September 01, 2004

Cranking the Heat on the Melters!

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?
Your 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 melter (direct 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, a 300-lb, a 500-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.

Direct Heat
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".

Water Jacket
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.

Power Supply
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!

Shipping
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.

CHANDLERS CORNER

Hi! I'm Chandler!
I can help you
learn how to make candles.

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 alike.

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 our value scents, our standard scents, and our ultimate scents. You can read more about each by clicking here.

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.


September 2004

PROJECT:
Making
Dipped Tapers

Ingredients

Coat hanger
Beeswax (or Taper wax)
2/0 wick
Concentrated Color Squares (of your choice)
Large metal pot

Instructions

Step 1
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.

Step 2
Tie 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.

Step 3
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.

Step 4
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.

Step 5
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.

Step 6
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 remelt.

Step 7
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.

Step 8
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

 
Quick Facts:
Scented
Jack-o-lantern Candles and “No-Melt” Techniques

Fall 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 cider, sweet 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 assemblies.

 
 
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The Trend Continues!

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