Choosing the Right Wax
To an "outsider" candle making should be easy; you melt wax, add color/fragrance, put
the wick in, light and watch the beautiful glow of the candle with that excellent fragrance throw.
Don't we all wish it was that easy?
No matter if it is your first time or you have been in the business for over 40 years (like us),
it is always important to review to make sure you are using the right wax for your application.
There are a number of resources available to help you evaluate this, but in the end the key is choosing one
that will work for YOU.
In this issue we will attempt to cover the basics that can help you narrow down the selection
or evaluate to make sure you are using the right wax. The first step in choosing which wax to use
is determining what type of candles you want to make: containers, pillars, votives or tapers.
Using the proper wax for each type of candle will ensure professional-grade candles.
Once you determine the type of candle, you have even more choices to make; do you want paraffin
or natural wax candles? Most automatically assume they want to make natural wax candles,
but that is not always the right choice for everyone. Natural waxes offer many positive attributes
but do lack one important attribute: they have a difficult time producing the same fragrance throw as
a paraffin wax candle. So, keep in mind, if fragrance is the most important factor, then you will
have to consider using paraffin wax to some level.
Containers are generally the most popular type of candles and allow the largest selection of waxes.
There are 5 distinct differences about container waxes:
These waxes are generally a paraffin base with a high percentage of petrolatum
to reduce the shrinkage.
- In most candle applications (14 ounces or less), no topping off is necessary.
- It has decent adhesion to the container
- Produces a good fragrance throw
- As a very soft wax, it can bleed fragrance during the warmer time periods
- It cannot get vibrant colors due to the high percentage of Petrolatum
This type of wax is generally a hard wax that has a
vybar, or similar additive, and will require topping off.
- These waxes generally have the best fragrance throw for containers
- Vibrant colors can be achieved with these waxes
- Usually are a little more durable in warmer climates
Soy Waxes & Palm Wax
These days, there are a large selection of Soy waxes available.
Without doubt, Soy wax can be the easiest of waxes to use. For a thorough breakdown of all the soy
waxes, we encourage you to visit our April 2011 issue.
- All natural
- Easy to work with
- Generally no topping off is required
- They cannot deliver fragrance like a paraffin wax candle
- They cannot get vibrant color; the wax will need much more dye
Any wax that does not have any type of additive is considered a straight wax.
The best waxes to use would be anything with a melt point of 120-129.
For classification purposes, a mottling wax would fall under this category.
- The most cost effective wax to use
- Can create many different looks to your candles by altering the additives used
- Can maximize the fragrance delivery by cutting back and only using the necessary amount for your formula
- Will take time to test which formula will work for you
- Requires extra inventory items like additives
One of the growing segments of the candle industry is the use of hybrid
waxes, which are a blend of paraffin and Soy. By using these blends you get the advantage of fragrance
delivery from the paraffin wax and have some "natural components" as well.
- Can label candle with "Soy Blend," "Soy enhanced," etc.
- Can take advantage of cost effectiveness of both Soy and/or paraffin.
(If pricing of one goes up, you can use a little more of the cost competitive product)
- Offers better fragrance throw than all natural wax candles
- While fragrance throw will be better than Soy, it will still not achieve what an all-paraffin wax candle can.
The key is always choosing the wax which is best for you. The best thing about candle making is that
any of the waxes can be blended together at any level you desire.
In addition to the ones above, other selections include beeswax, gel and Palm.
If you're interested in seeing specific waxes offered by Candlewic, be sure to check out the video below:
Whenever I visit websites, the term "mottling" is used frequently. What is that?
Mottling is commonly a candle that has a "white washed" look and/or clouds throughout the candle.
The mottled look is a unique "fracturing" of the wax and is only a surface look. This appearance
has been made famous and popular by Yankee Candle. Not all waxes will mottle. A specific wax is required to achieve this look.
The 2530 is best to make mottled containers
and the 4045 is best to make mottled pillars.
To Each Their Own
In this issue, we focused a great deal on which wax to use for making container candles, but you do not
want to overlook the other side of the candle market: pillars. Making pillars can complement
any candle line.
Aluminum molds for making freestanding candles are a great investment, as they are an inexpensive
way to extend your line of candles. Jars have become so popular in recent years, that many
candle makers have forgotten that pillar candles add a real touch of beauty to any home's décor.
Pillar candles offer extremely vibrant colors. Due to the fact that there is no glass blocking, the
true color of the candle can be seen with the naked eye. The profit margin on pillar candles may be
higher, because the price of the glass is removed from the cost of raw materials. Aluminum does
not rust, so you can enjoy your molds for many years.
Selecting your mold can be fun. Candlewic offers many shapes and sizes, depending on the pillar
that would best complement your existing line of candles. There are round molds,
plus many other unique shapes in our designer series of polycarbonate molds.
There are two wicking techniques that are most commonly employed when using aluminum molds.
You can use the traditional method or the pillar pin method. Both techniques work well depending
on the volume of candles produced or the amount of labor available.
The traditional method involves the mold,
raw wicking on a spool, a wick bar
and a rubber plug.
This method is best for lower volume production or in the instance when you want to leave a little
length of wick on the candle to attach a bead or a tag. You simply thread the wick through the mold
and place a rubber plug into the small hole to hold the wick in place. Place a wick bar across the
large opening of the mold, wrap the wick around the bar and pour the wax. After the wax has cooled,
the finished product will have the wick nicely centered down the middle of the candle.
The pillar pin method involves a round mold, a pillar pin
and a pre-wick assembly. This method is
better suited for the small to large production run. Basically, you are making a candle with no
wick and inserting a wick after it cools. There are two ways to use the pin. You can either stick
the disc part of the pin down into the mold or stick the pin up through the mold from the outside
bottom. Pour the wax and let it cool. When you are done, you will have a candle with a hole through
the center core and no wick. Take a wick assembly, insert it up through the hole and you are done.
The wick will be perfectly centered. The pillar pins are only suited for the round aluminum molds.
When using aluminum molds, there are a few tips and techniques that will help you regardless of the method you use.
- Take good care of your molds. Do not use them for any other use, such as a penholder or thermometer
holder, because you may scratch the inside, which will be apparent on the finished candle.
- By heating or cooling the mold you can achieve different aesthetic qualities to the finished mold.
Cold molds give a primitive appearance, while warm molds may give a good gloss.
- Keep molds level, unless a desired layered appearance is trying to be obtained. By resting the
mold on various angles, some neat stripes can be achieved.
- Take careful note on the pour temperatures. By adjusting the temperature you can control the
shrinkage. Pouring too hot produces more shrinkage and may involve more topping off, while pouring
too cool may not give you enough shrinkage, therefore making it difficult to remove the mold.