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May 21, 2015

Candlewic Top 10


"The En-Light-ener"
Candle Making Newsletter

Candlewic Top 10

As our readers know we truly enjoy taking our newsletter in many different directions but always bring the main subject back to candle making. If you review the past issues, you will see we have previously compared candle making to the Academy Awards, cooking a turkey and even how a fast food establishment, like White Castle, can help grow your candle business.

This month it has been hard to escape a couple of major subjects: the upcoming unofficial/official start of the summer season AND the final episode of the David Letterman show. This marks Mr. Letterman's 33rd year on the air. We have him beat in that we have been in business for close to 43 years! However, his impressive stat line is that he has done nearly 6,028 nightly episodes. Our Enlightener has an impressive history too. This is our 180th issue, but we're not sure we will ever get to 6,000 issues!

Since one of Letterman's legacies will be his Top 10 List, we feel it is only appropriate to honor this tradition or Mr. Letterman might feel cheated. We also hope by keeping this issue light you might read it on your mobile device at the beach, mountains or wherever you might be spending this Memorial Day weekend. If you need additional detailed information on any of these subjects, chances are we have covered them in a past issue.

So here we go on the Top 10 things you should know about candle making

#10 Understanding glassware measurements - The glassware industry always measures a container's liquid capacity when it's filled to the top. When making candles you do not fill the glass to the top with wax and wax does weigh less than water, so your container will not hold the capacity listed on the box. It is important to weigh the glass empty, fill the container to the desired level, weigh again, and subtract the weight of the glass. This will give you the amount of wax to put on your label.

#9 When making gel candles use only fragrances designed for gel. It is important when making gel candles that you adhere to the recommended fragrance load for each density and that you use only fragrances designed for gel. Fragrance that can be used in gel must have a flash point above 170°F and be non-polar. All of the fragrances that meet this criteria have a green triangle and flame on the Candlewic website.

#8 You only get one chance to make a first impression. You want the consumer to get that first positive feeling toward your candle so they will pick up the candle and smell. Once you get them to pick up that candle, the selling process has started. In order to get the first favorable impression, be sure to evaluate all the visual elements of your candle before sending to any retailer, consumer or taking to a show.

#7 Blended waxes are a great way to start your candle making. The first component beginners choose is the wax: natural, straight paraffin or a blend. A blend is always a great way for a beginner to start because it generally has all of the additives needed. With blends, all you need to do is melt the wax, add your color/fragrance, and pour. Blends are also generally formulated to hold a significant fragrance load and in some instances close to 8-10%.

#6 Many candle waxes require back filling or topping off. With the exception of those blended waxes that have been designed as one-pour, all waxes have some level of shrinkage. As the candle sets up it will shrink around the middle of the candle, requiring additional wax to be added. The back fill/top off will be necessary to create a smooth top in containers or, in the case of pillars, a fairly uniform bottom to the candle. It is also important to note that even though it might be a low shrink wax, in many instances, when the container is larger then 12-14 ounces, topping off may be necessary.

#5 Fragrance load. Most in the industry reference fragrance load as the percent of fragrance that is in your wax formula. The general rule most people start with is 5%, which then gets rounded to 1 ounce per pound of wax. This should only be used as a starting point. Some fragrances might require more than that to achieve the desired fragrance throw, while others might require less. While you want your candles to smell the best they can, adding too much fragrance can cause the candle to smoke.

#4 Soy is a great product and has many positive attributes, but cannot achieve the fragrance throw paraffin candles can. Right now soy is more cost effective than paraffin, renewable, pretty exclusively made here in the US, and easier to work with. Everything about soy makes it a perfect wax. Unfortunately, the one drawback to soy is that you cannot achieve a fragrance throw like you can with paraffin wax. When comparing fragrance throw on all soy candles you should only compare to other 100% .

#3 What the label does not include can be important. Many times when a label states "Soy Blend," "Soy Based," and other similar phrases, there is a good chance there is a paraffin wax blended in. When comparing your candles, be sure they are similar products.

#2 Wick sizing should always be evaluated. For a candle to perform optimally the wick needs to be matched to the wax, color, diameter and fragrance load. The proper wick for your candle can only be determined by testing in your application. Another important aspect in terms of the performance of the wick is that the wick must be centered at all times. Wicks that are not centered may cause the wick to lean to one side with the potential to come in contact with the glassware. For best results in containers, secure the bottom the wick with glue dots (GD-1) and secure the wicks on top of the container using with the Bow Tie Wick Bar (M-503) or Jar Cap (M504). For more information on how to choose the proper wick, be sure to check out our candle wick page.

#1 Process IS as important as the components. One of the most important things to remember as you start your candle making process is to record the various aspects of your process. This includes the room temperature, pouring temperature, if you preheated the container and if possible, the surface temperature of the container. By doing this before a problem arises, you can eliminate some of the preliminary causes for weather-related changes in your candles. It is always important during the winter months to monitor where you store your glassware and molds. If possible, avoid storing your glassware in outside sheds or garages; if you have to, then be sure to bring them in well before you need to fill them. Also, the candle containers should be preheated to take any chill out of the surface of the containers.

While this list only contains 10 important facts there are many others to consider as well, so take a look at the other resources on our website to really help you improve your candle line. For more on education and free resources, click here.


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Get Rid of Air Bubbles

Since the consensus top item in candle making is the process, including pouring temperatures, I only thought it would be appropriate if I provided some guidance on how to get rid of air bubbles. As the summer approaches it will bring challenges to the candle making community. In most instances air bubbles are caused by air trapped between the wax and the surface of the container you are pouring into. For containers several things will help reduce/eliminate the air bubbles: Preheat the container - In most instances warm to the touch is all that is needed. Pour hotter - As the cold weather affects many work environments, the wax can set up quicker. Raising your pouring temperature even by 5-10 degrees F is enough. For pillars the same procedures can help eliminate these air bubbles.

May 2015

Featured Project:
DIY Citronella Candles

It's finally getting warmer outside, which means cookouts and outdoor fun is just around the corner! But with that warm weather come the uninvited guests . . . bugs! And more specifically, mosquitos!

Don't let these party crashers ruin your next get-together.

Check out this blog post for instructions on making your own citronella candles to keep the bugs at bay!

The best thing about this project is that you can use a variety of containers, from mason jars to terracotta pots and tin pails-- get creative!



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