Candle making is a great craft to use for yourself and others. Making your own candles is a cheaper alternative to buying them from expensive stores and when making your own candles, you can customize the scents, styles, and colors you want. Use this guide to learn about the different types of wax, candles, and wicks as well as how to add scents and colors to your candles. This how-to guide will answer the basics questions about candle making as well as tips and the information needed to safely make your own candles at home.
The type of wax you choose can be determined by how you want the candle to carry smell, look, and the type of candle you are making. There are benefits and drawbacks to the different types of wax. To discover your preffered type of wax, expermentation is always the best option.
Paraffin wax is one of the most widely used waxes for candle making. A cheaper alternative, it is a derivable from petroleum, coal or oil. This wax is white and odorless and will keep a consistent appearance throughout your candle's life. If the paraffin wax you are using has a low melting point (less than 130° F) it will work well for a container or tealight candle. If the wax has a high melting point (greater than 130° F) it will be best to make a votive or pillar candle.
The oldest type of wax used in candle making, beeswax is made by bees during the honey making process. Dus to this fact, beeswax naturally has a sweet fragrance. This smell will not be consistent as it is dependent on the flowers the bees were using. This wax can be purchased in blocks, pellets, or pre-rolled sheets. Beeswax can be used to make almost any candle. Due to it’s weight and sticky quality, though, we recommend using beeswax in molds.
A relatively new wax, soy wax can be a cleaner and more environmentally friendly alternative. Soy wax is generally cheaper than beeswax and still has the natural quality. It is possible to find soy wax at a variety of melting points making it flexible in terms of what projects can be made. However, it is generally used for container candles. Soy wax is made from soybeans and usually a blend of oils. There are also soy waxes mixed with paraffin wax. Any candle that has more than 50% soy can be labeled as a “soy wax candle.” Though many people prefer soy wax for it’s natural quality, when burning it will sometimes “frost” during the process. This will cause parts of the candle to turn white.
Made from a combination of resin and mineral oil, gel wax is not an actual wax. Gel wax will still hold scents and colors, but will always be translucent. Primarily gel wax is used for container candles. Although gel wax can be found to be used for pillar or votive candles, it is much less common. Gel wax tends to burn more slowly than the average candle and will take longer to melt to make when making your candle. This type of candle has become more popular as the transparency allows for greater creativity. Whether creating different scenes or adding object that appear to be floating, gel wax adds another layer to candle making.
A container candle is a candle that when made, is poured directly into a container which is non-flammable and heat resistant. The wick has been placed in the container before the wax is poured in. Some common containers include glass jars and ceramic items.
Votive candles are candles that begin as stand alone and then are put into a container when they are meant to burn. They are usually square or cylindrical and once they are lit the wax will liquify in the container allow the wax to be controlled as the candles burn. Place into a heat resistant glass container to burn.
Pillar candles are solid and are not meant to be placed in a container. When burned, the wax will be contained within the candles. Make sure to place your candle on a heat resistant surface.
Taper candles are dipped into a container of wax, allowed to cool, and then dipped again until the candle is the desired diameter and length. They should be placed in candle holders when burned.
Gel candles are made by pouring the “wax” or gelled mineral oils/synthetic hydrocarbons into a container. The wax is transparent allowing for opportunities to make new designs. Some gel wax can be rigid enough to be stand alone.
In order to get a cleaner burn and the best scent from your candle, you need the correct sized wick. A properly sized wick will not produce carbon build-up when lit. The wax should be melted to the edge of your container and should not be more than ½ inch deep. If you are using a wick that is too large for the candle it can make the container too hot and crack and will cause the candle to burn out faster. If you are using a wick that is too small for the candle, it can extinguish before all of the wax is burned.
Wicks are measured by size and will increase in number as they get larger. Though the diameter of the candle is the most important component to take into consideration, the wax, type of candle, fragrance and colors can also be an important factor. The correct diameter of candle for the wick you are using can be found in the product description.
Too add a fragrance to a candle, use fragrance oils or scent blocks. Adding fragrance should be done once the wax is completely melted. Deciding how much fragrance to use in a candle will depend on the type and size of the candle. It will also be dependent on how strong you want the fragrance to be. Some common terms in candle making that refer to scent are scent throw, which refers to the fragrance emitted by the candle, and the scent load, which refers to the amount of fragrance the wax will hold.
To add a color to your candle you can either use a solid or liquid dye. Regular food coloring should not be used in candle making as it will not mix well. To use a liquid dye, add a few drops into the melted wax. To use a solid dye, chip off the amount wanted and add it to your wax to melt. To get a better idea of what color your wax is, dip a paper towel into the wax and allow it to dry.
Wick Tab Sustainers - These will help to place your wick directly where you want to in the candle
Wick Accessories - These will help keep your wicks in place and centered when pouring wax.
Tacky Wax - This wax is used to keep taper candles straight in their holders.
Stearine Flakes - These will take impurities out of your wax as well as making the candle burn slower.
Translucent Crystals - These crystals allow the wax to burn slowly and will help eliminate bubbles. It will also make colors appear more vivid.
Candlemaking Thermometer - A thermometer made specifically for candle making.
Seamless Pouring Container - This will make pouring the wax easier and create less mess.
For more crafts using candle making, check out our blog at ThickCrafts.com