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February 04, 2013

Keeping Up With the Times


Keeping Up With the Times

It's hard to believe that it was 12 years ago, in February of 2001, that we published our first issue of the Enlightener. Over this time we have covered many different topics, from producing candles to selling candles to growing your candle business. What we always find truly amazing is that while the world around us changes, especially in technology, the basic way candles are made remains unchanged. In the world of technology on January 9, 2001, Apple announced iTunes at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco, for organizing and playing digital music and videos. Then on October 23 of the same year, Apple launches the iPod. (Source Think about where the iPod, iPad and iPhone are today.

The good thing for our industry is that while change occurs, it is very mild and allows candle companies to continue to thrive without huge investments to keep up with current trends. Our first issue of the Enlightener highlighted granulated wax, which is still very popular today, and how to use whipped wax, which is also still used for making a variety of candles. The key in this industry, however, is to continue to improve the candle making process and always look for new and innovative ways to sell your candles.

One of the more recent innovations that became extremely popular was the gel candle. Many companies were creating very unique candles with this product, none more popular than the "Fruit Preserve", where a jelly jar is filled with wax fruit inserts and then filled with gel. The champagne glass, beer mug and other drinks were also very popular candle creations.

This unique product, as previously defined by Penreco and now Calumet, is:

A specially selected, processed mineral oil that is gelled with copolymers that give them a clear rubbery texture. Similar to traditional wax candles, clear gel candles are commonly produced from a hydrocarbon base stock.

In some respects gel can be easier to learn with than most candle applications. However, it is very important when making any type of candle, whether paraffin, gel or natural wax, that all safety requirements are followed.

The selection of the proper gel is limited to three different densities. The determination of the proper gel for your application will be dependent upon the type of gel candle you will be making and how much fragrance will be used.

The low density (Candlewic's CG-1) is generally suited for gel candles with 0-3% fragrance loads. Generally, the low density can be poured at lower temperatures, ideally 195°-205°F.

The medium density (Candlewic's CG-2) is generally suited for candles with 3-5% fragrance. This density is a good gel for embedding many of the wax inserts. This particular gel is quickly becoming the most popular gel.

The high density (Candlewic's CG-3) is best suited when embedding heavier wax inserts and higher scent loads.

When making gel candles there are no additives needed, and in most instances, anything you add to the gel, including fragrance sometimes, can cloud the finished product.

Before making gel candles for resale it is important that you review all of the safety precautions for manufacturing these candles. These safety precautions include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Must use fragrances that are non-polar. (If you are not sure, check with your fragrance supplier)
  • Fragrances must have a flash point higher then 170° F
  • Proper wick selection is critical. In some instances you may want to undersize your wick. This can create a unique "glowing" effect as the candle burns. It is important to test burn wicks in all your containers.
  • A wick assembly should have a wick base that has a 9mm neck.
  • Depending upon density, do not go over the recommended percent usage for fragrance.
  • Always have burning instructions.
  • Make sure gel embeds are not flammable. (It can be surprising at times what objects are flammable.)

One of the most intriguing aspects of the gel candle is its endless ability to create new and interesting designs. The gel candle has brought a whole new level of "art" to candle making. Glass containers filled with "scenes" and other designs make this product as popular as ever.

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In this issue we have raised 2 important facts related to wicks, and I feel it is important to expand on them.

Q. What is meant by the neck height on a wick assembly?

A. On each wick base there is a neck that supports the wick and holds it in place. In most instances, the neck height can run as low as 3mm to as long as 9mm. The type of candle and jar being used will determine the neck height. It has always been recommended with gel candles that the 9mm neck be used. Many candle companies have also gone to 6mm and 9mm necks for paraffin candles as well.

Q. How do I select the proper wick?

A. This is an extremely difficult question for any supplier to answer. There are numerous variables that MUST be considered. This includes, but is not limited to the type and diameter of the candle being made, the melt point of the wax, the additives used, any fragrance load and color. Candlewic can provide some general assistance, but it is important that all candle makers test their wicks to ensure that the correct wick is used for the application. One of our past issues can also help in this process.


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Candle Terms

In many instances, we at Candlewic eat, sleep and breathe candle making and assume everyone knows all of the terms associated with the industry. In each issue we will try to introduce some of the terms that may not always be part of the standard candle making world.

In general this is a candle that appears to be "white washed" and/or clouded. Yankee Candle made this look very famous. Not all waxes will mottle, so for best results a wax designed to mottle should be used.

Pre-Wick Assembly
This is a complete unit of a waxed wick with the base cut to a specific height.

February 2013

Featured Project:
Natural Wax

Want to get more of your favorite fragrances out to your customers without them having to spend more money? Why not try offering them 2 or 3 in 1? This project gives you a way to layer different colors of natural wax in order to increase your offering of natural waxes. By layering different colors, you will give yourself a simple way to make your candles more marketable to selected groups. This is a great way to create fundraisers, holiday themes, or specialty candles for specific wholesale customers without the increased cost of customized labels. Simply layer the colors of your holiday, team, organization, etc. and it creates an instantly themed candle with little extra cost of materials.



Step 1
Select, clean, wick, and prepare your jars or molds as you normally do. Take a moment and plan out where the fill lines are going to be. For example, a patriotic jar may use equal amounts of colored wax for uniform stripes of red, white, and blue.

Step 2
Be sure to select the appropriate wax for jars or freestanding candles. Prepare both colors of wax at the same time in order to be ready for "show time".

Step 3
Heat jars or molds when necessary and pour your first layer. Note your ambient temperature (room-temp), your pour temperature, and start the timer.

Step 4
You have some flexibility in this step. The time and temperature of the second layer of wax changes the final result. Your individual taste will decide when and how hot to pour the second color. In general, you want to wait long enough for the first layer to set up enough so the second color does not mix with the first color, but not too long that the wax pulls from the sides. If the wax pulls from the sides, the second color slips between the first color and the mold, which creates what is considered by most to look undesirable. By adjusting the second color’s temperature and timing, you can create hard or soft color transition lines. Hard means a flat, distinct line of color change and soft means a softer faded color change. The ambient temperature and size of your candle affects the timing. Smaller candles will take less time (half an hour) while larger candles may take as long as 2 hours between pours. Cooler ambient temperatures decrease time, while warmer temperatures increase times.

Step 5
Repeat the same time and temperature for the rest of the colors so all color seams are uniform. As you take notes and get more experience, the timing and temperature starts to become second nature. You can even learn to mix hard color changes and soft color changes on the same candle for a unique look that will surely dazzle your customers.

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