Making Soy Candles for Sale or Pleasure
Soy candles are the new "green" way to enjoy candles and tarts. Are you making container candles? If so, make sure your jars don't "neck down" too greatly. This means the opening in the container should not be considerably smaller than the body of the container. This is especially a concern when using a more decorative container rather than a standard "jar" container. One of the best we have found is the Kerr 8 oz. "jelly jar" style. This container does not reduce in size at the opening, allowing an even, clean burn. This type of container is also available in the 4 oz. and 16 oz. size for greater variety.
If the hole in top is too small, the candle will not "breathe" properly and snuff itself out, so choice in the shape of the container might not create a problem, but the neck of the container and the size of the hole in respect to the diameter of the container could. Soy candles burn more slowly, since there is no petroleum products in them, and need more oxygen for a clean flame. Also, stay away from tall, slender containers as the lower the wax level the faster the oxygen will be consumed, so eventually the candle will snuff out.
There are many choices in types of wax to use, even among "soy" waxes. There are several blends available where the wax contains a certain amount of non-soy material blended with the soy wax. This is done for several reasons, from lowering cost, to allowing different types of burn. The substances used include, but are not limited to, paraffin and beeswax. Paraffin is a cheap method for stabilizing the wax for burning in containers with narrower necks than a full-soy wax and decreasing the chances of the wax becoming soft and shifting during shipping. Remember, though, that any paraffin in the wax replaces the toxic petroleum fume that we're trying to remove and puts you right back to the "unhealthy" candle state. Our choice at "Mair's Place" is a full soy wax, as there are several choices of temperature ranges to define "melting point" that allow us to choose a wax that burns clean and ships well.
We heat our wax in glass mixing bowls with a pouring spout. This also allows you to measure your wax more accurately as the bowl is marked in graduations. Since we pour for production, we use the 2 quart bowels, giving us 64 oz. per pour, or the equivalent of 8 candles per batch. It is easy with experience to have several batches "working" at the same time in different stages of readiness. For the "hobby" candle maker, there are several smaller sizes to choose from to make a smaller batch of candles. Remember, all of the wax in a batch will make the same candle. You may not want 8 of the same candle if your intention is to make 1 for a friend. Also, if you increase the size of the container, there will be less candles.
First, melt your wax in the bowl. We use microwaves since we use the Pyrex bowls. Heat the wax to approximately 50 degrees over you wax's melting point. The melting point is the temperature at which the wax begins to turn from a solid to a liquid state. Information as to the melting point and suggested pour temperatures should be in the information your supplier lists on the catalogue page for the wax you use. If the suggested pouring temperature is hotter that the "flash-point" for the scent you are using, the pouring temperature can be decreased to one below the flash-point as long as it is still at least 20-25 degrees above the melting point of the wax. Stir in any additives needed for your use, such as UV stabilizers. We do many outside shows, so this is a "must" for our candles. A UV stabilizer keeps the sun from bleaching the color out of the candle. Next is the dye, especially if you use the dye cubes. Solid dyes need to be stirred in when the wax is at its hottest so the color will mix evenly. It is best to pour out a small volume of wax into another container and pre-mix solid dyes to insure a complete melt. We recommend liquid dyes, as they mix more evenly and with less chance of lumps hiding in the wax with darker colors than cannot be seen through.
Test your wax until you get the color you desire. Remember, wax is like paint. It changes color as is cools, so lift a little of the wax out on a wooden stick (a hobby stick like a Popsicle stick will work well for this step) and place it on a light color surface and allow it to cure until hard. This will only take a few moments and is necessary to define the actual finished color of the candle. Plastic lids from sour cream or butter containers are great for this purpose. The only time the dye would not be added at this point is if one wanted a "color swirl" effect, but that is for another article. We will keep this simple for now.
The next step is the scent. We use scent oils for a better "scent throw," All scents have a recommended scent mix per pound/ounce of wax. Depending on how pungent you want your candles to be, the closer to full saturation you should add the scent oil. Don't make the mistake of adding too much. If you add more that the highest recommended percentage, the scent will just pool around the wax after it cools. We recommend adding the scent just before your wax reaches pouring temperature. Use the suggested pouring temperature found in the supplier information when first starting out. later, as you become more proficient, you will learn to adjust the temperature to one that works best for you. For example, one wax we use has a melting point of 111 degrees. We pour at 125-130 degrees.
I am assuming you already know how to place your wicks. For those that do not, pre-tabbed wicks (wicks already having a metal tab installed) are the easiest to use. A dot of glue from a hot glue gun on the bottom of the tab and place in the middle of the jar. A couple of Popsicle sticks are great for pushing down to seat the tab and have another use as well. Rather than the hobbyist purchasing the expensive wicking tools, a hole can be drilled through the center of the sticks and the wick run through the hole. then the stick can set on top of the jar to center the wick for the pour. If the hole is drilled where the wick is firmly held, it allows for the straightening of the wick and even correcting the position if the wick gets bumped a bit.
Be sure and match your wick to the wax and container. The bigger the container, the hotter the wick, sometimes even requiring multiple wicks. We have used as many as three wicks in some containers. Your supplier can help you with the selection of your wick. When pouring the pure soy candle, we use a cotton wick with no wire, keeping the candle zinc-free and eco-friendly. Wicks come with a wax coating pre-applied, so this is a simple wick to use. Just remember, the higher the number associated with the wick, the hotter it burns and the greater diameter circle melted.
Now for the pour. Some instructions suggest warming the containers for better adhesion to the sides of the container. With the wax we use, we have not found that necessary. Trial and error will tell you if you need that step. Now, slowly pour the wax into the container. If the container "necks-down", then pour only to the widest point of the jar. If not, pour to approximately 1/2-3/4 inch from the top of the jar. If using a container with a screw on lid, just to the bottom of the lip before the threads is a good point. Let then harden for a minimum of 4-6 hours; overnight for best results. Trim the wick even with the container, or 1/2 inch above the wax in the case of a jar with a neck. If you are selling your candles, apply your labels. Be sure and use a warning label, affixed to the bottom of the container, associated with the type of candle you are making. The supplier should also have these. We print our own because of the bulk of candles we pour. Enjoy!