When it comes to making your own candles, using soy wax is a great option for several reasons. Your candles will burn slower, and you will get a much cleaner, soot and chemical-free burn and, best of all, for frequent candle makers, wax made of soy is water-soluble and much easier to clean. As user-friendly and natural as soy wax is, there are a few common issues that can arise during candle production.
The main problems encountered while making soy candles such as air pockets and a cloudy film forming over the top of the candle have to do with the temperature of the wax when it is poured into the container. The wax should never exceed 200℉ when melting and should be poured after the wax has cooled, at about 135℉.
The wax should be poured slowly into the chosen container to avoid a rough candle surface, but this can also be fixed by reheating the top with a heat gun or pouring a new layer of wax over the blemishes. Other visual imperfections in the finished product such as. Tunneling: (the cavity that forms around the wick after a candle is burned). Can be prevented by selecting the right-sized wick. The wick can either be too small or too big if the wax is burning too quickly. In addition to shortening the life of homemade soy candles, a wick that is the wrong size can cause the finished project to not give off any fragrance when burned.
The fragrance should also be mixed into the wax when it has cooled to 185℉; to avoid losing fragrance or “throw” when burned. It should also be noted that the fragrance used should be made for candle making to ensure that the scent is not lost or overpowering.
All in all, soy wax, when used according to the aforementioned specifications; is a great, more organic ingredient to use for homemade candles. Now that we have established the main factors that can affect the outcome of your candles, let’s explore each a little more closely.
Temperature is Everything
As I mentioned before, soy is a wax that is gentle to its surroundings; but it tends to burn pretty hot. After you have picked out a glass or other non-porous container that can withstand the heat; (we always want to avoid the container melting, smoking or putting off harmful chemicals while the candle is burning). We can select and melt our chosen soy wax.
One of the best ways to melt the wax without overheating is to use a double broiler and thermometer. You will want to make sure that you begin the cooling process before the wax reaches a temperature of 200℉. This will prevent some yellowing that can occur after the candle has cooled. Monitoring the temperature of the wax as it is cooling is important so that you can make sure that it is not being poured into the container at too high or low of a temperature. If your wax is too hot or too cold; you could end up with air pockets or other inconsistencies within the candle that you won’t be able to fix later!
Another helpful tip is to slightly increase the temperature of the container that you are working with; so that you can avoid some gaps that can appear between the candle and specifically clear glass. Note that the glass should not be too hot to touch once warmed. As you are just trying to get the glass to expand from the heat before; the hot wax is poured in. This may also help with the milky film that often forms on the top of soy candles, although it cannot always be prevented (that’s just one of the quirks of soy wax).
The wax should also be poured slowly; so that the top of your candle won’t end up with quite as many craters from the wax cooling unevenly. Luckily, if you run into any of these issues, they can easily be fixed by pouring another layer of wax over the top to cover it up.
Which Wick? And Other Conundrums
Beyond selecting your desired soy wax and container. It is important to pick the right kind of wick to go with the candle that you are creating. Not only can you select different sizes. But you can also choose if you want a wooden wick, cotton wick or other varieties. Finding out what works best for the candles that you want to create may take some trial and error. Since using different waxes and containers can vary the outcome.
If you notice that you are only getting a small melt pool when the candle is lit. You will more than likely want to increase the size that you use next time so that your candle burns evenly and none of the wax is wasted. Conversely, if the finished candle is producing dark smoke or soot, you will know that your wick is too big.
Another way to make sure that your candle is burning evenly is to make sure that the wick is secured in the center of the candle. A centered wick also looks a lot nicer! After the wax has been poured, you are not really going to be able to fix the placement of your wick. So, it doesn’t hurt to experiment before you settle on a final product that you like. You may find that you like the burn or appearance of a cotton wick better than a wooden wick or vice versa in the process.
Similar to cratering, sometimes a hole can form right beside the wick after the wax has cooled and hardened. At first glance, this could possibly seem like an issue with the wick. But it actually has more to do with air being trapped underneath the surface of the wax. You can actually fix this relatively easily by filling the hole with more wax or reheating the surface until the hole closes. Allowing for any bubbles in the cooling wax to escape before pouring may help, as well.
Do What Smells Right: Troubleshooting Fragrance
Now comes my favorite and possibly the most important part of candle making: the scent! Since we all want a pleasant-smelling candle that can brighten the whole room. We want to make sure that we are choosing the appropriate fragrance for the type of candle that we are making. Choosing a scent that is made for candles is essential to getting a perfect cold and hot throw. Since using other scents that are not formulated for this purpose can cause your candle to smell like chemicals or just downright nasty when lit.
In addition to that; you will want to make sure that you add the right amount of fragrance to your wax. Depending on the scent that you choose. Some smells like vanilla or lavender can give off quite a strong scent when lit. So it is best to start off with a smaller percentage of fragrance. I would start by using a six percent measurement of fragrance to see how the finished product turns out. You may increase the amount by a percent or two if you are not getting the desired throw. But just remember that adding too much fragrance to your wax can cause your candle to give off less scent just as much as adding too little can; the fragrance will not absorb fully if the wax becomes over saturated.
Another issue that can happen while mixing your wax is that the fragrance may not integrate fully with the wax. Causing it to settle at the bottom of the candleholder and create some discoloration. The best way to ensure that you get a nice, consistent-looking candle is to mix in the fragrance thoroughly while the wax is still hot enough, at around 185℉. You can also avoid making a scentless candle and wasting fragrance this way! A telltale sign that you have added too much fragrance is if your candles sweat when lit (literally). The wax can only hold so much, so it is sometimes counterintuitive to add more fragrance in hopes of more scent payoff.
As you can see, there are many ways to make sure that your soy candles come out looking professional, but it is nearly impossible to get a perfect candle every time. Soy is susceptible to visual imperfections such as rough surfaces, air pockets on the sides and frosting over the top.
Believe me when I say that even big candle producers are not immune to these issues. Soy candles are not always flawless in appearance, but they most certainly deliver when it comes to a great burn! Don’t fret if you try all of these things and your candles do not come out smooth and consistent every time. They are still unique and perfect in their own way and that is part of what we all love about them.
What qualities should I look for when buying soy wax?
You will want to check the fragrance load depending on what percentage you are planning on adding to the wax. The melting point and the amount of fragrance already added to the wax is also a factor.
Which wicks will provide the best burn and which ones burn the longest?
The size that you choose can vary based on the size of the container, hemp is a wonderful, long-lasting option for soy candles.
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Meet Shawn Chun: Entrepreneur and Candle Business Fan.
I’m a happy individual who happens to be an entrepreneur. I have owned several types of businesses in my life from a coffee shop to an import and export business to an online review business plus a few more and now I create online candle business resources for those interested in starting new ventures. It’s demanding work but I love it. I do it for those passionate about their business and their goals. That’s why when I meet a candle business owner at a craft fair, farmers market, retail location or anywhere else I see myself. I know how hard the struggle is to obtain and retain clients, finding good employees all while trying to stay competitive. That’s why I created Candle Business Boss: I want to help candle business owners like you build a thriving business that brings you endless joy and supports your ideal lifestyle.