Candle Waxes And Their Uses
If you are new to candle making the choices of waxes can be quite confusing and we have put together this simple guide to help you choose the right wax for your project. Waxes can be broken down into groups depending on the material the wax is made from and also the uses for which each formulation is intended.
Before you decide whether you want to use a paraffin wax or a plant wax you must first decide what style of candle you would like to make. There are two basic types of candle:
Free standing moulded candles - These come in a variety of shapes and sizes and include those made in flexible rubber/latex moulds. Examples of moulded candles are Church candles and Yankee sampler (votive) candles. For these candles choose a wax formulated for pillar candles which is designed to shrink as it sets, allowing them to be released from the mould.
Container candles - These are candles which come in glasses, jars and tins and remain in these containers to burn. Examples of these candles are Glade, Airwick and Yankee jar candles. Wax used in these candles is softer, does not shrink and the candle cannot be removed from the container.
Once you have decided on the style of candle you would like to make you can then decide whether you want to make your candle using a paraffin wax, plant wax or beeswax. Paraffin waxes and plant waxes are available in formulations for pillar or container style candles, while beeswax is mainly used in pillar candles.
Group 1 - Paraffin Wax
Paraffin wax was developed back in the second half of the 19th century as an alternative to whale oils and produced candles that burned more cleanly and with no unpleasant smell. A white, waxy solid at normal room temperature these waxes are odourless, tasteless and non toxic. Our paraffin waxes are refined to the highest standards in modern refineries and have a low oil content which results in clean burning candles. Paraffin wax is still the most cost effective method of making candles and is easy to use, giving consistent results, which make it ideal for the novice candle maker. As a non renewable product paraffin wax has seen a decline in popularity in recent years, due to the introduction of renewable plant waxes, but is still the most cost effective method of making candles. Paraffin waxes produce bright colours when dyed with appropriate candle dyes and can also have fragrances added to make scented candles. Available in three formulas from That Flaming Candle Company.
100% Paraffin Pillar Blend – This wax is formed into pellets which makes it easy to handle and is suitable for all moulded candle applications, including use in rubber moulds.
Paraffin With 5% Added Stearin – This is the same as the 100% Paraffin Wax above but with 5% added Stearin (see below) which changes the structure of the wax by making it less brittle, increases the burning time, prevents tall candles bending and slumping and enhances the colour of dyed candles. Do not use in rubber moulds.
100% Paraffin Container – Supplied in slab form and specially formulated for use in jars, glasses and tins. This wax cannot be used in moulded candles as it doesn’t shrink (so therefore cannot be released from the mould) and forms large pools of liquid over the entire surface of the candle when burning.
Group 2 - Plant Waxes
In the late 90’s soy wax was developed as an alternative to paraffin wax but only found its way into the hobby candle making market a number of years later. It is now one of the best known plant waxes, but there are many lesser know plant waxes available on the market which are all made by partially hardening the plant oils. At That Flaming Candle Company we stock Soya wax sourced from the USA and Rapeseed wax from the UK and EU. Both contain only plant oils. Soya and Rapeseed waxes are both naturally cream in colour, burn with a warmer looking flame than paraffin wax and are suitable for making scented candles.
Soya Pillar - This wax is supplied in flake form and is suitable for all moulded candle applications.
100% Soya – Supplied in flake form and specially formulated for use in jars, glasses and tins. This wax cannot be used in moulded candles as it doesn’t shrink (so therefore cannot be released from the mould) and forms large pools of liquid over the entire surface of the candle when burning.
Soya Supreme – An improved formula wax for fragranced candles giving better scent throw. Supplied in flake form and specially formulated for use in jars, glasses and tins. This wax cannot be used in moulded candles as it doesn’t shrink (so therefore cannot be released from the mould) and forms large pools of liquid over the entire surface of the candle when burning.
Rapeseed Pillar – Supplied in powder form this wax is suitable for all moulded candles
Rapeseed Container - Supplied in slab form and specially formulated for use in jars, glasses and tins. Although this wax has a tendency to shrink more than other container waxes it should not be used in moulded candles as it still liquefies over a large area, which makes it unsuitable for moulded candles.
Stearin (Palm Wax) – Made from the oils obtained from palm trees, stearin is commonly used as a hardener in other candle waxes, and is often added to paraffin pillar wax to improve the burning time and structure of the candle. Stearin perishes rubber moulds. Supplied in micro beads.
Group 3 - Beeswax
Beeswax is the ultimate candle wax which requires very little preparation before it becomes a usable material. Produced by the honey bees as part of the honey making process this wax is harvested and then simply filtered to remove the debris. At That Flaming Candle Company we supply beeswax in pellet form for ease of handling. Beeswax varies in colour from light yellow to almost brown, depending on the season it is harvested and the plants the bees have foraged on, and we also have a ‘white’ form which is simply a more refined version of the yellow wax.
Because beeswax is not a manufactured wax it is a bit more difficult to work with than other waxes and the hardness of the wax can vary between batches. It takes a long time to shrink (it physically has to loose moisture to do so) making it difficult to use in larger moulded candles. Traditionally blended with paraffin wax to make church candles, it blends well with any other candle wax to make candles that are less prone to dripping and which burn for longer. Beeswax is also the only wax known to produce negative ions when burning, purifying the surrounding air and improving our feeling of well being.