Candle Wax Discoloration: Candle Wax Turning Yellow Or Brown

candle wax turning yellow

Have you ever had a white candle turn to an odd shade of yellow or brown after using it? This issue is not as common as some other types of candle wax problems such as wet spots or frosting, however, it is something you will see from time to time.

Why is my candle wax turning yellow? Candle wax can yellow when it is exposed to sunlight or when overheated during the candle making process, such as placing it on direct heat when melting the candle wax. In addition, it can yellow if it contains high vanillin content or citrus scents.

In addition to vanillin and citrus, some other fragrance oils can cause this issue. Including fragrance oils that have floral scents. However, these issues usually come down to load percentage, the temperature the fragrance oil was added as well as the mixing procedure.

Candle Wax Discoloration

Discoloration Causes

As stated above, there are a few different reasons your candle wax may have become discolored.

What Causes Candle Wax Discoloration?

Exposure to sunlight
Fragrance oil

Let’s take a closer look at some of these problems.

Exposure to sunlight

Sunlight contains ultraviolet rays. When you expose your uncolored candle to it, the candle’s color will change to a yellow shade. Similarly, Colored or dyed fades eventually. It is because the fragrances contained in your candle aggressively react to exposure to sunlight.

If the scent has a high content of vanillin and citrus, the candle wax turning yellow usually happens in twenty-four hours.

They also react differently. Some turn pale yellow while others turn bright yellow. It happens in most cases on the side exposed to the Ultra Violet lighting.


How do you place your candle? Another reason for your wax turning yellow is if you place it on direct heat. It causes it to become too hot when melting. Overheating your wax makes it undergo oxidation. This affects its color and smell.

Fragrance oil

Additionally, the fragrance oil itself can end up discoloring the candle wax.

Contamination by stray metals

During the candle-making process, materials like stirrers, candle tabs, and candlewick can become exposed to contamination by stray metals. These include the rust on iron. Such exposure can be the reason why your candle wax is turning yellow.

Similarly, the contamination can happen even after the candle is ready. Rust can fall on the top surface, causing the candle to turn yellow around that surface.

Candle Bottom Turning Yellow

Have you noticed a yellow color at the bottom of your wax? This is likely a different issue than the one stated above. Why is the bottom of my candle turning yellow?

The bottom of a candle can begin turning yellow when the fragrance oil does not bond with the candle wax or the wax has a high oil content, allowing it to settle in the bottom of the container. When this happens it will clump together in the bottom of the container and appear semi-solid and discolored.

As said above, this is most likely a mixing issue. Underheating the wax may cause the fragrances not to dissolve properly. Therefore, some of the fragrances settle at the bottom of the pouring pitcher or candle. It also causes an inconsistent scent.

Candle Top Turning Brown

Like the discoloration mentioned above, candles can also start turning brown over time. However, when candle tops turn brown it can often be caused by a few different things. Why is my candle top turning brown?

Candle tops can begin turning brown because of the type of wick used in the candle. For example, wooden wicks can make the surface of a candle appear dirty or brown as they burn. In addition, wick size and the size of the melt pool can also impact the color.

The size of the melt pool may lead to browning at the top of your candle. If it has a small malt pool and a short wick, it will most likely turn yellow or brown depending on the fragrance oil

 The candle discoloration may leave a considerable loss on you. To avoid wastage, looking for ways to fix them is the only sound solution. But how do you fix discolored candles?

Preventing Discoloration

Candle wax turning yellow or brown isn’t an ideal occurrence. There are varying methods that you can use to prevent this discoloration.

How To Prevent Candle Wax Discoloration

  • Use an ultraviolet inhibitor.
  • Using ivory dye.
  • Minimize the use of fragrances containing vanillin.
  • Avoiding catalytic oxidants.
  • Avoid overheating.
  • Use a different method.

Use an ultraviolet inhibitor

Since sunlight causes the candle wax to fade, using an ultraviolet inhibitor is the best-suited method. The inhibitor acts like sunscreen for the candle. It prevents yellowing by blocking the Ultraviolet light from reaching the candle.

Using ivory dye

Is your candle wax turning yellow due to the presence of vanillin in the fragrance oil? Using a small amount of ivory dye counteracts the yellow tint. Therefore, it gives your candle wax a more natural and uniform color.

Minimizing the use of fragrances containing vanillin

Using an ultraviolet inhibitor and ivory dyes may not always work to your liking. Or you may not like having them all together as they may be an additional expense. Since vanillin causes a yellow discoloration in candle wax, minimizing the use of fragrance oils containing it can help.

Avoiding catalytic oxidants

As seen above, oxidation is a prime factor for your candle wax turning yellow. Therefore, you should avoid using items like brass, copper, and their respective alloys where you have stored your wax

Avoid overheating

You should never directly heat soy wax or in a microwave. It changes the chemical makeup resulting in your candle turning yellow. In addition, overheating the soy wax results in bubbling, wet spots, frosting, poor scent throw, and thick tops on your candle.

Therefore, you should always select a piece of heating equipment that will allow even heat distribution with tight temperature controls.

Using methods that allow the fragrance oil to bind with the wax fully

When the fragrance oils do not fully bond with the wax, they settle at the bottom, causing the candle wax to turn yellow. A proper mixing procedure should be applied. Stirring gently for over two minutes ensures that the fragrance oil has had enough time to bind with the wax completely.

To ensure that the fragrance is fully incorporated, stir the mixture continuously. It ensures that there is an even distribution of the fragrance oil. The second practice is mixing your fragrance oil at 1850F.

These high temperatures create an ideal solution allowing the oil to incorporate with your wax fully. Checking your fragrance load can also help as a big load may settle at the bottom.

Candle Wax Discoloration Related Questions

Why did my candle wax turn brown?

Candle wax can turn brown because of fragrance oils that contain vanillin. In addition, some oils are not completely clear and will change the color of your candle wax as soon as you mix them in. Furthermore, the process of the fragrance oil being heated and burned can change the color as well.

Why did my candle change color?

Multiple factors can contribute to a candle changing color. These factors include the type of wax, the fragrance oil used, the age of the candle, the process used to make the candle, and the burning practices. In addition, some wicks such as wood wicks will change the color of a candle.

Why does my candle wax turn black?

Candle wax turns black when the carbon build-up on the wick is dispersed into the candle wax melt pool. When black smoke and carbon buildup are produced by a candle it can gather on the surface of the candle and mix in with the wax, giving the candle wax a black appearance.

How do you get black bits out of candle wax?

Get black bits out of candle wax by gently scraping the surface of the candle when the wax is completely dry, or by picking them out of molten wax with a wick dipper. In addition, you can keep black bits out of your candle wax by keeping your candle wick properly trimmed.


In conclusion, wax can become discolored or turn yellow or brown in a variety of ways. Some of these ways are beyond your control. However, you still have a lot of options when it comes to preventing and fixing some of these issues.

The most important thing for preventing these problems is making sure you use manufacturer-suggested burning practices and make sure you carefully choose the fragrance oil you put in your candles.

In addition, you have to realize sometimes things just go wrong. Candles get old, chemical reactions happen and some of it is just beyond your control. Just try to enjoy your candles regardless of any issues you experience.

Also, be sure to check out our article that guides you through measuring exactly how much wax you need to make candles. The article is titled How much wax do I need.

Carl Adamson

Hi, I'm Carl Adamson, one of the founders here at Candleers. A few years ago I got really into the art and craft of candle making, initially with soy wax container candles. My friends started asking me to make candles for them and pretty soon it turned into a nice side-business. I started this website as a way to document what I've learned over the past few years and hopefully help others in the process. I still love candle making but I'm learning that what I enjoy even more is the business side of things - and for this reason I've started consulting others on how to start and grow their own candle-making businesses and side-hustles.

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