Let’s Talk About Wax
A comprehensive look at the most popular waxes used in the candle industry
Wax is one of the most crucial elements of a candle. It is the fuel that feeds the flame and keeps the candle burning from start to finish. Without the wax, a wick would burn down to nothing in no time, and what’s the good in that?
Technically, just about any type of oil can be made into wax, but some oils are better choices than others in terms of the benefits they offer. There are a growing number of waxes being used to make candles across the world. Here we will look at some of the more popular types of candle wax and what they can be used for.
Soy has grown to be one of the most popular waxes used in candle making today. It is a natural, sustainable, and biodegradable wax. It is easy to use making it ideal for beginners to the candle making space.
In its most natural form, soy wax has a very low melting point and is very soft in comparison to other waxes like beeswax and some paraffin waxes. This makes soy ideal for candles that are made and burned within a container. It also makes it very easy to melt. Soy wax can even be melted in your microwave.
Soy offers a good scent throw despite being a rather dense wax. Unfortunately, the density of the wax will have an effect on the distance the scent is able to be thrown as well as the length of time the scent will linger in the air. This makes proper wicking so important. The best wicks to use in soy candles is wicks made from cotton or high tensile paper (HTP)
When pure soy goes through vast temperature changes, like when it is melted and then cools during the creation of a candle, crystals will form throughout the wax giving a similar appearance to frost on a window in the winter. The “frosting” will be even more evident when dye is added to the wax. While these crystals don’t have a negative impact on the way a candle burns, it obviously does impact the aesthetic of the candle.
Over the years, soy wax manufacturers have developed many different formulations to combat issues like frosting and bumpy tops that are common annoyances when using soy wax. There are some excellent soy wax blends on the market that greatly reduce the chances of these issues occurring. However, it is next to impossible to guarantee that the additives will completely stop the soy wax from doing what it naturally does.
Other soy wax blends have become available that are much harder allowing soy to be used for freestanding candles like pillars and votives as well. These all natural blends will have other botanical components that make them hard enough to hold their form when removed from a mould and when burned with the proper wick.
Due to demand and inflation, the price of soybean oil and therefore soy wax has increased considerably. However, soy remains very popular and an excellent option for beginners and advanced candle makers alike.
Coconut wax is an increasingly popular choice for candle making. Coconut wax is derived from cold-pressed coconut oil, which is considered a natural and renewable resource, making it great for eco-minded candle makers.
Coconut wax has a creamy white appearance that gives a luxurious, natural feel to candles. It also has a smooth texture that makes it easy to create a smooth surface. Coconut wax has a lower shrinkage rate, making it easy to work with when making container candles, which it is best suited for. It takes dye very well and provides beautiful vibrant colours.
The scent of coconut wax candles is often considered superior to other wax types, allowing for a more luxurious and aromatic experience with your candles. Due to how soft coconut wax is, it is common for manufacturers to blend it with other waxes like soy and paraffin which makes it easier to form into slabs and pellets.
Like soy wax, coconut wax can be rather expensive. However, it is a trendy wax to work with and the quality is well worth the price.
Paraffin wax is a popular choice for candle making due to its versatility and numerous advantages. It is a byproduct of crude oil refining and is widely available, making it an affordable option for many candle makers.
You can find a paraffin wax that will suit every type of candle from container to votive to pillar. It takes candle dye exceptionally well and produces stunning bright colours. Its scent throw is unrivalled by any other type of wax due to how much fragrance oil it is able to hold as well as how light it is. This makes it very easy for the scent to be thrown further and linger in the air longer than other types of wax.
Paraffin wax has a long shelf life and can be stored for an extended period of time without losing its quality. This makes it an ideal choice for those who want to buy wax in bulk and store it for future use.
Paraffin wax has been used by candle makers for over a century and as long as there is crude oil to refine, paraffin wax will continue to be available. This does make it less sustainable than other waxes. Paraffin wax is not renewable, so once the crude oil is gone so is the paraffin wax.
Beeswax is an excellent choice for candle making. It is a natural and sustainable resource that is produced by bees as part of their honey-making process. It is a renewable resource that can be harvested without harming the bees or their environment.
Beeswax is non-toxic and is the only type of wax that can actually clean the air. As beeswax candles are burned, they produce negative ions that bind with air pollutants (positive ions) and cause them to drop to the ground.
Beeswax is a very hard wax. This means that it requires more heat than other softer waxes in order to melt it. It also means that it will expand more than others when it melts and therefore shrinks and contracts quite a bit as it cools. This is why beeswax is better suited for moulded candles than for container candles, as it will definitely shrink away from the sides when poured into a vessel.
Natural beeswax is a golden yellow colour and has a delicious honey scent, which is beautiful but can affect or limit your possibilities when adding fragrance and/or dye. White beeswax, which is filtered through active carbon to remove the colour, is also available.
Beeswax is another natural wax that falls on the expensive end of the spectrum. However, beeswax does have a strong following of people who love it enough that they are willing to pay the extra price for candles made with it.
Palm wax is a natural vegetable wax made from the oil of palm trees. It is a popular choice for candle making due to its numerous benefits and eco-friendly properties.
Palm trees are grown in many tropical regions of the world, making palm oil and palm wax a renewable resource. Palm trees are known for their high yield, which means that they can produce large amounts of oil without requiring a lot of land or resources.
Palm wax candles have a longer burn time than other types of candles. This is because palm wax is a very hard wax with a high melting point, which means that it takes longer to burn.
It also has a unique crystalline structure that gives it a beautiful, sparkling, feathered appearance. When used in moulded candles, it creates a natural frosted look that is aesthetically pleasing and adds to the ambiance of any room. You can also use palm wax in its granular form to make “sand candles”. The granules can be dyed using liquid candle dye and then strategically layered in a clear container to create stunning designs.
In conclusion, there are a variety of wax types available for candle making, each with its unique benefits and characteristics. Soy wax, coconut wax, paraffin wax, beeswax and palm wax are some of the most commonly used types of wax for candle making.
Soy wax and coconut wax are excellent choices for those seeking a sustainable and renewable option. Paraffin wax is widely used due to its affordability and versatility. Beeswax offers a natural and eco-friendly option, while palm wax offers a stunning crystalline finish.
Ultimately, the type of wax you choose for your candle making project will depend on your preferences, budget, and specific needs. Regardless of the wax you choose, with the right techniques and tools, you can create beautiful, long-lasting candles that fill your home with warmth and fragrance.