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January 18, 2018

Candle Making: Things You Should NOT Do

January 2018
We hope all of our friends had a safe and happy holiday season. From most reports, it seems as if most retailers and online companies were pleased with their holiday sales. At Candlewic, we're excited for 2018 and look forward to building off of the momentum many had in 2017 and to continuing to offer new and exciting products to our customers.

The start of a new year always gets people excited to begin new projects, stick to their New Year's resolutions and build on what they may have already started. If you're a new reader, we're hoping that your New Year's resolution was to make high-quality candles. If you've just started researching candle making, you've probably found that it can be overwhelming at times.

In this issue, we're going to take an unconventional approach and highlight some things you should NEVER do when making candles, if you plan to make the best candles possible. Some of these bad practices can lead to making a dangerous candle, whereas others will result in not making the best candle possible. Some of the information we're going to cover may seem like common sense if you have some experience making candles but to first timers it is not or they have not come across our site yet.
Do Not Use Crayons to Dye Candles
One of the first issues you may discover with DIY candle-making sites is that the site may tell you that it's possible to use crayons to dye your candles. Although this practice likely will not make a candle unsafe, it will result in a candle that will not burn very effectively. Crayons generally are colored using pigment dyes that have very small particulates. When used in a candle, they often will clog the wick and not allow the candle to burn properly. In most instances, as the candle burns, more of these particulates will clog the wick, ultimately drowning out the flame.
Do Not Re-melt Old Candles
Another common recommendation is to re-melt all of your old candles and re-pour them. Candles can be made from the leftover wax from unburned candles, but it would be difficult to ensure they would burn safely. When making a candle, there are more than 300 different kinds of wicks to choose from. The manufacturer of the original candle likely chose the right wick for the wax he or she used based on the melting point of the wax, how much fragrance and color he or she added, as well as the diameter of the original candle. By blending the remnants of various candles, you will not know these key factors, causing you to guess what type of wick to use. If the wick is too large for the application, it will burn too hot and create a potential safety issue. It it's too small, it will burn a smaller circumference of the wax.
Heating Pouring Pots Correctly
A pouring pot is a very common item used in candle making. The pot is made of durable metal but should never be placed directly on a heat source and should only be used in a "double boiler" process. This can be done very simply by filling a large pot with water and placing the pouring pot in the water. Placing the pot directly on the heat source creates a situation in which you can overheat the wax, causing a potential safety issue. Also, as you pour your first candle, small amounts of wax can spill down the sides of the pot. When you put the pot directly on the stove, this wax will run down the sides of the pot and into the flame or heat source.
Choosing Fragrances Correctly
To many, this might seem obvious, but it's important that you use only fragrances and essential oils that were designed for use in candles. Perfumes, water-based fragrances and any non-oil based fragrance systems should not be used when making candles.
Choosing Candle Add-Ins
Several candle-making projects floating around suggest adding dried rose petals, lavender leaves, cloves and other natural ingredients to your candles. Under no circumstances should any of these be used where the wick comes in direct contact with the materials. Companies that do embed these types of items in their candles have spent significant time developing their process and ensuring that the wick will not come in contact with these materials. You even should avoid adding items that might seem as if they would not cause a problem, such as glass and other materials.
Be Sure to Read Candle Burning Instructions
Never burn a candle for more than four hours. If you look at all candle-burning instructions, they will state that you should burn the candle for only four hours. When any candle burns for more than four hours, it can develop problems such as smoking, sooting, excessive heat in the jar and real issues when the wax is down to the bottom of the container. Candle wicks are selected based on a protocol of burning the candle for four hours, extinguishing the candle, waiting one hour, and relighting. This process should be followed for the life of the candle. Wicks burned longer than that will create burning issues.
Be Sure to Test Wicks
One of the recurring issues we see involves wicks (especially those manufactured overseas). Never assume that a recommended wick will absolutely work in your specific application. Wick recommendations are only used as a starting point. The seller of the wicks does not know which wax you will be using, how much fragrance and color you plan to add or the type of candle you are making. You always should test your wick in a controlled environment.
Do Not Pour Wax Down Drains
Something else to keep in mind: When you're finished making any type of candle, and you have liquid wax remaining, never pour it down a drain or put your pouring pot in the dishwasher.
Understand Frangrance in Gel Candles
Another important point involves fragrances for gel candles. With paraffin, beeswax and natural waxes, most, if not all, candle fragrances can be used. However, if you're making gel candles, you must use fragrances that meet the required specifications. Candle gel is what is called non-polar, and it has a flash point above 170⁰F.
Research is Vital
There are other candle-making practices that you should follow to help make the process safer, as well as the resulting candle better. In any instance, when you're making candles to sell, iit's vital that you research and test to ensure that they will burn safely before taking them to market.
Always Take Safety Precautions
Finally, some additional safety practices to keep in mind when you're making candles would be to wear safety goggles when pouring fragrances and wax and to make sure you don't store fragrances on wood or any other non-metal surface. While candle making can be fun, and at times easy, it is important that you know the basics of the process, as well as the types of issues you may encounter.
There seems to be so many different recommendations on how to get started. Can you please help?
Yes. You should definitely do some research on candle making before fully jumping in. You should ask yourself some basic questions such as, should I use paraffin or soy wax? How do I pick the correct wick?  What is my pouring temperature? Help with all of these questions and more can be found on our website. One of the first places we recommend that you start is with past issues of The Enlightner. This monthly newsletter covers a wide range of topics, from how to start making candles to how to grow your candle making business. The newsletter is a free resource, and all back issues are available on our website

And, of course, I'm always here to help you if you believe we haven't covered a particular subject fully. 

If you're looking for a project to do with a group or family, be sure to check out the projects page.

Finally, the wick offerings page is a great resource covering all of the wicks that we have available as well as general recommendations regarding their use.
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