Types of candle wax used for candlemaking
There are several different types of candle wax to choose from, and here you'll learn the various kinds of wax for your candle making projects.
Photo Credit: Nigel Silcock
The type of wax you choose for candle making projects is important because the wax serves as the fuel for the candles. There are many different kinds of wax to choose from, and each type has its own unique qualities. Choose wax for your candle making projects according to the appearance and effects you wish to attain.
Different types of wax often have different melting points. The melting point is the degree at which the wax converts from solid to liquid form. It's important to know the melting point of the wax you choose for your candle making projects since the wax must be poured when the temperature reaches a certain temperature. In addition, wax that has a particular melting point is often used for specific candle making projects.
Paraffin wax, which is a by-product of crude oil, is one of the most popular types of wax used for candle making. There are various grades of paraffin, and they are separated according to their melting points.
Paraffin labeled as having a low melting point melts at a lower temperature compared to other types of paraffin. It can melt at or below a temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit. This grade of paraffin is very soft and is suitable for making candles in containers. Because it is so soft, it is not recommended for the creation of molded or carved candles.
Medium melting point paraffin changes from a liquid to a solid when it reaches a temperature ranging anywhere from 130 to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. This type of wax is also too soft for making molded or carved candles, so it should be used only when making poured candles.
Paraffin that melts when it reaches a temperature of 145 to 150 degrees is considered high melting point paraffin. The harder wax is suitable for carved and molded candles, and it has a longer burning time compared to softer grades of paraffin.
Bayberry wax is derived from boiling the berries obtained from bayberry bushes. It is naturally scented, and it is a lovely shade of green. People who create old-fashioned candles from a bygone era often use this type of wax, but it is cost-prohibitive for many. It takes approximately 15 pounds of bayberries to make one pound of wax, so it's very expensive. The melting point of bayberry wax is approximately 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tallow is also a natural type of wax that was first used centuries ago. Tallow is derived from the fat of sheep, pigs, and cows. It is colorless, but it often emits an unpleasant odor and smokes when burned. It's a soft wax with a low melting point, and it is best used for making candles in containers.
Soy wax is fast gaining popularity. Soy is a clean-burning inexpensive natural wax which may be used without additives necessary for changing the color, hardness, or clarity. The melting point of soy wax ranges from 120 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the blend. Unlike paraffin wax, soy wax has natural oils that mix well with fragrant oils. Therefore, soy wax holds scent better than paraffin wax and shrinks very little during the candle making process. In addition, soy wax does not require tapping in order to remove air bubbles. Pockets of air rarely form in this type of wax.
Beeswax is a popular natural form of wax. Many people like beeswax because it's naturally sweet scented, it's virtually smokeless, and it burns very slowly. The melting point of beeswax is approximately 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Because it is a natural product obtained from honeybees, it can be very expensive. Pure beeswax is sticky, so this type of wax is best suited for candles that aren't molded.
Most candle making projects will require the use of wax additives. Certain additives change the temper, clarity, color, and scent of the wax. With this in mind, carefully choose wax and any necessary additives to give your finished candles the best overall burning quality and appearance.