Soy wax, hailed from the oil of soybeans, holds a special place in the hearts of candle makers around the globe. In terms of popularity, sales of soy wax candles have taken off in recent years. Soy wax is now second to only paraffin as the primary wax used in candle-making, and its easily the preferred option among anyone producing more natural, renewable candles, as well as most boutique producers and home-based candle-makers.
Its unique characteristics, ranging from a clean burn to a slower burning time, distinguish it from other popular wax types used in making container candles. Today, we’ll embark on a journey to understand the intricacies of creating your own soy wax container candles.
Basics of Soy Wax
Soy wax offers an array of benefits that make it a favorite among candle makers. Its lower melting point results in longer burning time and a healthier, more eco-friendly burn, compared to other types of wax. But what sets soy wax truly apart are its environmental and sustainability aspects. It’s not just another wax; it’s a biodegradable, renewable choice that produces less soot, affirming our responsibility towards Mother Earth.
Detailed Characteristics of Soy Wax for Container Candles
When crafting a soy wax container candle, understanding its detailed characteristics can enhance the candle making process. Here’s a quick overview on some unique aspects of soy wax candles:
- Burn Time: An 8oz soy wax container candle typically boasts a burn time of 40 to 50 hours.
- Melting Point: The soy wax itself has a relatively low melting point, which ranges between 115 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Natural & Renewable: Soy wax is made from soybeans so its a natural, renewable product.
- Consistent Flame: The flame of a soy wax candle, burning brightly and consistently, enhances the ambiance without overwhelming the senses.
- Clean Burn: Soy wax candles burn fairly clean – more clean than paraffin (though not as clean as beeswax). This means minimal soot or smoke, and no nasty chemicals in the air.
- Great with Scents & Dyes: Soy wax has a nice “scent throw” and also is easy to dye, making it a practical option for candle-making.
- Makes Financial Sense: In terms of cost-effectiveness, buying soy wax in bulk can be quite economical, making it an excellent choice for homemade candle projects or for candles you are making to sell. Its also relatively easy to find and tends to have more consistent quality than other candle waxes like beeswax.
Basics of Container Candles
Container candles are candles that exist within a container, such as a glass jar or metal tin. This is in contrast to freestanding candles that are molded into a shape – typically a pillar or tapered cylinder. Container candles are significantly easier to make since they don’t require the use of a mold or repeated layering techniques (which can be messy!). The container itself is the mold.
Container candles are also often easier for consumers too, since the container prevents the wax from dripping. And they are generally safer, with less fire risk associated with non-container-based candles burning too low. Many also feel they make nicer gifts, since they don’t require a holder and are easy for the recipient to use multiple times.
To make container candles, you essentially just need to melt wax and pour it into a suitable container. For scent, fragrances are often added such as essential oils. For color, there are different types of dyes that can be used, both natural and artificial. But the general approach is relatively simple – find a container, affix a wick in the center, and pour hot wax into the container. Then let it cool. Now as for the specifics? Well, we’ll go into those in detail below!
Essential Supplies and Tools for Making Soy Wax Container Candles
Creating a perfect soy wax container candle requires specific supplies and tools. You will need containers suitable for the candles, bulk soy wax, scents, and dyes compatible with soy wax, and the right wicks. Additionally, you may wish to make labels and packaging materials for the final product. Lastly, you’ll need some equipment – namely a stove or hot plate, and a double boiler.
Creating Soy Wax Container Candles: A Step-By-Step Guide
Crafting a soy wax container candle is an art that comes with practice. It is part science, and part art. So please consider the below instructions as a (hopefully helpful) guide, from which you can build upon or adjust as you gain your own experience and refine your own personal preferences as a candle-maker.
- Gather your supplies:
Collect all necessary materials including soy wax, container, wick, dye, fragrance oil, double boiler, and other tools.
- Prepare the containers:
Clean the container and attach the wick at its center using a wick sticker or hot glue. For containers, aluminum tins and glass jars work great. Just make sure your container can handle hot liquids and is thick enough that it won’t dent or break easily. Its also helpful to use a wick holder to keep the wick standing straight up when you pour the wax in. You can buy actual wick holders fairly inexpensively, or make your own with some popsicle sticks. You just need something to hold the top of the wick upright and in the center of the container when you pour the wax. For bonus points, you can optionally heat your containers to about 120-130 degrees in your oven, which will help ensure the wax doesn’t stick to the sides and create “jump lines” as you pour the candles.
- Prepare the double boiler:
If you’ve not used a double boiler before, its basically just a method of using either two pots (one smaller than the other) or a metal bowl or pitcher inside of a larger pot that is heating up water. The idea is that you put a pot on a burner with water in it, and then put the second pot (or metal bowl) on top. The wax will go into the top container so that effectively the hot water from the first pot is what is heating it, not the direct heat from the burner itself.
- Melt the wax:
Using the double boiler method (described above), heat the soy wax until it reaches a temperature of about 185 degrees Fahrenheit. You can heat this on a stove (electric or gas) or a stand-alone hot plate. For your first few times, it is recommended to heat it fairly slowly. Stir frequently and gently. You’ll notice the wax start to melt far before your thermometer hits the 185 degree mark. Don’t stop heating it too early though. You’ll want a little time to work with it before it cools. As you gain experience, you can then opt to heat it to a slightly lower temperature as you might not need as much time for the remaining steps.
- Add dye (for color):
Once the wax is fully melted, add your chosen dye and stir thoroughly. If you are using wax dyes (solids) then you may even want to add these a couple of minutes before the wax reaches temperature for better mixing. Stir until fully mixed. Of course, this step is optional as you might prefer natural-colored soy wax candles – in which case, great!
- Add fragrance (for scent):
Let the wax cool down a bit after removing it from the heat (to about 160-175 degrees Fahrenheit, but still nicely liquid) and then add the fragrance oil and stir gently. Essential oils make great fragrances with soy wax candles. As per volume of fragrance, most candle makers tend to use anywhere from 1/4 ounce to 2 full ounces of fragrance per pound of wax. This really requires a bit of trial-and-error though as it depends on how potent (strong) your fragrance oils are, as this can vary greatly. Plus it depends on how strong you want the candle to smell.
- Pour the wax into the container:
Allow the wax to cool further to about 130-140 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure its still liquid. And place the containers wherever you want them to be for the next 24 hours – you don’t want to move them after you pour the candles! Once ready, pour the wax into your prepared container slowly, ensuring the wick remains centered. Don’t fill completely, leave at least 1/2 inch of room at the top of the container.
- Let it set:
Allow your candle to cool and solidify completely. This may take up to 24 hours (or even 48 hours for very large candles), depending on the size. Don’t move the containers, especially during the first few hours.
- Trim the wick:
After the candle is fully set, trim the wick down to about 1/4 inch. Wondering why this matters? A wick that is too long won’t ignite as it won’t be close enough to melt the wax and draw it up the wick as the fuel for the flame.
- Packaging & labeling:
If the candles are for sale, now its time to apply your label to the jar or container and package the candle for sale. Some people opt to apply labels before pouring the candles, in case the label gets stuck in an off-centered position. This way they don’t waste the wax. Its your choice. Just make sure not to do this while the candles are still cooling as the movement might disturb the soft wax.
Remember, patience is key in candle-making. Let the candle sit for a few days before burning to allow the fragrance to fully mature.
Important Considerations when Crafting Soy Wax Container Candles
Choosing an appropriate container is critical in making soy wax candles, as the low melting point of the wax means it can melt in thin containers. Likewise, wick selection is crucial. A cotton or wood wick is ideal for soy wax. As with any project involving heat, adhering to safety tips while working with soy wax is imperative.
Frequently Asked Questions About Making Soy Wax Container Candles
When making soy wax container candles, several questions might come up. How do I prevent the formation of frost or wet spots? What is the optimal pouring temperature? In the next part of this guide, we’ll address these common questions and misconceptions and provide solutions to common issues.
Crafting soy wax container candles is both an enjoyable hobby and a sustainable choice. As we’ve seen, the process involves careful selection of materials, an understanding of the wax’s characteristics, and a bit of creativity. We hope this guide encourages you to experiment with crafting your own soy wax container candles.
In preparing this guide, we’ve consulted a number of expert resources and candle-making guides. Special thanks and credit to:
- National Candle Association (various)
- Candle Science (1, 2)
- Candle Tech (1)
- Lonestar Candle Supply (1)
Remember, candle making is as much an art as it is a science, and different resources might offer slightly different advice. Use these guides as a starting point, and don’t be afraid to experiment and learn from experience.