The Role of
The other day I was paging through some of our files and
found copies of older editions of our catalog and could not
resist reviewing the content. It was interesting experience
because in some instances it looks like not much has changed
in the candle industry except for color photos, more fragrances
and, naturally, the prices.
However, one section that really caught my eye was the myriad
of additives that we used to carry. While additives are still
a big part of the candle industry, the introduction of blended
waxes has diminished the need for individual candle makers
to use additives. No doubt that blended waxes have been a
tremendous addition to the candle industry, but for many
manufacturers blending their own formulation has always and
will always be the way to go.
In the beginning developing a wax formulation is a little
bit of art, science and personal taste. The end result in
most instances is something slightly different than what
blended waxes can offer and allows you to continually improve
|Check out our current selection
of additives at
Because we do not wish to get to “scientific,” I
have broken the additives into three separate types. The
first type of additive that is on the market is what generically
we call Polymers. Simply put this family of additives is
synthetic polyethylene (sounds scientific doesn’t it?).
By far the most popular additive in this family would be
the Vybars, 103, 260 and 343. These patented products developed
by Baker-Hughes are without a doubt one of the best additives
to use in candle making. In smaller percentages they can
dramatically improve the look and performance of the candle.
The vybars improve the opacity, hardness and fragrance retention
and even color dispersion all by using less than 1% in most
The second additive is Microcrystalline waxes. I was going
to start to describe how these waxes have a higher amount
of isoparaffinic hydrocarbons and naphthenic hydrocarbons
but then I remembered that I was not going to get to technical.
Simply stated, microcrystalline waxes are used to harden
the wax and allow more fragrance to be used. In most applications
when using the Micro 180 a 4-5% usage level is common to
improve the performance of the wax. With the Mico LMP it
can also help with the adhesion in containers when used at
a level of 4-5%.
The third category is what we technically call “Everything
else.” Examples of this category include Stearic Acid,
Petrolatum, Fisher Trop and for the purpose of this article
Beeswax, Soy and Palm could all be considered additives.
Using these products at the right levels can really alter
the appearance and performance of the candle. For each type
of candle made the additive and percentage used will change.
For container candles, petrolatum is a common additive to
assist on adhesion to the container and reduce shrinkage,
usage levels vary anywhere from 10%-50%. In pillars stearic
is a common additive to assist with release from the mold.
Some manufacturers will use beeswax in both containers and
pillars to improve the performance of the candle.
As the popularity of soy wax continues to grow using these waxes with
paraffin waxes is always a popular trend.
What we have stated on many occasions one of the unique
features of candle making is that there really is not a right
or wrong candle formulation if the candle can be made safely
and can perform properly.
While blended waxes are here to stay, I just wanted to remind
everyone that there are many opportunities to develop a unique
formulation that would be your very own.
I just wanted to thank everyone who has sent me inquiries
and hope that you find my responses timely and complete.
For those not familiar, we also sponsor a site http://www.letsmakecandles.com
that has a plethora of information on candle making including
marketing and selling your candles.
When I review the feature article I noticed one key additive
area that was not included and one in which I get a lot
of the same basic question.
Do I need to add UV’s to my
The answer is a resounding yes. Ultra Violet light Absorbers (UVLA)
were designed to reduce the fading of candles that are displayed in
natural or artificial light. Think of them as sunscreen for your candles.
Ugly fading (photo degradation) can be caused by a variety of factors,
but nearly always can be avoided by the addition of UVLA. Usage levels
vary greatly depending upon application, but a general rule of thumb
for large batch lots is to use about 45 grams per 100 pounds of wax.
Smaller batches use 1/2 teaspoon to 10 lbs of wax. Some testing will
be required for different colors to maximize effectiveness. Some candle
makers view UVLA as an unnecessary increase in the cost of materials
while others realize the value of UVLA as an extremely simple way to
increase the shelf life of their candles. On average, UVLA only costs
about 4 or 5 cents per gram, which equates to less than $2.25 per 100
pounds of wax (just over 2 cents per one pound candle). You can even
announce the added value protection on your label and charge an extra
50 cents per candle. That is over 2000% mark-up on investment!