. Simoneit, Characterization of Fine Particle Emissions from Burning Church Candles, Environ. Sci. Technol. 33:2352–2362 (1999).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Vermeire, T., Acrolein, in Environmental Health Criteria 127, World Health Organization, Geneva, 1992, pp. 11–14.

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Official Methods and Recommended Practices of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, 4th edn., AOCS Press, Champaign, 1996.

  5. 5.

    Johnson, D.C., and E.G. Hammond, A Sensitive Method for the Determination of Carbonyl Compounds, J. Am. Oil Chem. Soc. 48:653–656 (1971).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Smith, R.A., and I. Drummond, Trace Determination of Carbonyl Compounds in Air by Gas Chromatography of Their 2,4-Dinitrophenylhydrazones, Analyst 104:875–877 (1979).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Krause, J.D., Characterization of Scented Candle Emissions and Associated Public Health Risks, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of South Florida, 1999.

  8. 8.

    Spaeth, K.R., Don’t Hold Your Breath: Personal Exposures to Volatile Organic Compounds and Other Toxins in Indoor Air and What’s (not) Being Done About It, Prev. Med. 31:631–637 (2000).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tong Wang.

About this article

Cite this article

Rezaei, K., Wang, T. & Johnson, L.A. Combustion characteristics of candles made from hydrogenated soybean oil. J Amer Oil Chem Soc 79, 803–808 (2002).

Download citation

Key Words

  • Candle
  • combustion
  • hydrogenated oil
  • organic volatiles
  • soot
  • soybean oil
  • soywax