As the main component of candles, the type of wax used can significantly impact the final product. In this article, we will discuss the different types of waxes and their specific applications in candle making, helping you make an informed decision on which wax best suits your needs.
Choosing Wax for Your Candles
Waxes can be broadly categorized into pillar waxes and container waxes. Pillar blends are used for making free-standing candles, while container waxes are softer and designed for use in a container.
The choice of wax depends on important factors such as the type of candle being made, budget, fragrance strength, and eco-consciousness. To help you make the right choice, let’s delve deeper into the specific applications and qualities of each wax type.
|Wax Type||Best for||Price||Eco-Friendliness||Scent Throw||Melting point||Texture|
|Paraffin Wax||Pillar candles, container candles, votives||Low||Low||High||115-140 ℉ (46-60 ℃)||Hard|
|Soy Wax||Container candles, wax burners, tarts||Moderate||High||Moderate||113-127 ℉ (45-53 ℃)||Soft|
|Beeswax||Pillar candles, tapers, rolled candles||High||High||Low||143-149 ℉ (62-65 ℃)||Hard|
|Coconut Wax||Container candles, wax burners, tarts||High||High||High||124-127℉ (51- 53 ℃)||Soft|
|Rapeseed Wax||Container candles, pillar candles||Moderate||High||Moderate||125-130 ℉ (52-54℃)||Moderate|
|Palm Wax||Pillar candles, votives||Moderate||Moderate*||Moderate||178-182 ℉ (81-83 ℃)||Hard|
|Gel Wax||Gel container candles||Moderate||Low||High||178-182 ℉ (81-83 ℃)||Gel-like|
Moreover, the combination of wax, fragrance, wick, and vessel is crucial for the overall quality of the candle and the resulting experience.
Paraffin wax is the most common and affordable candle wax, but it is not eco-friendly and emits small amounts of volatile organic compounds when lit, which can cause respiratory irritation. Despite these drawbacks, paraffin wax is still used by luxury brands because it makes great-smelling candles, and if made well, paraffin candles should not produce much soot. It is widely used because it is inexpensive and can hold a high amount of fragrance and color. However, it is worth noting that candles are rarely made using 100% paraffin.
It is suitable for creating pillar candles, container candles, and votives. Paraffin wax is also great for creating intricate designs and detailed molds due to its excellent mold release properties. However, if you prioritize eco-friendliness, you may want to consider other wax types or blends.
Soy wax is perfect for eco-conscious candle makers who want a more natural and environmentally friendly option. It is ideal for container candles, as it has a lower melting point and adheres well to glass surfaces. Soy wax can also be used for wax burners and tarts. However, it is not recommended for free-standing candles or highly detailed molds due to its soft texture. Soy waxes have good eco credentials, but they generally generate less scent throw than paraffin equivalents.
Since it has a fairly low melting point, you can use a double boiler to melt soy wax.
Other Types of Wax
Apart from the aforementioned waxes, there are other types of candle wax, including rapeseed wax, a new type of wax that offers a slow burn and is sustainable but not commonly available in the US. Candle gel wax is not actually wax at all but a combination of resin and mineral oil. Palm wax is made from natural oil, palm oil, and produces a crystalline or “feathered” effect in the candles.
Beeswax is the go-to choice for those who appreciate its subtle sweet aroma and air-purifying properties. It is suitable for making pillar candles, tapers, and votives. Beeswax can also be used to create beautiful rolled candles using sheets of beeswax. However, its natural fragrance may not mix well with other scents, so it might not be the best choice if you want a strongly scented candle.
Candle Gel Applications
Candle gel, a unique alternative to traditional waxes, is not actually a wax but a combination of resin and mineral oil. It is an excellent choice for those who want to create visually stunning and transparent candles with the illusion of suspended objects, such as seashells, decorative stones, or glitter. Due to its clear appearance, gel wax is perfect for creating layered candles with multiple colors or for showcasing embedded items. Although gel candles have a slower burn rate compared to traditional waxes, they may not hold as much fragrance or have a strong scent throw. Keep in mind that working with gel wax requires some extra precautions, as it has a higher melting point and can be more challenging to handle than other types of waxes.
Nevertheless, gel wax offers a unique opportunity to explore your creativity and produce one-of-a-kind candles that stand out from the rest.
Coconut Wax Applications
Coconut wax is an excellent choice for those who value sustainability, high-quality fragrance, and color retention. It works well for container candles, wax warmers, and tarts, but due to its soft texture, it is not recommended for pillar candles or highly detailed molds. Keep in mind that coconut wax is more expensive than other types of wax, so it might not be the best option for those on a budget.
Palm Wax Applications
Palm wax is known for its unique crystalline or “feathered” effect in candles. It is suitable for making pillar candles and votives, but it is essential to ensure that the palm oil used is sustainably sourced to avoid contributing to deforestation and habitat loss.
Since it has a fairly high melting point, it is better to use wax melter.
Rapeseed Wax Applications
Rapeseed wax, a relatively new contender in the candle-making arena, is becoming increasingly popular due to its eco-friendly characteristics and long-lasting burn time. Derived from rapeseed oil, this sustainable wax offers a clean burn with minimal soot production, making it an appealing choice for those seeking environmentally conscious options.
Rapeseed wax is well-suited for creating both container candles and pillar candles, providing a smooth, creamy appearance that many candle makers find visually appealing. In addition to its sustainability, rapeseed wax offers excellent fragrance retention, allowing the creation of beautifully scented candles that will fill a room with aroma.
However, it’s worth noting that rapeseed wax might be challenging to find in certain regions, especially in the United States. As its popularity grows, the availability of rapeseed wax is expected to increase, making it a more accessible option for candle makers seeking eco-friendly alternatives.
Blending different types of waxes allows candle makers to harness the desirable qualities of multiple waxes, creating a unique combination that caters to their specific requirements. By experimenting with various blends, candle makers can find the perfect balance between aesthetics, scent throw, burn time, and eco-friendliness.
For instance, a blend of 70-80% paraffin wax and 20-30% vegetable wax often provides the best of both worlds, with the sensory benefits of paraffin wax, such as better scent throw and color retention, combined with the eco-friendly attributes of vegetable waxes. This combination is particularly suitable for container candles that prioritize strong fragrance and vibrant colors.
On the other hand, a blend of 70-80% vegetable wax and 20-30% paraffin wax results in a more environmentally friendly candle with reduced triglyceride content. This composition also prevents common issues like frosting and pitting on the surface of the candle, offering a smoother and more visually appealing finish. Such a blend is ideal for those who seek a sustainable option without sacrificing the quality of their candles.
The world of candle-making offers a plethora of wax types, each with its own unique characteristics and applications. Whether you prioritize eco-friendliness, fragrance strength, or budget, there is a wax type that fits your needs. Remember that wax blending allows you to tailor your candles to your specific preferences, and experimentation is key. As you explore different waxes and their applications, you’ll gain a better understanding of which one works best for your candle-making goals. Happy candle-making!
What is the best wax for beginners in candle making?
Soy wax is a popular choice for beginners because it is easy to work with, eco-friendly, and relatively inexpensive compared to other waxes. However, it is essential to keep in mind that each wax has its unique properties and applications, so it is worth experimenting with various waxes as you gain experience.
Can I mix different waxes together to create a custom blend?
Yes, mixing different waxes is possible, and many candle-makers create custom blends to combine the benefits of multiple waxes. However, blending waxes requires trial and error, and it is crucial to test the performance of the blended candles before selling or gifting them.
How can I add color to my candles?
There are several ways to add color to candles, including using dye blocks, liquid dyes, and dye chips. The choice of colorant depends on the type of wax used and personal preferences. It is essential to test the compatibility of the colorant with your chosen wax and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for usage rates.
What type of fragrance oils should I use in candle making?
It is essential to use fragrance oils specifically formulated for use in candles. These oils are designed to be compatible with various types of wax and have a high flashpoint to ensure safety during the candle-burning process. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended usage rates for the best results.
Can I use essential oils in candle making?
While it is possible to use essential oils in candle making, they are generally more expensive and may not provide as strong of a scent throw as fragrance oils. If using essential oils, ensure they have a high flashpoint and are compatible with your chosen wax.