Let me start off this blog post by saying making candles is definitely not for the faint hearted! To my fellow chandlers (a person who makes candles) I take my hat off to you, correction I take all my hats off to you!
If you think making a candle is simply melting wax, adding your fragrance, pouring into a wicked jar...think again! Candlemaking is much more than a craft, it's a science and like any science you must research, test, experiment, test, experiment and test again. Not only is this time consuming but also very costly because every jar, every wax, every wick & every fragrance must be tested for burn quality.
Suffice to say since the appearance of Covid-19 sourcing raw ingredients from your favourite supplier, or any supplier for that matter is very much hit and miss these days, but I digress.
Whether you're making candles for yourself, a gift to give away to family, friends or to sell then it's important to take this craft very seriously! You will not make the perfect candle in one day. In fact it may take several days or weeks, dare I even say months to achieve the perfect candle that is made properly and behaves properly.
The first step in learning how to make candles is research. Educate yourself on the basics of candlemaking. With the world wide web at your fingertips, there is no shortage of available material to read up on, videos to watch and get support within community groups, not to mention your actual candle supplier, who has valuable information regarding your wax of choice, wick sizing, fragrance flashpoints etc. You could join a candlemaking class taught by an experienced chandler if you want a one on one experience. The possibilities of learning this science/craft is limitless.
You will also need to learn and choose between the different types of waxes suitable for you. Likewise what type and size of wick is best. Then there are additives you can use, I prefer to keep my candles as close to natural as I can and not opt for additives aside from the fragrance oil.
Yes, I know fragrance oils are man-made, synthetic oils, however I've chosen to use because of several factors A) they're more affordable and won't sky-rocket the price of your candle B) there is more variety of fragrances available. Take my Australian supplier for example, they have over 500 unique scents available and they claim their candle fragrance oil is rigorously tested in a variety of natural waxes to ensure perfect compatibility and scent throw in your candles.
The fragrance oils used in Russell Island Soapery candles are non-toxic and do not contain palm oil. Whilst on the topic of fragrance oils, did you know that they are made up of 3 notes? So what exactly does top/middle/base notes mean?
There are three notes that in perfect combination are what make a fragrance lasting and appealing.
Top note: This is the initial impression the fragrance oil makes when you first smell a candle or remove the lid. It is the most volatile, meaning it will evaporate the quickest.
Middle Note: The middle note is the “heart” of the fragrance. It can take 10 to 20 minutes for the middle notes to fully develop. When you are burning a candle, the middle notes are the most prominent.
Base Note: The base notes are what give a candle lasting qualities. It is the scent that lingers even after the candle is extinguished.
The other alternative to using fragrance oils is to use essential oils if I want my candles to truly be 100% natural. However essential oils are not a great performer in Soy wax, and don't have a very far reaching scent throw. Some essential oils such as camphor, clove, lavender, eucalyptus, thyme, tea tree to name a few can be highly toxic when burnt not only to humans but animals too.
Essential oils don't come in as many varieties as fragrance oils & if you didn't know essential oils are very expensive due to how they are made.
Speaking of hot throw, let me elaborate a bit more on this subject. Candles have a hot & cold throw. The hot throw is obviously when a candle is lit, it's the release of the fragrance whilst the candle is burning. When a candle has yet to be lit the aroma that the wax gives off is called a cold throw. Rating a candles hot or cold throw is a personal preference, what may be strong to me might be weak to you, or vice versa.
As you can appreciate, I haven't touched on all of the requirements that go in to making a candle, if I did this blog post would become several chapters if not a book. So lets recap and end this post with 4 words - research, test, test again!
PS. When you begin your candle making journey, I wish you the best of luck!