What's the Difference Between Sand Candles and Foton Pearled Candles?

We get this question a lot! Sand candles, candle sand, sand wax…are those the same as pearled candles? The short answer is that sand candles is a generic term for granulated candle wax and was our inspiration for creating our patent-pending Pearled Candles (yep, we coined the term!). Sand candles have existed for decades and were popular back in the 90s as a DIY candle experience for kids. You could buy candle sand aka sand wax in various colors and layer them together to make sand art.

Foton Pearled Candle layered sand candle art

When we first discovered sand candles, we immediately thought this candle concept could be a lot bigger than just a creative candle kit for kids. We saw the potential it had for solving a sustainability problem with traditional jar candles – what do you do with the candle jar once your candle runs out? There are only so many small storage containers that you need for your cotton balls, cue tips etc.

We immediately thought this type of candle powder could be a good way to refill these jars and get many uses out of them. We’ve switched from disposable plastic bottles to refilling our reusable water bottles – why should candle jars be any different? In this candle sand form, this should be possible!

When starting to investigate the chemistry of sand candles, we quickly realized these candle wax beads have a major problem – candle sand is made out of petroleum-based paraffin wax. We did not want to trade one environmental problem for another and were determined to figure out a clean-burning and sustainable candle wax alternative.

After months of research and product development, we created plant-based candle beads that burned cleanly with minimal smoke or soot. We designed and tested dozens of wicks, designed our plastic-free packaging, filed for a patent, and called our invention Pearled Candles.   

The primary differences between traditional sand candle wax and our candle pearls are summarized in the table below: 


Traditional Candle Sand aka Sand Wax aka Sand Candles

Pearled Candles by Foton (sometimes referred to as candle pearls or pearl candles)


Varies, most often paraffin wax

Proprietary formula of highly purified plant-based wax

Burn Properties

Can burn with black smoke and create soot.

Clean-burning, minimal smoke or soot.

Where does it come from?

Petroleum byproduct created when crude oil is refined

Certified sustainably sourced plants

Burn Time

Burns faster than most candle waxes

Burns slower compared to traditional candle waxes

Colored Product Quality

Often leave color residue on your hands and everything that it touches.

Flame size often gets very small over time.

Leaves your hands and surfaces clean.

Flame size stays consistent over hours of burning.

PS: Beware of other companies claiming to also offer pearled candles, pearl candles, pearlized wax, or another term they’ve made up to describe their product. True pearled candles are only offered by Foton and we stand by the high quality of our products. If someone other than Foton is claiming to sell pearled candles, those are very likely just sand candles and they don’t understand the difference. :) 

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