Cranking the Heat on the Melters!
September is here, and things are starting to buzz
within the industry. As the busy holidays start to consume
every waking minute of our candle making time, it is important
to think about how we are going to get all that wax, gel,
and soap melted
for the approaching season. The answer is to purchase the
correct melter that fits your needs. The following article
shows you the basics on melters and
attempts to explain every possible piece of information you
need to know when purchasing a melter.
Where to Start?
first choice is to determine how large of a melter you
need for the task. Think about things like optimal batch
sizes, types of wax/soap/gel, last year's needs, or that
large account you may have given a bid to. If you are just
starting out, and just making a few candles of each scent,
you can melt a large batch in the melter and simply stir
your recipe into a pour pot individually until you grow
your business large enough to fill the entire melter with
just one flavor per batch. We found that an enthusiast
or hobbyist gets the best results with a 35-lb or
even a 50-lb melter. If
you are in a business or want to start a business, a 100-lb
heat or water
jacket) is a great starting point. If you already have
a melter, you can purchase a larger melter to feed into
your existing set up to increase melt times. For example,
if you have a 100-lb melter, you can purchase a 200-lb,
or a 1,000-lb melter
to feed into it. This way you pull 100 lbs off the large
vat and can put fresh wax into the already melted wax to
start melting while you pour the 100 lbs off.
Direct vs. Water Jacket
Another choice to be made is picking between a direct-heat or a water
jacket melter. These two styles are aptly named by the type of heating
process they use when heating your wax, gel, or soap. The main difference
between these 2 styles is the direct-heat melter uses wire elements
within the walls of the unit, and the water jacket simulates a double
boiler method by using an element to heat water in the walls of the
unit. Both units work very well, and boost candle making production
whether it be for a commercial business application (1,000 lb melter)
or a simply a busy candle enthusiast (35 lb melter). If you never ever
used a heater before, you will appreciate either style of unit.
The direct heat melter comes in two sizes, a fifty-pound size (WHC-50)
and a one hundred pound size (WHC-100).
These heaters tend to be a great bet for small to medium sized operations.
They are insulated fairly well with only the lid, top rim, and spout
getting really hot. The walls of the unit only warm a bit over extended
periods of heating. This helps reduce heat in tight work spaces. These
units have heated spouts. They are porcelain lined, so a little bit of
care should be taken when choosing a stir rod. Most people use wood or
a dull stirrer to help protect the inside. The WHC-50 has one temperature
knob/unit and the WHC-100 has an upper and a lower temperature knob/unit
(just use the bottom when making a small batch). These are the only units
suitable for gel wax. Please note these units require an outlet that matches
their style of plug. One prong is sideways like in the picture shown,
one slot on the wall outlet looks like a side ways "T".
The water jacket heat melter comes in many
sizes ranging from 35
pounds to as large as 1,000 pounds. These heaters tend to used by
operations of all sizes. They are made from 16-gauge stainless steel
and are not insulated, which means all parts of the unit get hot. This
is usually not a problem since the busy season is when the colder seasons
approach. They warm tight work spaces in facilities with no central heating
(such as a garage, barn, shed, or small warehouse). They are thick gauge
stainless steel inside, so they can take a beating. These are workhorses
suitable for an industrial environment. A clamp-on stirrer can be easily
attached to the sides. There is one temperature knob. These units require
no special outlet other than a standard 3-prong outlet. Many people insulate
them to help get more efficiency from the heater. These heaters use the
same technology used in home water heating for a long reliable life time.
The water level must be monitored weekly. The elements are
easily replaced. The 100-lb units and larger have a thermometer and a
water sight gauge. Not suitable for gel wax.
The water jacket heaters use a 1,500 watt element in the smaller models
and two elements in the larger models. They require a 30-amp outlet
and plug into a standard 3-prong outlet. A 220volt option is available
for all sizes of water jacket heaters at no additional charge, but
you will need an electrician to hard wire the unit for you.
The direct heat melters are both 120-volt. The WHC-50 is
1,125 watts, which draws 9.375 amps and requires a 15-amp
circuit. The WHC-100 is 2,150 watts, which draws 17.9 amps
and requires a 20 amp circuit.
Safety and Maintenance
There is little care and maintenance needed for many years of reliable
performance from your melter. After a batch is made, and a new batch
is ready to go, the heater can be easily wiped clean if the candle
maker thinks it is appropriate. The insides are extremely hot, so wear
a protective oven mitt with a long sleeve. If you plan your flavors
correctly, you can do your lighter scents first and move to darker
or heavier scents with out wiping. For instance, you can run a vanilla first,
followed by cinnamon,
and finish off with hot apple
pie without cleaning the melter. If you are using a water jacket
style and you have hard water, you can use distilled water for greater
life of the element. Dedicate an entire wall outlet to a single melter
for maximum efficiency/safety and do not plug other appliances into
a melter's outlet. Have an experienced electrician look at your facility
if you do not know your electrical capacity.
Points for all Melters
Be sure to place heater a comfortable height that helps reduce back fatigue.
A solid platform is important to increase safety. Due to changes in
the type and melt point of material you are melting, the ambient temperature,
and the amount of product being melted, the knob is merely for reference,
and may not always be exact. It only takes a batch or two and you'll
get to know exactly where the knob should be. The #1 complaint with
heaters is that the customer did not buy one large enough!
We can only ship the WHC-35 and WHC-70's or WHC-75 through
UPS. You will have to pay a little extra for insurance because there
is a slight possibility of getting a slight dent in the shipping process.
It's not common to get a dent and the heater is still fine, but nobody
likes the first dent. All other units go via common carrier truck (18-wheeler).
If you do not have a commercial residence, the trucking companies may
charge you an extra fee depending where you live (out of our control)
and if you require a phone call prior to delivery they might charge a
fee as well (once again, out of our control). When ordering a heater,
you might as well ship your wax order on the same pallet all at once.
Usually you can get up to 35 to 40 cases of wax on
a pallet with a heater. Call our customer service department for
a quote. If you work for or know somebody who's employer has a loading
dock, you can trade them candles in exchange for receiving a pallet for
you. Be sure to have a way to unload your order (whether it be by fork
lift or by hand unloading) because the driver is only responsible for
getting it to the back of the truck, and may or may not help (once again
in exchange for candles). One person can lift a 35 to 50 pound heater
and two people can lift up to a 200-lb melter.
Make Sense of Your Scents
Hi, folks! I get a lot of questions about scent load, especially
with terms like double or triple scented candles floating
around the industry. The whole scent philosophy is
sort of nebulous and vague for many reasons, making it hard
to figure out for everybody from beginners to seasoned pros
For one thing, there is no standard placed on the industry.
There are infinite amounts of flavors and strengths in the
marketplace. I use a gas station as a good analogy. Every
time you put gas in your car, you know exactly what strength
you are using and how much it costs. They all work for different
people regardless of which strength you purchase. We
try to help you sort which strength you need buy offering
scents, our standard
scents, and our ultimate scents.
You can read more about each by clicking
All of these scents work well, but you decide how much of
a premium you need for your purposes. Remember that too much
of a good thing is not always wise, and fragrance has a point
of diminishing returns. Your wax can only hold so much fragrance
(like a sponge). Additives can
be used to help hold more fragrance in, or you can purchase pre-blended
waxes with additives already inside. Once you start going
too heavy, you risk a poor burning or poor looking candle,
adding too much cost, require to use more additives, or even
making the candle smell too pungent and "off smelling". Your
customers do not always have the same tastes as you nor do
they have the same tolerance to the scent as you, so be careful
to not get too wrapped up in a tangle of woes.
Over the decades we have established many long term relationships
with quality vendors based on customer feedback. It would
be a little unrealistic to assume that any one manufacturer
can be an expert on all fragrances, so we use multiple vendors
who are particularly good at specific fragrances making our
selection pretty close to perfect. Send
us your comments and we use your feedback to influence
our purchasing patterns.
(or Taper wax)
Color Squares (of your choice)
Bend a metal coat hanger into a rectangle with hook centered at
top, making sure that the width and height will fit to dip entirely
into your large, metal pot.
lengths of wick vertically between the top and
bottom of the frame. Make sure to space the wicks
a few inches apart, so that your candles will not
touch as they are dipped.
Place wax in a deep pot, such as our melting pot. Place in a pan
of water and place on the stove top. Melt the wax in this double
boiler and keep the temperature of the wax a steady 160°F
(71°C). If the wax is too hot, it will not adhere to your
wicks. If the wax is too cool, the surface of your finished candle
will be lumpy.
If color is desired, add your color squares to the wax once it
is completely melted. Make sure the color squares have been dissolved
before starting to dip the candles.
The dipped tapers are made easily by repeatedly dipping the wick
in the wax. Start with dipping the frame all the way down into
wax in a slow smooth motion. Slowly pull frame straight up and
cool for 3 or 4 minutes. Continue to dip, holding candles in
the wax for about 3 seconds and cooling for 3 or 4 minutes between
each dip. It is important to move slowly, smoothly and to always
dip to the same level. After 6 or 7 dips, you will have a candle
about the size of a pencil.
As you dip, your frame will also fill up with wax. Periodically
push this build up down the sides of the frame into the pot to
Continue dipping until you have the candle diameter you desire.
Please note that the candle will automatically form into a rounded,
taper shape when the candle is dipped fully each time.
Using scissors, trim wick at the bottom of each candle. Suspend
your frame and let candles hang until completely cool. Then cut
wicks at the top of the frame and level the bottom of each candle
in a warmed tin pan.
For more great projects like this one, please check
out our Candle Basics Book (item BK-8) with over
50 great projects. You'll find it in the books
section of Candlewic.com
Jack-o-lantern Candles and “No-Melt” Techniques
will be upon us and a great way to start getting some early
candle sales is scented Jack-o-lantern candles. Most people
use candles in their carved pumpkins, so a unique idea is
to put a scented candle
in the good old Jack. You can use whipped
pumpkin pie, spiced
cinnamon pumpkin, or fall and winter
scents that give a sense of smell when the trick-or-treaters
come to the door. It is also a great way to use up some of
last year's left over scent to make room for this year's
offering. Candlewic offers ironware candle
holders as well as using a 20x6mm clip
helps extinguish the flame a bit earlier.
If you want to make the candles with the kids, or don't
have time to melt wax, you can use beeswax
sheets to hand roll a quick candle that fits the jack-o-lantern
perfectly or granulated
wax with wick