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Is Coconut Wax Sustainable? [Vs Soy Wax & Beeswax]

is coconut wax sustainable

The humble coconut is one of the most versatile and valuable fruits on the planet.

But how sustainable is coconut production and that of coconut products?

Aside from using the coconut meat for a variety of food and skincare products, the coconut husk, also known as coir, can be used to produce items. Things such as durable fabric, furniture and even chemical-free fertilisers like coir compost.

The wide variety of uses we have found for coconuts makes them an almost zero-waste ingredient. It’s for this reason why so many people think of the fruit as being eco-friendly.

In recent years, another coconut by-product has started to take on the sustainable market – coconut wax. It’s presented as a more eco-conscious alternative to paraffin candles and even pure soy wax.

But is this type of wax really a better alternative to traditional candles and waxes?

Let’s take a brief look at how this product is made, its benefits and disadvantages. We’ll then wrap up whether coconut wax is sustainable or not!

How is coconut wax made?

Coconut wax is made by cold-pressing the meat of the coconut or hydrogenated coconut oil. A small amount of soy wax is also often used to improve consistency and firmness.

The cold-pressing process involves sourcing the coconut meat, grinding it into fine flakes and extracting the flesh using a press at temperatures below 50C (usually between 20C and 40C).

The addition of soy wax or other vegetable waxes, like rapeseed wax, is necessary to obtain a solid and heat-resistant product. This is because coconut oil will melt at above room temperatures.

The wax is naturally odourless and colourless, making it quite easy to dye and turn into simple scentless candles. 

Uses for coconut wax

  • Skincare products like moisturisers and makeup removers 
  • Reusable food wraps (though they’re definitely not as easy to find as beeswax food wraps!)
  • Candles

The benefits of using coconut wax candles

When it comes to candle making, coconut wax offers a lot of unique benefits. So much so that even though coconut candles are the newest type of candle to hit the market, they are quickly becoming more popular than other natural candles!

So, how do coconut wax candles compare to the rest?

And is coconut wax sustainable or a relatively more sustainable alternative to mainstream wax candles?

We’ve already written all about sustainable and natural candles, but if you’re after a more in-depth look at the environmental benefits of using coconut candles, here’s a handy breakdown.

Coconut wax candles vs paraffin wax candles

Paraffin wax is the most affordable and most common type of wax on the market. The material is used for polishes, wax paper, cosmetics, and of course candles.

As paraffin wax is a petroleum product. It’s well-known for having a negative effect on the environment when it comes to both its sourcing (which relies on fossil fuels) and in the burning of candles which pollutes the atmosphere. 

In comparison, coconut wax is made from an all-natural and renewable resource. Furthermore, the burning of coconut candles doesn’t release any carbon dioxide.

Coconut wax candles vs soy wax candles

natural eco friendly candles

Soy wax candles are the second most popular type of candle. They are made from a renewable and natural resource: soybeans.

Soy candles don’t emit carbon dioxide or produce any considerable amount of soot. They burn for longer than paraffin wax candles and are naturally odourless.

However, soybean production is far from sustainable.

Non-organic soybean cultivation is associated with high rates of soil erosion, water pollution, deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.

While the vast majority of soybeans are designed for cattle feeding, there is often little to no information on how the soybean crops for soy wax and soy candles are grown.

Coconut wax candles, on the other hand, rely on coconut cultivation, which is in many ways more sustainable.

Growing coconuts requires very little water and no pesticides or herbicides, making for one of the least polluting crops. It’s for this reason why many coconut products, including coconut oil for cooking, can be labelled as organic

Coconut wax candles vs beeswax candles

beeswax natural candles

Beeswax is known for being an eco-friendly product as the material is simply a by-product of the beekeeping industry. This is all-natural and renewable.

Beeswax candles burn longer than both paraffin and soy wax candles. They also produce very minimal soot and no harmful emissions.

But many conscious consumers don’t believe that beekeeping is an ethical practice, as making honey and beeswax requires keeping bees in lifelong captivity.

Coconut wax candles, on the other hand, are a vegan-friendly alternative that boasts all the benefits of beeswax candles without the use of animals. They burn just as long and leave little to no soot behind!

The environmental cons of coconut wax

But while there are certainly many environmental benefits to using coconut wax candles in place of paraffin or even soy wax candles, that doesn’t mean that this option is a 100% sustainable alternative.

Coconut cultivation doesn’t require pesticides or a lot of water, but it does need plenty of viable soil.

According to a controversial study, coconut oil production is responsible for more biodiversity loss and deforestation than palm oil.

While these claims have largely been debunked, and there is currently no in-depth study focusing on coconut wax production as opposed to only coconut oil production, the crop’s impact on local habitats is undeniable.

On top of that, coconut wax requires the addition of vegetable waxes, and much more commonly soy wax, to prevent the oils from melting.

This means that even if you want to avoid supporting non-organic soybean cultivation, choosing coconut wax instead will still increase soy wax demand, albeit indirectly.

So, is coconut wax sustainable?

So, what’s the conclusion on coconut wax sustainability?

Compared to paraffin wax and soybean wax, coconut wax is a lot kinder on the planet, as it burns cleanly and is not associated with record levels of soil degradation.

However, if you’re looking for the most versatile and eco-friendly type of wax for candles, wraps, and everything else in between, beeswax is still the most sustainable wax on the market.

Both beeswax and coconut wax candles come with a hefty price tag, and they’re both designed to burn for much longer than other types of candles. Both are good eco options.

But if you still want to skip the beeswax for ethical reasons, just look for a Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance logo on your favourite coconut candle — it’s the only way to ensure its ethical credentials!

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Ben & Murphy Peaks Mam Tor

Ben is the Creator and Editor of Tiny Eco Home Life. I write and publish information about more sustainable, environmentally friendly living in and around the home.

Alongside this website, I love spending time in the natural world, living a simple life and spending time with my young family (Murphy the dog!) I round up my thoughts and recent blogs on the Eco Life Newsletter.