DIY wax – the backbone of candle making. But which wax is best? The burning lights of candles have fascinated us for thousands of years, from the soothing calmness of flickering flames to artisanal candles too beautiful to burn. However, a lingering question remains – what makes candles so enchanting?
Pure Science. Chemistry and Physics play a large role behind the beautiful lights of candles. Even NASA have conducted research on candles in microgravity. All waxes are hydrocarbons, chemicals which fuel candles the way our blood moves inside our arteries. I told you, it’s all pure science, which makes candles so much more beautiful.
With the principles of luminosity and heat, candles evoke warmth and beauty. For us commoners, candles are simply flammable wicks inside wax. For DIYers, it’s a matter of scent, color, and form. So wax matters, a lot.
For DIY wax, the choice may not be easy. The types of wax are all beautiful and special in their own way. Choose what is best for you and what you need it for. Then later on, head to this list of stylish DIY candle holders. After all, your homemade candles deserve beautiful holders.
(1) Paraffin Wax
The most versatile and common of all the waxes currently in use is paraffin, since we no longer use tallow. Most commercially-available candles are made from paraffin which can also be called straight wax. In its original form, it is unscented and colorless, and it is inexpensive and easily-adjusted for different melting points and sizes.
However, with concerns about fossil fuels, it has lost its universal appeal. It is a byproduct of petroleum refining and has been tarred by the oil industry’s bad reputation and toxicity. Nevertheless, paraffin wax remains a natural and beautiful fuel for candles.
If you are worried about petroleum, just think that we are making use of what the industry would otherwise throw out. Let paraffin wax burn some of your doubts. Checkout this Candle Chandelier which is perfect for paraffin candles.
Before there was tallow, there was beeswax which the Ancient Egyptians stored in the pyramids. Even the Ancient Chinese used it as medicine. Beeswax is a byproduct of bees formed when they are incubating their larvae. Since the wax is imbued with honey during the feeding process, beeswax has a natural sweet scent, which depends on what flowers and plants the busy bees had been feasting on.
After harvesting the honey, beeswax is melted and filtered several times before it is sold in blocks and slabs. Similarly to paraffin, it is also found in little pellets in the local DIY store or in pre-made sheets which are can be rolled into candles.
(3) Soy DIY Wax
The middle child of DIY wax making, soy wax is taking a hold for current DIY candle makers. Soy is an answer to the increased demand for natural and chemical-free ingredients that started in the 1990s. Never underestimate humanity’s resourcefulness. Soy wax is the alternative to the backlash on paraffin and the cost of beeswax. It is flexible like paraffin wax with its variances in melting points, blends, and adaptability of use.
Most soy wax varieties are 100% derived from soybean oil, but some samples on the markets are blended with palm, beeswax or other natural oils like coconut. Blended paraffin and soy waxes are also available. No matter the blend, as long as 51% is derived from soy oil, then it’s called soy wax.
(4) Gel Wax
This is the hottest trend right now, though technically it’s not wax: it’s 95% resin and 5% mineral oil. How is gel candle wax different from the other waxes? It’s transparent.
Gel DIY wax does everything other waxes do – it’s ultra-flexible, and can vary in melt, scent, color, and size. The transparency makes gel wax candles the go-to raw material for corporate and novelty candle items like beer, wine, soda, mascots, etc. Since the wax is softer than other waxes, gel wax is usually molded into container candles (check the Delicate Vintage candle holder) or votives.
(5) Palm Wax
Like soy wax, palm wax is made from palm oil which is from the palm plant. 75% of the production of palm oil is used as food, while the remaining 25% is used in other products. This plant-derived oil is quite versatile as it is used in soaps, detergents, candles, and even agricultural products.
However, palm wax is very brittle which is why it works well as pillars and votive candles. Additionally, blended palm wax is also used in container candles. The beautiful effect of palm wax that really reels in the DIYers is the crystallization effect, which is usually called feathering and gives candles a marbled appearance. Palm wax can also be blended with soy wax to change its solidity while retaining its other qualities.
DIY Scented Candle Tutorial
After going through the intro to DIY wax, it’s now time to make our own scented candles and put that knowledge to work. Firstly, prepare your work area and pots and pans, making sure there is more than adequate ventilation for when you fire up your stove and start melting that wax. Next, thoroughly wash and clean your candle containers. Make sure they are absolutely dry. Lastly, attach the metal ends to your wicks before starting, or make sure they have metal ends so that they stay straight and keep safe.
What You Need:
- Candle containers
- Flakes – your choice of wax
- Candle wicks – pe-waxed
- Chopsticks or anything to hold a length of wick securely like a skewer
- Essential Oil/s – your preference
- Non-toxic crayon or candle color
- Glass container
(1) Wick the Right Way
Set the metal ends flat at the bottom of your candle containers. Then pull up the wick and carefully place the other end through a pair of chopsticks, clip, or skewer. Ensure that the wick is straight. Tape the top part to make sure the wick stays firmly straight.
(2) The 2:1 Ratio
Twice the amount of your container, that’s the rule of thumb for wax flakes. Measure your containers beforehand and approximate the amount the wax flakes you need to use.
(3) Wax is Melting
Place your glass container with the wax flakes inside a pan or pot with water. Set to medium-high and stir the wax occasionally with a metal spoon. Make sure that the water in the pan doesn’t get into your melting wax, so be mindful of the water level. Don’t worry if it’s low, the heat will do its job.
(4) Optional Color
Add a bit more color to your candle by using non-toxic crayons or bits of color block.
(5) Scent Sense
Once the wax has totally melted, remove it from the flame and add your favorite scent or scents. The usual ratio is 10 drops for every 16 oz. of wax but it really depends on you – if you prefer lighter-scented or heavily-scented candles. Experiment as you go along. Make sure to stir the melted wax to thoroughly combine the scent and wax.
Remember that once you pour in the wax, you won’t be able to move the containers until the candle has solidified so adjust your wicks before slowly pouring the wax into your containers.
(7) Cool and Settle
It will take several hours, maybe 4 – 5, before the candle completely cools and settles. Leave them at room temperature for best results.