Soybean plants grow in 3 phases: germination, maturation and flowering. Germination begins within 48 hours if the conditions are right and continues for around 7-10 days before the next stage of maturation begins. Maturation takes around 8 weeks and results in a plant that varies in height from about 50cm to 125cm. The flowering phase begins when the days become shorter than about 13 hours although this varies depending on the variety of soybean. The resulting fruit is the soybean pod which contains 2-4 beans, between 5 and 10 mm in diameter.
The mature soybeans can be used for a variety of things, including making in to tofu and eating whole, although you can’t eat raw soybeans. As they contain about 20% oils, they can be used in soaps, inks, crayons and clothing. They can also of course be used for candle making.
So are Soybeans environmentally friendly?
This is a question which is not easy to answer. There have been news stories about horrific levels of deforestation to grow soybean plants, particularly in Brazil, and it seems that the global demand for meat may be the root cause of this issue – about 80% of the world’s soybean production is used to feed livestock. Also the vast majority of Soybeans are GM, although people do disagree if this is an environmentally damaging issue, or if it is a good technology to feed the growing global population. Like most oil seeds too, Hexane is used to extract the soybean oil, although the use is very well controlled and is regarded to be safe (https://labproinc.com/blog/chemicals-and-solvents-9/post/hexane-an-effective-oil-extracting-agent-33). On the other hand soybean production uses all of the crop so there is little waste, and it is widely used in biodiesel. It is a good substitute for meat (tofu and TVP) and its flour is higher in protein and other nutrients than wheat flour and is also gluten free. It is a dairy free and vegan infant feed and can also be made in to dairy free spread, ice cream, yoghurt and cheese substitutes. It is also reported to have a variety of health benefits although there is more research needed to clarify these.
At Lochrain Candles, we use soy wax for our candles, and we believe that this is one of the most environmentally responsible ways to produce candles. We do not use chemical or synthetic scents in our candles either – we use the maximum level of essential oils we can use in a candle (10%). Unfortunately some other candle manufacturers do use chemicals to make their candles smell stronger which has resulted in some people thinking our candles could have a stronger scent. This is not possible without using chemicals and synthetic scents, and we strongly believe that this is not the correct way to go. Lochrain candles are your luxury, and they don’t cost the earth.