Introduction: Introduction to Candle Basics
This is my first 'ible so here we go!
A primer on candle waxes.
Paraffin -- Paraffin wax is a white or colorless soft solid derivable from petroleum, coal or oil shale. Paraffin wax is mostly found as a white, odorless, tasteless, waxy solid, with a typical melting point between about 46 and 68 °C (115 and 154 °F). It is insoluble in water, but soluble in ether, benzene, and certain esters. Paraffin is unaffected by most common chemical reagents but burns readily. Paraffin wax is an excellent material for storing heat. Paraffin has many industrial uses and is considered to be an unfriendly wax in candle making as it is a by product of petroleum making and a non renewable resource.
Soy Wax -- Soy wax is a hydrogenated form of soybean oil, It is typically softer than paraffin wax and with a lower melting temperature. After harvesting, the beans are cleaned, cracked, de-hulled, and rolled into flakes. The oil is then extracted from the flakes and hydrogenated. Soy's greatest advantage is that it is completely renewable. While the global reserves of oil shrink and paraffin prices increase, the only limit to the soy supply is how much we choose to grow. In addition to sustainability, a well-made soy candle will burn cleanly and slowly.
Bees Wax -- Beeswax is a natural wax produced in the bee hive of honey bees. Pretty much any type of candle can be made with bees wax, from votives, pillars, containers and molded creations. It's a heavy, sticky wax, so it seems to work best in molds that are either small or flexible, like silicone molds, or in two part molds that easily come apart. Bees wax usually comes in three forms sheets, pellets and blocks.
Palm Wax -- Although palm wax is considered a renewable resource it seems to be a much debated issue. Elaeis guineensis also called African oil palm is different from carnauba wax although the plants are the same family their a different species. For a better explanation please see these links.
African Oil Palm
These are the four main types of wax used in candle making.
Step 1: Customary Warning
Failure to follow instructions can result in burn, fire injury and/ or property damage! Keep wick trimmed to 1/4". Discontinue use when 1/2" of wax is remaining. Avoid Drafts. Keep away from children, pets and flammable objects. Burn on a fireproof holder and for no more than three hours at a time. Never leave a burning candle unattended.
The use of a heat source is required in this Instructable. Please use common sense and caution to avoid injury!
With that out of the way let's begin!
Step 2: Gather Your Supplies
Containers - something to put the finished candle into.
Wicks - there are several types of wicks generally the company you get your wax from will have recommendations for which wicks work best.
Fragrance Oils or Essential Oils - Typically there are two types of Fragrance Oils. Skin safe (soaps, lotions ect.) and Candles only. If the scent your looking for states candles only it means that it shouldn't be used in applications for skin care products because it can be an irritant. Some fragrance oils are marked good for both skin care products and candles these you can use for either type of project.
An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. The potential danger of an essential oil is generally relative to its level or grade of purity. Many essential oils are designed exclusively for their aroma-therapeutic quality; these essential oils generally should not be applied directly to the skin in their undiluted or "neat" form.
Some can cause severe irritation, provoke an allergic reaction and, over time, prove hepatotoxic. Non-therapeutic grade essential oils are never recommended for topical or internal use.
It's recommended that when using essential oils they be diluted and used sparingly. I personally don't recommend using them unless you have prior knowledge of how to use them (their interactions and possible effects). If you choose to use them do so with caution.
Wax of your choice (for the purpose of this instructable I'll be using Soy wax)
Pot for boiling water that you don't mind losing.
Kitchen Scale with the ability to weigh pounds and ounces and a tare feature.
Container(s) to melt wax in; it can be anything from a clean used aluminum can, or glass jar to a typical pour pot sold by a vending company.
Stir stick - I use a metal spatula for cakes (remember that the wax will be hot enough to warp plastic and that plastic will hold the scent of what ever fragrance your using. I learned this the hard way.)
Wick center - it's optional but useful in keeping your wick centered while the wax cures.
Dye - comes in liquid or block form. I haven't tried crayons so I can't tell you how that will work out. A note on dyes the more you use the darker the color. It is best to test how much you need by melting a small sample and adding your choice of color and letting set up to see the vibrancy.
Hairdryer or Heat gun - Sometimes your candles end up with imperfections. It happens. Just turn it on low with high heat and hold it over the candle until things smooth out. Then let it set up again.
Candle additive - because soy wax is so soft there is an additive I use to help give it more structure (helps firm it up a bit) this is purely optional. (the additive I use is from The Candle Makers Store)
Candy Thermometer - any brand will do as long as you can read it.
Metal Measuring Spoons - Are your best friend. The oils will eat plastic. Never use your candle equipment for regular cooking. Have a dedicated set of measuring spoons, pot ect for this project.
Time and patience! You can speed up the process for getting candles to set up by sticking them in the freezer for a few minutes (10 to 15) make sure if you do this to check on them periodically because they tend to end up with fissures and cracks if left in to long. If I have enough time I like to let them cool down on a spare counter you get a better quality of candle if you do.
Step 3: Weighing the Wax
This is a fairly straight forward step.
Turn on your scale and allow it to zero (first picture).
Place your pour pot (or other melting container) on the scale and let it get the weight for your pot/can/jar.(picture 2)
Use the tare feature and zero the scale again this eliminates the weight of the object allowing for the weighing of your wax. (picture 3)
Add the desired weight of wax to your container (as you can see in picture 4 I weighed out 1lb of wax.)
Step 4: Melting Your Wax
Turn on your hot plate or stove element to medium (5 on the dial).
What your looking for is a slow steady progression of the wax melting, you will notice little air bubbles rising to the top this is completely normal. As the level of flaked wax drops down, using your stir stick give it a swirl it will help break up clumps of wax and allow it to melt quicker. Once your pot/can/jar looks similar to picture 8 your going to want to take the temperature of your wax.
The Temperature should read somewhere between 125 and 155. The manufacturer recommends anything between 100 and 155 degrees so you have a lot of play room.
Step 5: Additives, Dyes and Fragrance / Essential Oils
At this point, your thermometer should read between 125 and 155 degrees Fahrenheit. I usually work with it between 130 and 145.
This is where you add in your additives, dyes and essential oils in this order.
For your additives your manufacturer will tell you how much your candles by weight you should need. For the product I use I require 1/2 tsp.
Add the additive to your wax and stir until dissolved and no longer visible this may take a few minutes.
Dyes - add a few drops of liquid dye at a time and stir well to combine. For pigment chips or dye blocks shave off a small amount and add to wax stir to combine. If you feel that your initial addition isn't sufficient in it's hue add a little more until the desired color is achieved. Remember you can always add more color but you can't take it out.
Fragrance and Essential Oils - Add your pre-measured oils to your wax. Remember to double check what percentage they recommend. Stir to combine until the wax and oils are homogeneous.
Step 6: Wicking Up the Wax
Slide your wick up through the center and set off to the side. Turn your scale let it zero out and place your container on the scale allow it to weigh the container; use the tare function again to zero it out. Pour wax into container (mine holds 4 oz of wax). Here's the tricky part! Carefully remove your container from your scale it will be very hot!.
Place your wick center if you are using one like shown in picture 4 and allow to cool. You can place your finished candle (if you can handle the heat) into your freezer to help it set up quicker. On average for me it takes about 30 minutes +/- for them to solidify on the counter. That time may vary for person to person place to place.
Step 7: Photos to Show You the Difference Between the Setting Up in the Freezer and on the Counter.
Photo One: Right after initial pour
Photo Two: Right at about 20 minutes +/- a few.
Photo Three: Candles coming out of freezer after 15 minutes
Photo Four: They are for the majority set up the container feels cool to the touch not frozen or chilled.
All you need to do now is cap them and throw on a nice looking label with the fragrance you used and hand them out or keep them for a rainy day!