CANDLE MAKING TIPS & TRICKS
JUST SCENT WHOLESALE CANDLE SUPPLIES - FRAGRANCE OILS FOR CANDLES AND SOAP
These Candle making tips are answers to questions we find are most frequently asked by our customers. Remember candle making is not an exact science; HOWEVER, testing and much experimentation is needed in order to find a formulation that works for you and brings out your own personal touches.
It is VERY important to test all your fragrance oils to determine the correct wick size for your candle. The combination of wax, wicks, dyes and fragrance oils can affect the way your candle burns or doesn’t burn.
If you want a perfect candle, testing is imperative. You need to test every FO you have in your line. Each FO is comprised of different raw materials and can totally affect how the candle burns and throws; each scent could require a different size wick.
After testing, you will be able to decide which wick works the best with your wax/FO/dye combo and gives you the best results. You should never sell or give away a candle until you have fully tested that candle. You are liable for any damages that may occur; be safe - not sorry. As you may or may not realize yet, IT IS JUST NOT THAT SIMPLE TO MAKE CANDLES. It can be complicated and quite daunting until you have tested and found the "recipe" that works for you. We would like to offer you some basic tips to remember when developing your candles.
We all have our own way of making our products. The notes below are tips and guidelines I find helpful and useful. They might not be for you. I am only sharing methods that work for me. When you call or email with questions, please remember you asked for my help. I can only tell you MY experiences and what has worked for me for the past 18 years.
When you decided to start your project, we assume you have done research and testing. It is not our job to teach you how to do the project you have started. We are very willing to help you in any way we can, but ultimately it is up to you to test and research to make the products you have chosen work in the manner you want them to work. We are not responsible for products your purchase from other suppliers. If you are having trouble with certain products, you should contact the supplier you purchased from. We do not test in other suppliers products. We only test in our products.
Don't assume all problems you are having is the fault of the fragrance oil. If you have not used the correct wick for the jar or container you are using, you wont get a good scent throw.
If you haven't used enough fragrance oil for the amount of melted wax you are using, you wont have a good scent throw.
If you have used too much color, you won't have a good scent throw.
If you haven't checked the temperature of the melted wax prior to adding fragrance oil, you might not have a good scent throw.
Perhaps it was too hot or it wasn't hot enough and your wax and fragrance oil did not bind or the scent dissipated due to extreme heat.
There are many variables involved to get the perfect candle. Candlemaking is daunting and takes a lot of patience and testing. However, when you have figured it out and your get that awesome candle, it is the best feeling! All of your hard work and research and testing will have paid off and you will be very successful in your new adventure!
Candle testing is one of the most important and necessary aspects of creating a candle.
WHITE CRYSTALS OR WHITE CHUNKS IN SOME FRAGRANCE OILS: The white crystals are the vanillin that has frozen in these frigid temperatures. We are in Ohio. It is very cold. Once the boxes have left our warehouse, they are on a cold truck for several days depending on where you live. They travel a long way in freezing temps. Vanilla based oils will freeze. Some oils can "freeze" when stored in a very cool environment. All you have to do is heat up a pan of water, remove the pan from the heat. Drop the entire bottle in the hot water and the vanillin will melt. I promise. Your oil is not compromised - just cold.
NO SCENT THROW - Did you follow the guidelines of your wax? If you used too much FO, it can work in reverse and give you less scent throw as it can clog the wicks, etc. Did you weigh your FO and add it to the correct amount of MELTED wax?
It is best practice to WEIGH your fragrance oils rather than using teaspoons because all fragrance oils will vary in weight. You want to make sure you are using the correct ratio per pound of MELTED wax. How large is the melt pool? If you don’t have a good melt pool - the wick is probably too small. Make sure your wax was not too hot when you added the fragrance oil. If too hot, your FO could dissipate before you even burn your candle.
Are you being realistic about your expectations on how large of an area you want your candle to scent? What size is your candle? What size is the room you want to scent? It is rare that a tea light will scent an entire gymnasium sized room. I am kidding with my analogy, of course, but you get the general idea…
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT - If you have purchased a "perfume" that is light in nature and you want a good duplication of that same light scent - it will NOT make it STRONGER just because it is a fragrance oil. If it is that much stronger, it will no longer be a duplication. Chances are good it will be a lighter scent in a candle. BE REALISTIC in your expectations. We all have a different sense of smell – what is strong to me – may not be strong to you and vice versa. I can give the same oil to 25 people and get 25 DIFFERENT descriptions of what they smelled. Fragrance Oils will vary in strength. Price does not always indicate whether the FO is strong or not. Some scents are simply meant to be light even though they will produce a very nice scent throw. We recommend always purchasing sample sizes so you can test them to see if they perform up to your expectations.
You should never judge the oils out of the bottle (OOB). They are manufactured to be used in an application. Test them before judging. Sometimes, the notes can really change and come out once you have used them in your desired application. SOMETHING ELSE TO THINK ABOUT - Your wick is the catalyst that makes your candle burn and throw correctly. You can have the best FO and wax in the world and still have a candle with no scent throw if you don’t have the correct wick size. Try a larger/smaller wick.
Not all FO's will work as fabulous as we hope in ALL wax types. KEEP TESTING. Take copious notes! By keeping notes, you can avoid making the same mistake over and over. Just because you have a candle that doesn’t throw the way you want it to, doesn’t mean it is always the fragrance oil. There are many factors that can cause light or no scent throw. Wick testing is important so you can create a candle that will have a strong scent throw and an even burn but also a candle that does not burn too fast or cause the container to get too hot. Correct wicking is also important for safety factors. If the wick is too small and doesn't create a large enough melt pool you will not get a very good scent throw. However, if your candle is wicked too large, you risk the container breaking from the heat of the wicks, or you will also decrease your candle burn time.
HOW LONG DOES A ONE OUNCE TART LAST IN AN ELECTRIC WARMER?
Most 1 ounce tarts will burn in an electric warmer with strong scent throw for anywhere from 8-12 hours - it depends on the scent and the size of your tart and how many hours you are burning continuously. Some types of burners are too tall inside & they have a bigger dish which means it could take more time to melt. Are you using a mini electric potpourri crock? These units are strictly designed for potpourri & water usage only unless otherwise noted with the manufacturer... They become too hot for a tart; you will quickly burn the fragrance out of your tart and will lose scent way too fast! If using tea light warmers, you will want to find a spot in your house centrally located (assuming you'd like scent throughout your whole house) and away from any drafts, since drafts can affect how a tea light candle burns. With a tea light candle tart burner, the tart should completely melt in about 20 or 30 minutes - electric tart burners can take slightly longer. As soon as the tart starts to melt you will be able to smell it, but you might have to wait until it is completely melted for the fragrance to reach full intensity. Are you placing the burner around a vent or heavily trafficked area? Is it pulling your scent throw up or out? Have you tried putting it in a contained room to see exactly how long the scent lasts? Are your expectations too much for the room you have chosen? If it is an exceptionally large room, are you expecting too much from one tart? Most tarts will provide fragrance for between 8 and 12 hours. This means you can usually burn two tea lights for every one tart. Unlike oil, the liquid in the tart burner will not evaporate. Instead, you will know that the tart is "spent" after you can no longer smell its fragrance.
HOW MUCH FRAGRANCE DO YOU ADD TO THE WAX?
We recommend adding 1 ounce per pound of wax. It is very important that you weigh your fragrance due to the fact that each fragrance is different in chemical makeup causing each fragrance volume to be different. If you are working with percentages, 6 to 8 percent is the average normal. Waxes are different and oils can react differently to each wax. Not all FO's from different suppliers are the same. Perhaps the supplier doesn't use the same manufacturer. If you buy Butt Naked, for example from one supplier and then switch to a different supplier, it might not be the same oil. It might look different and even smell different. Just because a supplier buys an oil with the same name does not guarantee it will be the same as you purchased from a different supplier.
WHY DO MY CANDLES SMOKE?
This could be because the wick needs trimmed or the wick is too large. It makes the candle wax too hot. Adding too much fragrance or too much color could also cause your candle to smoke.
WHY DOES THE FRAGRANCE SINK TO THE BOTTOM OF THE CANDLE?
This is a sign of too much fragrance. If too much fragrance is added it will either fall to the bottom or pool at the top of the candle. Adding too much fragrance causes it to get trapped at the top or the bottom of the candle.
Fragrance should be added by weight. Add your fragrance last, just before pouring. Use a lower melt point to produce a larger melt pool so fragrances can release. Do not use too much of any binding additives.
WHAT CAUSES WET SPOTS or AIR BUBBLES?
This is caused when the wax on the outside of the candle cools too quickly and pulls away from the jar. One way of minimizing this effect is to wash and heat the jars or molds prior to pouring and make sure the candles cool slowly. Try pouring at a hotter temperature; pour more slowly and carefully. Tap the mold to release air bubbles. Keep in mind that it is difficult to eliminate these completely.
HOW CAN YOU TEST THE COLOR OF YOUR CANDLE BEFORE POURING?
The color of the wax when hot will usually not be the same color when it cools. To test the color before you pour your candles, simply place a small amount of wax onto a piece of wax paper and let it cool.
WHITE FROST MARKS OR LINES (also called "jump" lines):
Too much stearic acid was used; the mold was too cold; you poured too cold. Try using less additives. Try warming the mold before pouring. Pour at a hotter temperature.
WHY DOES MY WICK MUSHROOM?
Wick mushrooming with zinc core wick is normal. This is also a good indication that the wick needs trimmed. They should be trimmed to about 1/4 inch above the wax line. Seen at the top of a candle wick, this is a small amount of carbon caused by incomplete combustion. Often the wrong wick size, wax additives or fragrance contribute to this problem.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COLOR BLOCKS AND LIQUID COLOR?
Color blocks are molded blocks of wax and additives with color added whereas liquid color is actually a dye for the wax. Most people have found that the liquid color works better to get a consistent color for your candles.
WHAT SIZE WICK SHOULD I USE?
A lot of wick size depends on the way you would like for your candles to burn. You should measure the diameter of the top of your candles and choose your wick size accordingly. The approximate burn pool of each size wick is as follows:
Votive is 1 - 1 1/2 inches across. Small, 2 - 2 1/2 inches across. Medium, 2 1/2 - 3 inches across. Large is 3 1/2 -4 inches across.
SINK HOLE IN THE CENTER OF THE CANDLE:
Natural shrinkage while cooling. Wax naturally expands as it is heated and contracts as it cools. This is normal and unavoidable. Try warming the mold or container before pouring. Also, the hotter the pouring temperature, the more the shrinkage will be. Poke holes around the wick and refill while cooling.
CRACKS IN THE CANDLE:
Cooled too fast. Cool at room temperature or in warm water. Cooling in the fridge or freezer can cause cracking.
RE-POUR LAYER NOT BLENDING:
Second pour was too cool. Do the re-pour when the candle is still warm and not fully hardened yet.
SMALL PIT OR POCK MARKS:
Too much mold release or poured too hot. Try smaller wick size. Use higher pouring temperature and poke release holes and refill. Keep the wick trimmed. Less oil will reduce smoke and soot accumulation.
WICK "DROWNING" OR NOT STAYING LIT:
The wick might be too small, or it could be getting clogged up. Also could be caused by too much fragrance and/or color. Try larger wick size. Try using less fragrance. We recommend that you use one ounce fragrance per pound of wax.
FLAME TOO LARGE:
Wick is too large. Try to use a smaller wick size. Also remember to trim your wick before burning each time.
FLAME TOO SMALL:
Wick is too small. Try to use a larger wick size.
WHAT CAUSES THE WHITE ASH ON THE TIP OF THE WICK?
You have added too much fragrance.
MELT POOL TOO SMALL - LEAVES LEFTOVER WAX ON THE SIDES OF THE CONTAINER:
Your wax is too hard or you are using too high of a melt point. Your wick might be too small. Try a lower melt point or a softer wax or try a larger wick size.
FLAME FLICKERS OR SPUTTERS:
There is water trapped in the wick from water bath or there is water in the wax. Make sure wick hole is sealed completely on the mold. Be careful not to let any water drops from double boiler get into wax. Try a larger wick.
OIL DROPLETS ON CANDLE SURFACE:
There is too much fragrance oil in the wax. Reduce amount of oil added to avoid oil leaking or seeping out.
NOT ENOUGH FRAGRANCE WHEN BURNING:
You are not using enough fragrance. Your fragrance burned away too much before pouring. Your fragrance is not able to release or escape into air. You may have added too much fragrance and the wax absorbed it all. It could be trapped at the top or the bottom of the candle. Use a higher percentage of fragrance in wax. Add your fragrance last, just before pouring. Use a lower melt point wax to produce a larger melt pool so fragrances can release. Do not use too much of any binding additives.
DO THE ZINC CORE WICKS CONTAIN LEAD?
The zinc wire in our wick is pure zinc. Any nonferrous metal will have trace elements of lead. Our zinc is 0.002% lead (i.e. 22 parts per million). The minute traces of lead that may be contained in zinc cored wicks cannot produce anywhere near the EPA ambient air standard. Zinc itself is a safe substance, and is actually added to vitamin supplements. There is a way to tell if a wick is zinc or lead. Snip 1/4 inch of the wick and remove the wire. Rub the wire across a sheet of paper. The lead wire will "write" (like a pencil), and the zinc wire will not.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BRAIDED WICK AND A CORE WICK?
Braided wick does not have a core. It is used mainly for candles that completely melt away such as tapers and pillars. Core wick has a type of center that will cause the wick to stand up in a melted pool of wax. This type of wick is therefore typically used for containers.
HOW CAN I FIGURE OUT HOW MUCH WAX I WILL NEED TO MAKE THE NUMBER OF CANDLES I WANT TO MAKE?
It's just a little math. Each pound of wax will make about 20 ounces of liquid wax once it's melted. You will need to know how many ounces of liquid your containers (jars or molds) hold. Say you're making 8 oz. jar candles, and you want to make 15 of them. 15 x 8 = 120 ounces of liquid you will need. Divide that 120 by 20 (which is a pound of wax) and you get 6. Therefore, you will need about 6 pounds of wax to make fifteen of your eight-ounce jar candles. Always figure a little high just in case, it's easier to have some leftover than to have to melt more and try to match the same color again!
HOW MUCH UV INHIBITOR DO YOU ADD TO YOUR WAX?
U. V. inhibitor is used to slow down the fading of the color of the candle. Keep in mind that some fragrances will discolor the wax or cause it to fade more quickly. We recommend that you only use about 1/2 of a percent. This is a very small amount. It would equal to about the same as a pinch of salt.
HOW MUCH COLOR SHOULD YOU ADD TO THE WAX?
Color is to your preference. Keep in mind that too much color can affect the burn of the candle. Start out with small amounts you can always add more. If you want to see the true color you are working with, once you have added the color to the wax, pour a small amount out into a Dixie cup and allow to cool. The finished candle will be slightly darker than the sample.
WICKS - The wicks ability to perform depends on the quality of ingredients in the candle. It can only work well if it is fed with quality fuel. Most wicks have a difficult time overcoming certain ingredients that are supplied to it via the wax, fragrance and color. A wick is like a straw if something is blocking the straw you cannot get the liquid up There are many different types of wicks available. Each wick was originally created to serve a certain purpose. Zinc wicks for rigidity, Flat braided wicks for pillars, cotton and paper type wicks for high fragranced candles and so on. Each wick can serve multiple purposes from its original concept. When trying to find the right wick, try not to rule out something that did not work previously during your development. If you have truly come up with your perfect looking and smelling candle, there is a wick available that can make it burn perfectly too. Just take that time to test each wick.
WHAT IS A FLASHPOINT? The flashpoint is the temperature at which a fragrance can combust if exposed to open flame or spark. Adding fragrance oil to wax that is above the flashpoint will not cause it to combust. With fragrance at room temperature and no flame there is no cause for concern. Why do we list the flashpoint? Two reasons - customers who make gel candles and air shipments.
VISCOSITY - a fluid's ability to resist flow. Ketchup or honey have a high viscosity. Milk or juice has a low viscosity.
WICK DOWN - To use a wick one size smaller but within the same series.
WICK UP - To use a wick one size larger within the same series.
CONGEAL POINT - The temperature at which melted wax gets cool enough to begin to turn from a liquid into a solid.It's sometimes called the cloud point because the wax begins to look cloudy.
HANG UP - Unburned wax that remains on the wall of jar candles when the candle has expired.
MELT POINT - The temperature at which melting wax gets hot enough to turn from a solid into a liquid.
TEST BURNING - Test burn a candle for a minimum of 3-4 hours each time.
The candle should sit several hours between lightings. Repeat 4-5 times, or to the end of the candle, before deciding which wick is best. NOTE: Getting a candle to burn to the edge in the first 3-4 hours is not always the best way to judge how good a wick is; too big of a wick can lead to a poor burning candle that may smoke. Once the wick is narrowed down to the “right” size, several more candles should be produced under the same test conditions as before and then burned to their entirety. Be sure to test the chosen wick in several different colors and scents. It may be necessary to choose more than one wick per candle type based on color and fragrance content.
THE PERFECT CANDLE DOES EXIST. BUT YOU HAVE TO TEST - TEST AND TEST AGAIN! The perfect candle can burn properly and cleanly if you just take the time to test. Know your ingredients, take the time necessary, run several rounds of testing, lighting and relighting multiple times. We recommend test burning your candles for 3-4 hours per burn. This should be repeated 5-6 times or to the completion of the candle before determining that you have chosen the correct wick. Learn about the craft prior to diving in. Know the candle language. YOU are responsible for the outcome. Testing is imperative.
REMEMBER, THE ABOVE INFORMATION IS MERELY A SUGGESTED BEGINNING POINT. TRY EXPERIMENTING WITH POUR TEMPERATURES, MOLD TYPES AND COOLING SITUATIONS. THIS WILL HELP YOU DETERMINE THE FINAL PROCESS NECESSARY TO ACHIEVE THE DESIRED LOOK YOU WANT FOR YOUR FINISHED CANDLES. REMEMBER TO TEST! TEST! TEST!