March 01, 2007

No Detail Is Too Little

No Detail Is Too Little

Remember the first several times you made candles? Though it appeared everything went well, such as selecting the proper wax, fragrance and amount of color, you discovered that when you took the candle out of the mold, or looked at the candle the next morning something did not turn out right.   

In candle making this can happen frequently if the entire process is not controlled from start to finish. In this issue, we will explore some of the overlooked steps or products that can help ensure the entire process is controlled as much as possible.

Temperature - The Key Variable
Without a doubt, temperature is the key variable with any type of wax. Temperature is so important in the process that that we dedicated an entire issue to this variable. In candle making there are three temperatures which need to be managed - the pouring temperature of the wax, the room temperature and the mold or container’s surface temperature.

Many ColorsThe pouring temperature will vary depending on the type of wax being used; in general paraffin wax has a better finish when poured hotter, within safety limits. On the other hand, with natural waxes sometimes pouring at a lower temperature can help hold fragrance in the candle and eliminate the candle from sweating.  

Many people do not always have the ability to control the room temperature. This is acceptable, but you must be able to overcome these changes when the climate changes. If your work area gets cold during the winter months, pouring your wax hotter may be necessary. Be sure to check the technical sheets on the wax to find out the recommended pouring temperature.

It is advisable with almost any wax that you preheat the container or mold especially during the winter months or high humidity months. When preheating, the heat source needs to be a dry source like a heat gun or hot box. Hot water will actually introduce moisture in the process, which needs to be avoided.

Scent - It's What Sells Candles
Candle ScentsWe all know that scent is what sells most candles, but during the production of the candle, it can also be responsible for the candle not turning out correctly. If you are using a straight paraffin wax, and your candle starts to sweat, it is generally a sign that there is too much fragrance. By adding a small percentage (1% or less) of Vybar 103 for pillars and Vybar 260, it can help correct the situation. The caution here is you don’t want too much Vybar in the formulation because it will affect the scent throw, and in some instances, cause the candle to wrinkle on top.

In soy, a common problem is always trying to get enough scent in the candle so it has good cold/hot scent throw. If your soy candle has crusting on top, or the candle is sweating, there are several solutions available. Try pouring the wax a little cooler, some soy waxes can actually be poured at around 100 degrees F. Another suggestion would be to add maybe 5-10 percent palm stearic to your formulation. The last suggestion, which is always the most undesirable, is to reduce the amount of fragrance in the candle.

Pillar MoldPillar Mold Obstacles
It seems any candle maker’s career is not complete without having a pillar candle that gets stuck in a mold at least once. As everyone begins experimenting with different types of waxes, colors and designs, inevitably one of these formulations will result in a candle getting stuck in the mold. In order to avoid this, whenever possible, it is best to spray the mold with a mold releasing agent and pour slightly above the recommend pouring temperature. If the candle does happen to get stuck, place it in the freezer for 30 minutes, this should help get the candle out.

Common Problem #1 - Fading Color
One of the more common occurrences is that several days/weeks after the candle is poured, the brilliant color previously achieved has faded. With any candle it is important that you use UV Light Stabilizers. This will help the candle from fading because of ultra-violet lights. Both UV531 and UV5411 are necessary to prevent fading.

Common Problem #2 - Off Center Wick
A common problem, that is not always visible, is the wick is off center somewhere in the candle. It is very important that the wick remains centered in the candle the entire length of the candle. Each type of candle requires a different method to a centered wick. In votives this can easily be achieved using the votive pins, or a great assistance is the self-centering tabs on the votive.

Round aluminum pillar molds have pins that can slide up through the bottom to ensure the wick is centered. These are a great way to eliminate the time-consuming task of wicking the mold and ensuring that the wax does not leak out.

Wick StickWith containers, the Wick Stick is a great device to help the wick stay centered in containers. The limiting factor is it can only be used in waxes that need topping off. Another often over looked good item is the glue dots. These let you secure your wick on the bottom of the container, and then you can secure the top with a wick bar.

The Most Important Suggestion
The most important recommendation we can always make is to monitor every step of your process. This will allow you to continue to repeat the same look and results in your process.

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

CHANDLER'S CORNER

There is one question that I get asked more often then any others, and one I never have the “right” answer for:
What is your best fragrance? 

That is an extremely tough one to answer and is similar to asking a child what’s their favorite candy. I love all of our fragrances and each and every one of them is carefully selected to ensure they meet our customers' requirements.  

We evaluate color and fragrance trends to ensure we have products that meet our customers’ targeted audience. There are several “major” high-end retailers that “drive” the fragrance market trends and we always monitor what they are doing.

What’s interesting is, when you look at the best sellers they always come back to the basics; cinnamon, vanilla, red apple peel. So, when someone asks me what’s our best fragrance, I find it best to list our top 10 best sellers.



March 2007

Featured Project:
No Melting Required

One of the great assets of a small business is the ability to get involved in a community and local organizations. This is a great way to introduce yourself and get your company’s name in the minds of the leaders of these organizations. As the summer rapidly approaches many are planning activities for summer camps, Vacation Bible Schools and school year end carnivals. While standard candle making and/or soap making may be too extensive, there are still many activities to introduce these crafts and help spread your name with very little cost. 

100 % natural candles with rolled beeswax
BeeswaxFor those of you unfamiliar with the concept of the beeswax sheets, they are exactly what they sound like – sheets of beeswax, but come in a variety of colors.

Typically a square braid wick is used for rolling beeswax and the type of wick depends on the size of the finished candle. I recommend you get a roll of a small and medium to start (4/0 and 1/0).

We have books available that show the many wonderful things you can do with beeswax sheets. I recommend BK-3, BK-4 and BK-5 to get started.

Not sure which to try? I suggest getting a sampler pack of mixed colors and textures. You do not have a choice of color or style, but it is usually a good sampling across the board and it comes with a free book.

Wax Art Crystals Candles
Wax art crystals, or granulated wax, is a wax that has been formed into tiny beads slightly larger than sand. The product is available in a myriad of colors. What makes this so easy is that the wax does not have to be melted. It can be easily poured into any "candle safe" container. For anyone who has seen Sand Art, the concept is identical except when you are finished you have a candle that can be burned.

Once you have selected the proper container, take a completed wick assembly (one with a base) and place into the glass container. The best wick for this application is going to be something like a 34-40 paper.

Granulated WaxThe best way to get started is to select several colors and gently pour into the glass container with a spoon or other dispensing tool. You can take multiple colors and layer them in the glass to the desired height. For ultimate effects such as waves, you can take a long, narrow pointer such as a knitting needle and slide down the side of the glass container. This will create "waves" in the wax. This is a project any age child or adult can enjoy. This is a great project for cub scouts, girl scouts and camping trips. The candles can even be used as wedding favors.

The true advantage to wax art crystals is that they may also be melted and poured to make votives, pillars and even small containers. The wax art crystals are easy-to-handle and can be melted in any type of double boiler. The colors are slightly more concentrated, so white wax art crystals should be added to any color to lessen the intensity. What is nice is you can mix, match and melt the crystals to get any color shade you desire. The wax art crystals should be considered by any candle company that is interested in trying to learn how to pour and make candles.

Soap BasesEasy Soap Bars
The last project is to take a soap base, color and/or scent it, and pour into a larger cookie sheet maybe 1/4" thick. When it’s set up, cut the sheet into any smaller size that is easier to handle. Then get some cookie cutters and allow the kids to cut several pieces of the soap base. Then put a small amount of water between each layer, and when it dries the child has a finished soap bar.

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