Shortly after hearing that almost everything in Pennsylvania would close for two weeks because of the new COVID-19 virus, I decided to find myself a new hobby.
I had a few friends who immersed themselves in the world of candle making and I thought it would be fun to try. After all, it was the perfect gift for people in that unprecedented and unpredictable time. So I bought candles and started creating.
Thus was born Love + Kindness. I was never going to make it a business and I didn’t expect people to be so enjoying my candles. But two years later, and along the way much more skills and personal connections were established, I nurtured a small business that also became a hobby to entertain.
So, using the knowledge I have accumulated over these two years, here is a tutorial for those who love candles and want them to last longer, those who want to know more about what they burn, and those who want to start producing candles for fun.
(For those interested in starting a candle business, start with a guide from reputable sources, including Standley Handcrafted and Memory Box Candle Co. on YouTube.)
There are several types of candles to choose from when shopping, and each wax works differently. Here is a short list of some common types of candles that you will find.
Paraffin is a by-product of oil. It is colorless and odorless, but is known as one of the best waxes for making candles with a strong “hot throw”. (A hot throw is how fragrant your candle is in a given space. A good candle means your candle is strong and fragrant). There is controversy over whether paraffin releases more soot into an area that creates an uncomfortable sensation when breathing. There are not many studies that suggest that paraffin is better or worse for health than other waxes; it all depends on how your candle is made and how it burns. Paraffin is non-toxic and burns clean, which means it releases very little into the air.
Soy wax is mostly made up of soybean oil, non-toxic and clean burning. It is not as strong as paraffin, which means that on average soy candles will smell a little weaker. Soy candles are often sold as purer alternatives to other types of candle wax, but there is not much research to support this.
Beeswax is a harder wax that is naturally produced by bees. It has a natural sweet scent but holds its scent poorly if it does not mix with other types of wax. For example, these candles create an atmosphere better than making your home smell like a tropical oasis.
Coconut wax is a creamy, soft, slow-burning wax known for its good hot cast. This is one of the new types of natural waxes that are appearing on the market.
Sources: Lone Star Candle Supply, Armatage Candle Company, Beeswax Co., Candlescience
What you can and cannot do candles
– Get a starter kit from a reputable candle distribution company such as Wooden Wick, CandleScience or Flaming Candle Company. Their kits offer everything you need to make scented and safe candles without the extra dent in your bank account.
– Stay by your candles when they are burning. Leaving a candle unattended or near children or pets unattended is a fire hazard.
– Leave the candle for a few days before burning it. This will allow the oil to bond better with the wax and give you a stronger scent.
– Melt other candles over the stove and make a big Franken candle. It may smell good, but the results can be unpredictable. A safer alternative would be to purchase a candle heater that melts your candle from below and turns it essentially into a large melt of wax.
– Use random jars or other vessels to try to create a working candle. There are hundreds of wick sizes to choose from, and the performance of each depends on how big your jar is, what type of wax you use and whether there are any types of additives in your candle mix. Even if you make candles for the holiday rather than for sale, you don’t want your wick to be wrong. Some vessels are beautiful for candles, but it would be wiser not to burn what you can’t check for safety.
– Use pencils in your candles when you make them at home. Chalks are made of paraffin, but they are unsuitable for burning. At best you will have clumps of chalk not included in your candle piece. At worst, it is a great fire hazard. Instead, to get color in your candles, buy a candle-safe dye from a candle distributor, or a dye labeled specifically for candles.
– Light candles near drafts and do not light them on a bookshelf or somewhere where something may catch fire above them.
Ways to make your candles last longer
– Before lighting a candle, make sure the wick is trimmed to 1/4 inch. If the wick is too long, if you start to set it on fire, you will have a large and difficult to control flame. A well-made candle will still have a small but powerful flame with a short wick.
– Candles have a memory, which means that the candle will remember where you burned it, and will not burn after that. If you have a ring of annoying wax that just doesn’t melt around your wick, chances are you haven’t burned it long enough in the first few burns. It is best to let it burn until it reaches a full pool of melt (you can see the melted wax from all sides), depending on the container in which it is located. . If you notice that your candle is burning too fast, you may need to trim the wick.
– Do not wrap the candle with aluminum and do not put it in a candlestick that completely covers the candle. It will get too hot and melt much faster. Some people wrap their candles in foil when the wax goes in a tunnel or leaves a wax ring along the outside of the melt pool. This is a potential way to fix tunnels, but make sure that when you do this, you watch the candle to make sure the jar doesn’t overheat.