Candle Making Wax
Good and Better Choices
Candle making wax comes in a variety of choices, some will carry their own scent and others will be ‘organic’ – some burn slower, cleaner, and with a better ‘throw’. Some are made from plant material, making them environmental-friendly. So let’s take them one at a time:
Keep in mind that all dried wax can be difficult to remove from some surfaces and its best not to plan on pouring your wax over a kitchen sink – if you spill any wax it will stop up the drain. All wax is flammable at high temperatures and one should have a chemical fire extinguisher handy at all times. Wax should never be left unattended or heated to a point that it sputters or smokes. Never, never pour water on a wax fire!
Beeswax makes every candle by using a renewable resource. For every pound of beeswax provided by a honey bee, that bee has visited 33 million flowers, ate 10 pounds of honey, and secreted the beeswax from its abdomen using the wax to construct a honeycomb. Beekeepers recover the wax by heating it in water. The clean comb floats to the surface and can be removed and sold in sheets.
I like to use an American produced wax which helps support American Farmers and Beekeepers, and I use an all cotton wick (no lead or zinc core) so you will be certain of burning a candle that’s safe, non toxic and environmentally friendly.
Soy wax is also an excellent choice. Because of the benefits of burning soy candles they are growing more and more popular. They last 50% longer than paraffin, burn slower, cleaner and cooler. They are non-toxic and less likely to cause an allergic reaction because they don’t release the carcinogens that petroleum-based wax candles do.
Soy wax is processed by hydrogenating soybeans which makes them suitable for candles. Add to this the fact that it is readily available; grown in the United States. Soy wax has densities: low, medium and high density. This is a concern only when measuring your scent fragrances… the higher density will accept more scent oil than the lower ones.
Gel wax is actually mineral oil (hydrocarbon) that has been thickened by a special polymer into a clear, slow burning ‘wax’. It burns slower than traditional paraffin or vegetable waxes and has a unique, characteristic clear look to it.
Gel wax candles do consist of 5% polymer resin with the remaining 95% being mineral oil. The resin element begins as a powder however when it comes into contact with the mineral oil the resin’s state is altered to a solid. Gel wax also comes in three densities, the higher density the better concentration of scent or fragrance the candle can take. Also, the higher density candles are able to keep decorations placed within them perfectly suspended; a nice touch.
Bayberry wax candles are usually made in tapers from natural bayberry bush and berries. The natural bayberry wax is a beautiful olive green color and imparts a natural herbal type of aroma. I have found many suppliers claiming to have authentic bayberry candles, but I can tell by the color of the candle and the appearance of the wax that it is not genuine.
When the first settlers arrived in America, every moment was one of survival. Generally candles were made of tallow (animal fat) that tended to smoke and give off unpleasant odors. It didn’t take long for the early colonists to discover the abundant bayberry bush and berries that would give off a waxy residue when boiled.
It is believe that you should light your bayberry candle on the eve of your holiday and allow it to burn completely until it goes out on its own. It will bring blessings of abundance to those who are fortunate enough to have one.
Paraffin wax, now nearly obsolete because of its toxins, is still selling as a cheap way to candle making. There are better and best choices for waxes and I have covered the popular ones. Each one has its own particular plus when using it; so have fun and experiment.
Esther Smith, author
Waxes don’t take a lot of study to understand the better and best uses for each. Candles will become more and more important this year and next, as we have Gulf oil problems that determine the costs to the everyday citizen.
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