Candle Making Introduction

Candles were once used merely as a source of light and were simple and plain, without color or fragrance. They came in standard sizes and shapes. Now candlemaking is an art form and candles have become decorative works of art that come in an infinite variety of shapes, sizes, colors & fragrances. They are generally used to create a peaceful, romantic ambiance and are treasured for their relaxing effect. Candles have recently become a big part of home decor and this has encouraged the development of new techniques and materials.

The techniques used in candlemaking are relatively simple however the art of candlemaking cannot be mastered simply by reading about the techniques. Only a process of trial and error and good note taking can make you an expert on the subject of candles. The materials you use will determine the quality of your candles but each candle will require a different combination of materials and techniques. Good note taking will allow you to determine what works and what doesn't and when you perfect your candle, you will be able to reproduce it. What ever doesn't work, can be melted down again and re used. Candle scraps and pieces of shaved wax can all be kept and recycled so nothing goes to waste. Candles were meant to be burned so no matter how beautiful your candle comes out, remember it isn't done until it burns well so keep working at it until you get a good smokeless, even burning candle.

A candle is basically a block of wax or fat (fuel) wrapped around a wick. The wick burns and melts the solid fuel around it. As it melts, it ?wicks? the fuel up through the fibers and then vaporizes the fuel. The earliest forms of fuel were animals fats, plant waxes, tallow and beeswax. Eventually the development of paraffin revolutionized the candle industry and we were able to achieve long burning, smoke free, inexpensive candles. Nowadays, candles can be made with pure beeswax or pure paraffin or a blend of the two. There are also a number of different specialty waxes that are used to give candles longer burning times and special effects.

The different types of candles:

Container candles - candles that are poured into a vessel of some sort that contains the melted wax as it burns. These candles are usually made of soft wax.

Pillar candles - thick columns of wax that can be made in a variety of geometric shapes.

Novelty candles - irregularly shaped candles that are made by molding or sculpting wax in the shape of various objects/figurines.

Tapers - tall thin candles that are about 1/2 - 1 inch in diameter and are made to fit in a candle holder. These are the typical dinner table candles and are made by repeatedly dipping the wick into a container of wax until the taper is the right diameter. Tapers can also be made with a mold or by rolling sheets of wax around a wick.

Votives - thick little candles about 2 inches in diameter and about 2-3 inches tall. These are typically used in small spaces like bath rooms for fragrance.

Tea lights - little containers candles used for warming potpourri pots and food trays.

Methods of candle making

Molding - Molded candles are made by pouring wax into molds. You can find candle molds in craft stores/candle supplies or you can make your own molds from milk cartons, boxes, plastic shapes etc. You can also use a rubber mold kit to make your own reusable molds.

Dipping - Tapers are easily made by repeatedly dipping a length of wick into a container of melted wax. Each layer hardens and makes the taper thicker and thicker. The natural force of gravity creates a tapered effect. Usually a pair of tapers is made to insure matching thickness. This is done by holding a double length of wick in the center and dipping both ends so 2 tapers are created simultaneously.

Poured - Poured candles refers to any candle that was made by pouring wax into a molded form - this includes container candles, molded candles and cast candles.

Rolled - Rolled candles are probably the easiest to make. They are made by rolling sheets of wax around the wick. Tapers, pillars and novelty candles can be made using this method.

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