I am sure at this point you have heard that new candles need to cure for a certain amount of time after being poured. You see it on all of the forums, wholesale supplier sites, and guides. However, have you ever wondered why they need to cure? Let’s take a look at why.
Why do candles need to cure? Candles need to cure to allow the essential oils or fragrance oils used in your candle to distribute evenly throughout the wax in the candle. Curing also serves to lock those oils into the wax, letting the fragrance last longer and throw better.
When you mix wax and fragrance oil together you are not creating a new substance. It is still essentially wax and fragrance oil.
While wax may be a solid at room temperature, fragrance oil is still a liquid. This is why you can see candles sweat when they have too much fragrance oil. It is still a liquid and it is trying to get out.
This is why it is important to let your candles cure. I might add, this just doesn’t apply to candles, it also applies to wax tarts or melts.
Keep reading below and we will discuss the science of candle curing, the process involved in properly curing candles, the benefits of curing candles as well as some feedback I got from candle makers on their experience curing candles.
Science Of Candle Curing
What Does Curing A Candle Do? When a candle cures, the candle wax continues to harden, even after it appears to be solid. This hardening process can continue indefinitely for natural and vegetable-based waxes.
These waxes are polymorphic and often have the formation of crystals in the wax and the effect you have probably heard of called frosting. This process does not generally impact the burning process of the candle or the scent throw. It only impacts the appearance.
The hardening of your candles wax over time can impact your candles in a few different ways. If you test burn them after you pour them you are testing a candle that will be different than what a customer may receive two weeks from now.
Then consider that customer may let that candle sit for a month before lighting it, letting it harden, even more, the wick that is in the candle might not even be large enough to melt the harder wax properly at this point.
So if you cure your candle for at least a week, that candle will be more similar to the one a customer burns a month later than what it was the day after you poured it.
How Long To Cure Candles
Let’s take an in-depth look at what goes into candle curing and how long you should do it based on the type of wax you are working with.
How Long Do You Cure Candles? Paraffin wax candles cure for 2-3 days, Beeswax candles cure for 4-7 days, and coconut, soy wax, and palm wax cure for between 7 and 14 days. In addition, this cure time should happen before testing the candles to make sure that they burn properly.
A candle that has cured for the customer will burn differently than it did for you when you tested it. You can easily use the wrong size wick if you do not test your cured candles.
How Do You Cure Candles?
- Lid your candles or box them up.
- Place them somewhere out of the light.
- Place them somewhere cool.
- Leave them there for 2-7 days minimum based on wax type.
I find that it is important to lid the candles or box them up so that the surface wax stays clean. If you let a candle sit around for a week or more it may collect some dust and that is not a good look when selling candles.
If you are making pillar candles or wax melts or another type of candle that doesn’t have a lid then I would place them in whatever you use for packaging when you ship such as clamshells, plastic bags, or boxes.
Ideal Candle Curing Time
|Type of Wax
|Suggested Cure Time
Pros and Cons of Curing Candles
|Pros of Curing Candles
|Cons of Curing Candles
|Better Cold Throw
|Better Hot Throw
|No made to order
|Better Burn Profile
|Increased lead time
|Requires storage area
Benefits of Curing Candles
Improved Scent Throw
Curing your candles WILL improve your scent throw. When the wax has a chance to harden and bind the oil inside the candle it improves the scent throw. Curing adds great benefits to the hot throw.
Quality Of Burn
If you pour your candle and immediately light it, it will burn. However, that burn will tell you nothing about how it will burn two weeks from now. After the candle has had a chance to cure, it will burn differently.
It might even require you to use a larger candle wick. You can overcome this by curing your test candles and the candles you sell.
Better Quality Of Scent
Curing your candles give you a better quality of scent through the life of your candle. You can light your candle immediately after you pour it and it will probably smell fine, however, the fragrance oil has not yet been locked inside the wax.
Burning your candle this way, you are front loading the fragrance oils and it will burn off fast. It takes time for the hardening of the wax to lock the fragrance oils in for the life of the candle.
What Candle Makers Say About Curing
In this section, we will go over some of the feedback I received from candle makers and their experiences curing candles.
Is it necessary to cure candles?
The general consensus among candle makers is that some type of curing needs to happen and that the curing will help the candles hot throw. Where opinions begin to vary was as to how long you let the candles cure and if it is okay to test them or not without curing them.
Some candle makers shipped their candles out the day after pouring and counted 3-4 days of shipping as part of their cure time. Others shut their candles up in a dark room for a minimum of two weeks without hesitation.
What are the factors involved with curing candles?
All of the candle makers I talked to believed that the cure time was as much dependent on the fragrance oil and amount being used as it was on the types of wax. For example…
The more fragrance oil you use, the longer you should let the candle cure. It was also stated that some types of oils need longer to cure than others and the only way to find out what works for each fragrance oil and wax combination is by testing. The candle makers I talked to do a lot of testing and appeared to be meticulous in doing so, which was nice to see.
When it comes to testing I believe in making multiple test candles and using different types of wicks and sizes. Labeling the containers and keeping a notebook with all of your formulas, but I digress. That is for another article.
Made to order strategy.
Some candle makers also stated that certain fragrance oils in soy wax candles seemed to perform well only a few days after pouring. They said that they would only work with these scents because they had no desire to wait 1-2 weeks for their candles to cure. They made their candles to order, not in advance. So that short cure time was important to them.
However, overall most of the ones I talked to believed the candle should have at least a week before the customer has a chance to light it.
Frequently Asked Questions
You do need to cure soy candles. It can take soy wax 7 to 14 days to fully harden, and until it does fully harden you won’t know how the wick you put in the candle will perform. The wick may appear to burn fine just after you make the candle, however, after curing, the wick could be too small.
Let a paraffin and soy blend cure for at least 4 days. Less if it has a low percentage of paraffin wax, and more if it has a high percentage of soy wax.
Soy wax melts should be allowed to cure for 7 days minimum. While this is not as important as it is for candles, not letting wax melts cure would make the fragrance oil prematurely evaporate.
Candles with no fragrance oil should be allowed to cure anyway if they are made using a vegetable-based wax. They will get a more reliable burn after a cure than they would without it.
Soy candles that use vybar should still be cured. While vybar can slightly harden wax, it will not speed the distribution of fragrance oil through the candle.
Paraffin wax candles should cure for 2-3 days and soy wax candles should cure for 7 to 14 days.
Since pillar candles are generally harder forms of wax you can cure for 3 days and then evaluate the burn profile and hot throw.
You cannot over cure a candle, however, candles do have an expiration date and you want to make sure you get the candle to the customer in a timely fashion so that they can have that time to own the candle. The expiration date for soy wax candles is 12-18 months.
In conclusion, curing candles is a necessary part of the candle-making process. While it can lengthen the amount of time it takes you to make and test new candles it is something that must be done if you want to create the best product possible for your customers.
Knowing the amount of time it takes to cure candles helps you work out a time frame that you need to work in when getting ready for new seasons. You should be testing candles for the fall during the summer. Testing candles for the winter during the fall. It is good practice to always be one season ahead so that you are ready to launch on time at the start of a new season.
Ultimately no matter where you stand on curing the one thing that will answer all questions is testing. Pour a candle and wait two weeks, then pour another candle using the exact same formula and do a side by side comparison. Do a side by side burn test and see the benefits for the curing process.
If you are curing candles that have lids and want to know more about the benefits of lids and curing then take a look at my article titled Do You Cure Candles With The Lids On Or Off.