Tom Turkey on Candle Making
With Thanksgiving right around the corner using a turkey reference only seems appropriate. In full disclosure I must state that I have never cooked a turkey but have watched and read about the different techniques available. While doing the research I came across this website. I found it very interesting that, yes, candle making shares many similarities to cooking a turkey. Before you laugh to hard, I encourage you to read our newsletter and the referenced website and, by the end (I hope) you have a wonderful candle and a HAPPY THANKSGIVING and not be on a "Wild Turkey Hunt".
One of the important things we like to stress in candle making is that the process you follow will be as important as the components used to make the candle. To make a point, if you start with the freshest turkey in the county but if it is not cooked properly, you can end up with a dry turkey. I am sure we have all had that experience. Candle making is much the same; you can have the best wax on the market (any of Candlewic's brands) but if you don't follow the proper process, you can end up with unsightly candles or worse unsafe candles.
Safe Methods for Melting Wax
Like the referenced website identifies, there are good methods for a turkey and there are downright unsafe methods for cooking a turkey and the exact same can be said about candle making. In candle making melting the wax safely is extremely important to you as the candle maker. When making candles on a smaller scale a double boiler should be used, this can be as simple as taking the pouring pot and placing in a pot with water. This avoids placing the pouring pot directly on the heat source. Most items that can heat liquid safely to 160°-170° F without direct heat can be used. Many people will truly use "Turkey Roasters" (Editors note: I guess not many people will be making candles on Thanksgiving), soup tureens and even crock pots. Unsafe methods include microwaves (soy wax can be the exception), placing the pouring pot on the direct heat source or any type open flame.
When making candles on a larger scale water jacketed units are now the most popular way to go. Wax melters are available in sizes ranging from as small as 70 pounds up to 1,000 pounds. The water jacketed system uses an immersion heater which heats the water to melt the wax. Methods of using a direct flame on larger pots should never be used.
Temperature, Temperature, Temperature
One of the fun other analogies we like to borrow is from the Real Estate Industry instead of Location, Location and Location for candle making we like to use Temperature, Temperature and Temperature. The pouring temperature of the wax you are using is critical to achieve the correct results. Pouring at too low a temperature can result in cold lines, blotching and other faults. If you pour over the recommended pouring temperature on low shrink waxes then the wax will shrink more then normal thus requiring it to be topped off. With soy waxes and palm waxes the fragrance can bleed out if poured to hot.
Always check to make sure you are pouring at the correct temperature for the wax you are using. Wax does not have to be poured at precise temperatures but it is always good to be within 6°-10° F of those temperatures and in some cases a little tighter. In some instances pouring hotter can achieve nicer finishes if the waxes will allow them to be poured hotter. Many pillars waxes can be poured hotter to improve the finish of the candle.
For a unique finish or what is sometimes called a rustic or grubby look pour your pillars or containers at very low temperature.
Warming the Container
The surface temperature of the container and/or mold you are pouring will influence the finish of the candle. Glassware, especially if stored outside or in areas of high humidity, should always be preheated with a dry heat. Moisture and candle making are not good together. The pre-heat process does not have to be to any specific temperature but should be warm to a touch. Over warming the container can also have impact on the candle. If you heat too high it will slow down the cooling process resulting in more shrinkage. When making pillar candles it is also recommended to warm aluminum or tin molds. Sometimes pouring the wax hotter can compensate for not preheating the pillar mold.
The final temperature is room temperature. There are many debates on what the ideal room temperature should be but the key is to minimize the moisture and do not have extreme swings in the temperature. If the room temperature is 58° F during the winter and goes up to 95° F during the summer you can see differences in the finish of the candle as well as the cooling process. Even with these changes you can compensate/correct by changing your pouring temperature and/or preheating process.
The Wick Matters
Another key component of the process is how you wick the container and/or pillar. No matter what type of candle you are making it is extremely important the wick is centered from the bottom of the candle to the top. For round aluminum pillars the wick pins are very effective at keeping the wick centered. In container candles using the Bow Tie Wick Bar or even the Wick Stick are great options to ensure the wick is centered in the candle. Wicks off center can come in contact with the glass container or cause a blow out on the sides of a pillar.
So if you have never made a candle and have cooked a turkey I think you are now ready to take candle making to the next level. Or if you are like me, I may have to cook this year's turkey. No matter what situation you are in we look forward to assisting you in making that perfect CANDLE and hope the turkey website helps with the cooking.
One of the frequent question I get is, "I have never made a candle should I start with a kit or purchase the materials separately?"
The best answer we can provide is it depends on where you going to take your "candle making" experience. If you know it is a one time deal then a kit is sometimes the best starting point. They have, for the most part, everything you need and you do not have to piece meal the items. In addition you do not have to purchase extra material that you may not need. For example, when purchasing rolls of wick, the 8 ounce roll is generally the smallest one we have available. This will make quite a few candles and if you know you are not making any more candles then you will have surplus material. The kit has generally enough material to make exactly what the kit contains. The problem with the kit is that the fragrances and colors have already been pre-selected. They are always popular fragrance/color combinations but it can take out the "customization" many people like to have when making homemade crafts.
Purchasing individual items can allow you to purchase the exact colors and fragrance you need but you must also then select the proper wax, wick size and the other items you will need to make the candles you desire. If only making 1, 2 or 3 candles then we would recommend purchasing the kits and maybe adding a couple of small bottles of the specific fragrance you want.
No matter which way you chose it will be a fun and rewarding experience. Candles make great gifts for friends, neighbors, co-workers and teachers.