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November 21, 2016

Making Candles is Just Like Cooking a Turkey

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November 2016
With the end of the presidential election most people are focusing on the upcoming holidays – the first big one, Thanksgiving, is nearly upon us. Several years back we wrote an article on how similar cooking a turkey can be to making candles and we received many positive notes from readers. Since we have many new subscribers, we felt it might be worthwhile revisiting this popular article. You will have to let us know if you agree that cooking a turkey and making a candle are basically the same thing.

In full disclosure, I must state that I have never cooked a turkey, but have watched the process for many years and read about the different techniques you can use. One of the best recipe resources seemed to be from the University of Illinois Extension.

So even if you might not agree that cooking a turkey and making candles are similar, you might get something new out of this University of Illinois Extension resource on cooking a turkey. I found it very interesting that, yes, candle making shares many similarities to cooking a turkey. Before you laugh too hard, I encourage you to read our newsletter and this recipe resource. By the end (I hope) you will have a wonderful candle and a HAPPY THANKSGIVING – without a "Wild Turkey Hunt."

One of the important items we always to stress in candle making is that the process you follow will be as important as the components used to make the candle. The same is true for cooking a turkey – you can start with the freshest turkey in the county, but if it is not cooked properly, you can end up with a dry turkey. 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 resource identifies, there are good methods for cooking a turkey, and there are downright unsafe methods for cooking a turkey. The exact same thing 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 always be used. This can be as simple as taking the pouring pot and placing it 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," soup tureens and even crock pots to melt wax. (Editor's note: I guess these folks have elected to make candles and not a turkey.)
  Unsafe methods include microwaves (soy wax can be the exception), placing the pouring pot on the direct heat source, or any heat source that involves an 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
It seems every issue we stress the importance of temperature and there is a reason – nothing can be more important than temperatures. The pouring temperature of the wax you are using is critical to achieve the correct results. Pouring paraffin waxes at too low a temperature can result in cold lines, blotching and other faults. However, when making soy wax candles, you may need to pour at the lowest possible temperature.

If you pour over the recommended pouring temperature on low-shrink waxes, then the wax will shrink more than normal, thus requiring it to be topped off. With many soy waxes, the fragrance can bleed out if the wax is poured too hot.

Always check to make sure you are pouring at the correct temperature for the wax you are using. Pouring temperatures vary significantly from wax to wax. For example, Soy 125 should be poured around 110-120°F, while a good pillar blend can be poured at 180-185 °F, and sometimes, when using certain molds, beeswax may need to be poured 185-195°F.

Wax does not have to be poured at precise temperatures, but to achieve more consistent results must 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 themselves to be poured hotter.

Many pillar 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 a 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 an impact on the candle. Heating at too high of a temperature will slow down the cooling process, resulting in more shrinkage. When making pillar candles, it is also recommended that you 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 keys are to minimize moisture and not have extreme swings in 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 in the cooling process. Even with these changes, you can compensate/correct by changing your pouring temperature and/or preheating process.

When preheating the container, moisture should not be introduced. For example, do not dip the container in hot water. Moisture can create its own set of problems.
Presentation
Whenever you look at articles on cooked turkeys they are always on a dining room table beautifully decorated with side dishes, plates and candle holders. You should think of your finished candles the same way. Your label should catch the potential customer’s eye. Certain candles are perfect for box and spending a little more on the box can certainly add value to the finished candle. If you have a complete candle line and a committed retailer customer, a "Display Box" can help your product stand out from the competition.

Maybe we didn’t sell you 100% on the fact that candle making and cooking a turkey are identical, but we tried and hope that from reading this it will help you make a better candle (and a better turkey using the resource we mentioned).

On behalf of the Candlewic Company we hope all of our readers have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.
CHANDLER'S CORNER
What is the easiest way to get started?
Hi. I'm Chandler. More people are thinking of making candles these days than any other time of the year – and the question is always: what is the easiest way to get started? If your plan is only to make candles one time for gifts and crafting projects, kits are always the best way to get started. The kit will have everything you need in the appropriate quantities. In addition, we have introduced a number of kits – some of the best ones are:
Kit-8
What makes this kit more popular is that you can choose from several combo packs.
  • 5 lbs. of Container Paraffin Wax
  • (3) 10-ounce Apothecary Jars
  • (3) 9-oz. Hexagon Jars
  • (10) 6" Prewicks, 5 Color Chips
You will also need Melting Pot (M-121A) and Thermometer (M-61) and a covered work surface.
 
Soy Container Kits
These are quickly becoming a favorite among customers. They are a great option because the pouring pot is included and makes up to 12 candles. Right now there are three choices – Summer/Spring , Fall and Winter . The fragrances are always specifically selected based on fragrance trends for those seasons.

If you wish to try your handle at making candles by purchasing the materials, we have some great sections with step-by-step instructions along with checklist of what you may need on our website . Either way is a great to get started and not a better time to start your new business, craft or hobby.
 
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