What are the usual techniques of candle making?
They are three: Dipping, moulding, filling
Dipping: Usually for church candles and tapers. Dip the wick multiple times in paraffin. The wax builds up one layer at a time until it reaches the required thickness.
- Tie the wicks on a support for 6 or 16 wicks.
- Dip the support up to the top in paraffin 56-58 and then lift it. By dipping several times the layer of paraffin gets thicker. Repeat the process until the required thickness is achieved.
- Cut the edges with scissors and hang the candles on a support until they harden.
- Melt a little paraffin at the bottom of the candle with a hot surface for a smooth finish.
- Colour the surface by dipping into coloured paraffin
Most suitable paraffin wax types Sasolwax 4115, 5803.
- Mould preparation: Pull the wick through the hole at the bottom of the mould, plug the hole with a rubber plug or paste. Tie the wick to a support at the open top of the mould.
- Melt the wax: You will need one kilo of paraffin for a medium sized candle. Cut the wax slab into small pieces and put them into the tub. This tub is placed into a bigger tub containing hot water. The water is heated on a stove top and the paraffin is heated indirectly. It is not advised to heat the paraffin directly; there is a risk of overheating.
- Add colour and fragrance when the temperature is 80C, stir to dissolve.
- Moulding: Take care to maintain the correct temperature according to the type of mould you are using. High or low temperature may cause defects. Pour the molten wax around the wick. Keep part of the wax for a second pour later. tap the mould to release air bubbles
- Fill the gap: Let the candle harden for one hour. Using a sharp instrument poke the surface around the wick. As the wax hardens a gap is formed in the centre as the wax shrinks. Before the wax has completely hardened fill the gap with the retained wax to a level just below the surface.
- Remove the candle from the mould. Let it harden completely and when cold remove the wick plug and gently pull it from the wick. The bottom of the mould is now the top. Cut the wick 2cm above the surface. To level the bottom place the candle on a flat hot plate.
- Use waxed wick with sustainer. Place it in the container so that the base touches the centre and with a support, pencil or other hold the top into central position.
- Heat the container gently.
- Melt the wax adding colour and fragrance and pour at 70C around the wick. Keep part of the wax for topping up later
- Allow to harden, in the centre a gap is formed.
- Fill the gap with the retained wax, let it cool and harden.
- Release the wick and cut it to 1cm above the surface.
What is Gel wax?
It is a mixture of liquid paraffin and a polymer. The paraffin is pharmaceutical grade same as used in cosmetics.
How is a gel candle made?
The procedure is easy, melt the gel and pour it into containers like glasses, jars, vases etc preferably 6cm diameter, 6cm height. Use a wick with a sustainer stick the base in the middle of the container and support the top at the open end. Pour the molten gel and allow to cool. Add decorative items like pebbles, beads, shells.
What cause the gel to become hazy?
This could be caused by traces of paraffin, water or incompatible fragrances or colours. Even 1% contamination could cause haziness.
The gel forms bubbles
This problem is cause by trapped air. Make sure the moulds are heated gently and the wax cooled slowly.
What is paraffin wax?
Paraffin is a product of petroleum. There is hard, soft and liquid paraffin wax. By a refining process paraffin grades are produced completely harmless and suitable for pharmaceutical use.
What is stearine?
A product of vegetable origin (palm oil).It is odourless and white.
It is used as an additive to paraffin, up to 10% will improve the appearance of the candle by increasing opacity and hardness.
What is beeswax?
It is a natural product burned with a pleasant smell of honey. It usually contains natural substances that affect the combustion by clogging the wick. In that case round wicks are used that assist the burning.
100% beeswax must not contain anything else. Sometimes however the fragrance is lost with time and repeated heating. To enhance the smell add honey fragrance up to 0,5%.
What moulds should I use?
Depending on the application there are the following options:
- Metal moulds:
- Silicone (flexible)
What are their special features?
Temperature and ware resistant, seamless. The candles have professional look, smooth surface. Economical, Not suitable for beeswax.
Not suitable for temperatures above 120C, durable, seamless, transparent, suitable for all waxes. Moulding temperature up to 90C. Difficult to clean. Some fragrances can affect the mould and must be avoided. Steel moulds are low cost, durable and temperature resistant. They need care with the moulding temperature, if the wax is too hot it could stick to the mould, unsuitable for bees wax.
They are flexible; they do not stick to the wax, usually used for sculpted candles (flowers, animal forms). You can fabricate them using a template and silicone hardening rubber. Suitable for bees wax.
These are plastic (PVC) low cost in two parts, they do not last long, suitable for amateur use
The wax shrinks at the centre of the mould:
This is normal, and is caused by the natural shrinking/expansion cause by temperature differences. If the cooling is too fast a gap will form inside the candle. To avoid this poke a hole at the surface and fill the visible gap around the wick with wax.
Is the candle burning correctly?
The wick does not bend prematurely
The candle does not smoke
The molten wax does not spill
The wick is not drowned
The wax melts up to the edge
Why is the candle smoking?
Make sure that the wick is clean and short and has the correct size
Candles made from the following materials usually burn correctly:
Candles made of paraffin wax
Candles made of paraffin and up to 20% stearin.
Gel candles up to 6cm diameter
Of course it is important to use the correct size wick!!
What if the candles are not burning properly?
If the wick is not waxed it will not burn. Remember to dip the free section into molten paraffin. Contaminated wax with insoluble materials does not burn well because the wick is clogged; this is a usual problem with candles from recycled candles.
How important is the moulding temperature?
Very important, it depends on the wax, the mould and the type of surface required. If the wax is too hot it will stick to the mould, if too cold it will form a rough surface (rustic look). We recommend as moulding temperature 85C.To avoid overheating use indirect heating with a water bath.
How to avoid bubbles at the surface of the candle?
They appear if the mould is too cold and is trapping air on the surface. To avoid them lightly stir the molten wax in the mould to dislodge the bubbles.
What can we do if the fragrances are partly insoluble in the wax?
Some fragrances are not easily soluble in wax. To avoid such problems allow the fragrance to settle in the pot, the insoluble part can then be removed from the bottom. Do not exceedthe suggested dosage rate.
Removal from mould
Usually paraffin candles with up to 20% stearin are easily removed from the mould. if they stick put them in the refrigerator for one hour. Use the anti-stick silicone spray.
What are the advantages of soy candles?
The burning of soy wax lasts 30-50% longer
Soy wax is easily cleaned using soap easier than paraffin.
Soy wax is 100% vegetable origin and biodegradable
The burning is neutral for carbon emission.
No soot is emitted avoiding staining of walls and furniture
No toxic emissions
It holds fragrance better (up to 5%)
Melts in a microwave oven
It is produced from renewable sources.
How do we make soy wax candles?
There are two types of soy wax, hard for pillar candles and soft for containers.
Hard soy wax is brittle and breaks easily. It needs careful handling. Its colour is off-white. Use 80C temperature and aluminium, steel, polycarbonate moulds.
The soft wax is white, sticks to the container walls. You can easily poke a hole in the wax and insert a wick. Pouring temperature is 45-50C, just before solidification. Before pouring add colour and fragrance.