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6 Mistakes New Candle Makers Should Avoid | Candle Making

2022.11.24 17:17


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6 Mistakes New Candle Makers Should Avoid

Published by Kevin Fischer on March 24, 2021 March 24, 2021

If you’re new to candle making, it’s easy to get caught up in all the “lights and cameras” of potentially running a candle business.

After a few pours, you might realize how complicated candles really are , especially if you’re using soy wax or any other vegetable wax. We’ve gathered six common pitfalls new candle makers should avoid to have the best chance at succeeding.

Let’s dive in!

1. Putting the wrong amount of fragrance oil

How much fragrance oil should you use?

If you’ve never made candles before, remember this rule of thumb:

1 ounce per 1 pound of wax OR 28 grams per 454 grams of wax

An even easier way to figure out how much to use is multiply the wax WEIGHT (ounces or grams) by .0625.

Always measure fragrance oil and wax by WEIGHT (not volume). Read more about why we measure supplies by weight here.

If you’re more advanced, this results in a candle with roughly 6% fragrance load. Most commercial candle wax holds up to 10% or 12%, with some as low as 3%.

Also remember adding more fragrance oil doesn’t always increase the scent of the candle, and can even backfire and cause the candle to burn poorly.

Read more about calculating fragrance and wax amounts here.

2. Using the same wick size for every scent

The candle wick is usually the most difficult part of creating a candle that burns safely and smells great.

Unfortunately, finding the right wick size and series is a lot of work! Don’t fall into the trap of using “any old wick” for your candle just because it can be a lot of work.

Many candle communities don’t stress the importance of DISCOVERY in the design process. In fact, a lot of beginners are just looking for a “candle formula” that doesn’t require testing: plug and go.

Fragrance oil changes how a candle performs two different ways:

The “fragrance load”, or the raw amount of oil in the candle In the relationship with the wax

and every fragrance oil is different!

The right wick size for a candle can drastically change depending on which fragrance oil the candle contains and how much. Even if you build a successful candle with one wick, once you swap the fragrance or change the amount you may need a different wick series or size.

Too many candle makers overlook how sensitive a wick is to the fragrance and continue using the same wick for every design in that wax.

Read more about choosing the right wick type and size here.

3. Burning the candle before curing completes

One of the 20 skills every candle maker must master is patience.

Why?

Every candle needs to cure before being burned.

Candle curing is the process of the wax solidifying at a molecular layer to resist thermal energy and disperse fragrance molecules evenly throughout the hardened blend.

In more general terms, you need to wait to burn the candle to see how it really works.

Wax expands as a liquid and contracts as a solid. Most wax may appear to be completely solid a few hours after pouring, but actually isn’t completely hardened until a fairly long period of time after.

Longer cure times raise the amount of heat needed to melt the wax, which means your wick may appear “too hot” right after the candle cools and be “just right” once the initial curing completes.

Curing accomplishes two goals:

Substantially hardens the wax (so the thermal energy required to melt it is even throughout) Spreads fragrance oil more evenly through the candle

Candles burned too soon after they’re poured may smell good, but typically don’t respond accurately to the wick size and series to judge a successful test.

How long should you cure? Depends on the wax:

Wax Type Typical Cure Time Soy 14 days Paraffin 3 5 days Parasoy 7 10 days Palm 5 7 days Beeswax 10 days

Read more about candle curing here.

4. Using the wrong materials

The internet carries a surprising amount of “tutorials” for candles that include troublesome supplies.

Poor supply choice can lead to fire hazards and poor performance the opposite goal of a candle. What should you watch out for?

Crayons don’t work well for coloring or melting. Their properties are much better for coloring books than candles since they clog candle wicks (even wood ones). They may burn for a little bit, but will ultimately fade.

Food coloring , like crayons, won’t color your wax. Wax is an OIL based product, meaning the color needs to dissolve in OIL. Most food coloring is “water soluble”, meaning it can dissolve in water, but will not mix with oil.

Plastic containers will melt. Remember, candles are very hot and a lot of the heat transfers directly into the walls of the container.

Thin-walled glass jars may actually explode if they receive too much heat. Don’t use these if you’re just starting out. If the container isn’t thicker than a wine glass, it’s too thin to use for candle making.

Excessive leaves flammable material in candles are often shown as decorative. Cute, yes, but potentially dangerous in the hands of a beginner who may get carried away and put too much in the wrong places and cause ignition.

Glitter , sadly, will also clog your wick. You may use it in wax melt design more effectively, or sparingly on the edges of a candle, but if too much is present your wick will stop and your flame will extinguish.

Unsealed metal tins will actually leak when the wax melts. You’d be surprised how good wax is at finding escape routes!

Read more about items you shouldn’t put in candles here.

5. Starting with way too many supplies

Skip this if you’re making candles for fun, but read on if you want repeatable designs or wish to own a candle business.

The unlimited amount of combinations of wax, wicks, containers, colors, and fragrances means candle making is a great place to express your creativity.

But there’s a downside.

Beginners often get caught up in creation-mode and forget how complicated getting ONE candle design to work well is.

If you’re constantly changing your inputs and trying new things, it can be overwhelming to find something that works.

The best advice for starting out is to KISS.

KISS?

No, not “kiss”, the verb or the band, but K.I.S.S.: Keep It Simple Stupid (or Keep It Simple Silly , depending on your audience).

Simplifying your first approach to the craft helps you learn the critical skills of adjusting wick sizes, testing, and judging success. Adding too many variables, or changing things too often, limits your chance of succeeding before you understand how everything fits together.

Candle making is hard, and if you don’t believe that now, buckle up! Anyone can pour wax into a jar, add a wick, and call it a day, but mature candle makers know that’s only the first step.

After that, you need to make sure the candle meets the industry standards for safety and your own standards for performance, which leads to the final mistake

6. Burn testing

Testing candles is one of the most critical skills of the craft.

The reason is simple: you can’t possibly know if your design meets safety and performance standards until you burn the candle.

Burn it once?

No. Keep burning it until one of two things occurs:

The candle is completely used up, or It fails to meet your standard of SAFETY or PERFORMANCE

A lot of beginners burn their candle for 30 minutes, upload a picture of it to Facebook for feedback, and call their testing complete.

This is the worst way to test a candle (besides NOT burning it at all).

Testing requires you establish a cadence of burning it over a set period of time, multiple times. Even though a candle may appear fine during the first burn, candles are notorious for changing throughout their life.

And no, a full melt pool at a time specific to the container’s diameter is NOT a test for whether everything is working!

As the candle reaches the halfway point or even nears the bottom, heat transfers less to the air and more to the walls. Previously melted wax turns into a liquid quicker, and the overall temperature can rise significantly.

Your wick is responsible for delivering a standard of safety and performance throughout the candle’s life, not just near the top.

Read more about candle testing here.

Categories: Learn Candle Making Basics Tags: Basic Skills Fragrance Listicles Supplies Testing Wicks
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