A Guide to Different Types of Candle Wax for Making Candles

Whether you want to make candles just as a hobby or start your own work from home candle making business, you need to learn about different types of candle wax that are used in making candles. In fact, the first step in making a candle is to understand the candle wax.

Wax and wicks are two major ingredients for a candle, rest of the things are just additives to make specialized candles. There are different kinds of candle wax. The kind of wax you choose depends on the type of candle you want to make. The candle wax determines various things such as melting points and reaction to the additives like fragrance and color. Different types of wax have different melting points. Generally speaking, soft wax has a low melting point and hard wax has a high melting point. While buying candle wax, you should always check the type of wax, the melting point, and the reaction to the additives.

Here are some common waxes used for candle making.

Paraffin

Paraffin is the most common candle wax. It is also the cheapest wax available on the market. Paraffin is derived during the refining of petroleum. If you are just beginning to make candles, you should work with paraffin. Making candles from paraffin will teach you a lot about how to make candles. 

The melting point for paraffin wax has a wide variation. Paraffin has low, moderate as well as high melting points. Because of this variation, you can make various types of candles from paraffin.  Paraffin is ideal for making poured candles that have low melting points and well as molded candles that have a high melting point. You can also use paraffin wax to make candles with snowflakes effects and crystal patterns. Paraffin gives you a kind of flexibility that no other candle wax will give you.

Pros

  • Paraffin is the cheapest candle wax. Therefore, you can make many candles on a small budget.
  • Paraffin is the best candle wax for beginners.
  • You can make decorative candles from paraffin (the candle that you don’t light).
  • You can use any type of candle dyes.
  • You can use any kind of candle fragrance.
  • You can use any kind of additives.

Cons

  • Paraffin is not environmentally friendly as it is derived from oil mining.
  • Paraffin comes from petroleum, which is a non-renewable resource.
  • Paraffin is non-biodegrade.
  • When paraffin spills, you can scrape, however, to dissolve it entirely you need a special chemical. The chemical might be a carcinogen.

Cream Wax

Paraffin does not contain natural oils, however, when paraffin is mixed with natural oils, the wax we get is cream wax. Cream wax contains mineral oil and resin compounds. Cream wax candles can also be a better substitute for the people who are allergic to paraffin. Cream wax is clean. It burns consistently, without any interruptions such as bubbles. It has a high melting point, therefore, there will be no soot left.

Cream wax is solid, yet soft. If you want to make scented candles, the cream wax is better than paraffin wax. Cream wax makes the best container candles. Sadly, you cannot make a tapered candle with cream wax.

Pros

  • Cream wax is the best option for a container candle.
  • Cream wax is the ideal choice of wax for the beginners.
  • It is easy to make candles from cream wax, just pour the melted wax into the container and fix a wick.

Cons

  • Can be used only for container-based candles.

Gel Wax

Gel wax is derived from mineral oils. Normally, gel wax is used for themed candles. It is clear and even if you use dyes, it remains see-through. Gel wax is also odorless. You can embed various decorative objects –  for instance, a glass fish, glitters –  in a gel candle. Gel wax has an opaque appearance and does not easily mix with additives.  Gel wax has a high melting point.

Gel wax is different from paraffin wax or vegetable wax. Interestingly, you cannot make tapered candles with gel wax; you have to pour the gel wax in a container to make candles. If you want to use scents, you have to choose fragrance wisely because gel wax does not support all kinds of fragrance oils.

Since gel wax has a high melting point, it generates high temperature. If you are using a thin glass container for gel wax, your candle might explode.

Pros

  • Gel wax is the ideal choice for decorative candles.
  • You can use gel wax to make candles with various designs like glitters, floating beads, underwater scenes etc.
  • You can make a collectible candle from gel wax.
  • Gel candle burns slowing, making your candle last longer.
  • Gel wax candles are easier to handle.

Cons

  • You cannot use cotton wicks because cotton does not burn well in gel candles.
  • You need to choose the container for gel candle wisely as it might explode.
  • Gel wax candles create bubbles while burning.

Soy Wax

Soy is a highly beneficial plant. It is the ultimate protein source for vegetarians and vegans.  Soy can be used in many ways. You can not only use soybeans as food but also make milk, tofu, oil as well as candles.

Using soy for a candle is a recent discovery. When soybean oil is hydrogenated, we get soy wax. Since soy wax comes from soybean oil, it has natural oils, thus it blends very well with additives and fragrance oils. Soy wax has different melting points which differ according to the additives used. You can use soy wax to make a variety of candles.

Pros

  • It is comparatively inexpensive.
  • The wax burns clearly.
  • Since soy is plant-based wax, unlike paraffin, soy wax is a sustainable resource.
  • Good for the environment because unlike paraffin it does not do any environmental damages, in fact, it improves soil quality.
  • Soy wax is biodegradable.
  • It is easy to clean soy wax when it spills on something, no carcinogenic chemical is required.
  • Paraffin might be the cheapest wax, however, soy wax is cheaper than most of the wax.
  • If you are on a budget yet have to make a lot of candles, soy wax is the ideal choice.
  • Even though soy wax does not hold scented oils properly, you can add other plant-based wax to create scented candles from soy wax.
  • The best wax to make large candles.

Cons

  • It is hard to mix some fragrance oils with soy wax because soybean oil does not hold some types oils.
  • If you want to make scented candles from soy wax, you need to do a lot of experimentations with scented oils.
  • Soy wax does not easily hold dyes, therefore, you need to find dyes especially made for soy wax.
  • Making candles from soy wax is very difficult, it is not for beginners.
  • Soy wax burns faster, if you want your soy candles to last long, you need to add stearic acid.
  • Not good for those who are allergic to soy.

 Palm Wax

Palm wax is plant-based wax, it is derived from palm trees. Palm wax has a long burning time, the longest for all of the plant based wax. Palm wax produces bright flame, much brighter than most of the candle wax. Palm wax candles do not produce smoke. It has a high melting point, therefore, it is best for the hot climate.

Pros

  • Since palm wax is plant-based wax, it does not harm the environment.
  • It is biodegradable, thus, it is environment-friendly.
  • Best candle wax for long-lasting candles.

Cons

  • Very expensive.
  • Can be very challenging to work with.

Bayberry Wax

The fruits of bayberry plant are naturally coated with wax. Also called candleberry, the bayberry wax is derived by boiling the berries from this plant. When bayberries are boiled, wax collects on the top, it is then scraped and collected. The bayberry wax has green pigmentation, therefore, you do not have to use green dyes if you want to make green candles. The wax has sweet, floral smell, thus, it is ideal for making scented candles.

Comparatively, bayberry wax is expensive. One of the reasons why the bayberry wax is expensive is because it takes a lot of time to make wax from bayberries. Since it is expensive, bayberry candles are generally used during special occasions like Christmas and the New Year.

Pros

  • Traditionally, the bayberry candles are thought be bringing fortune and prosperity.
  • Has a natural aroma.
  • Used for special occasions.
  • Environmentally friendly, as it comes from natural sources.

Cons

  • The bayberry wax is very brittle, therefore, pure bayberry candles easily break.
  • The bayberry wax has to be mixed with other plant-based wax in order to make strong bayberry candles, usually beeswax.
  • This is an expensive option for candle wax.

Beeswax

As the name suggests, beeswax is made by honeybees. It is found in honeycombs. Beeswax is yellow or brown in color and has a sweet smell. The wax burns slower and releases aroma as it burns. Beeswax has a high melting point.

Pros

  • Has a natural aroma
  • Burns slow
  • Gives white light instead of yellow flame.
  • Because of its longer burning time, beeswax candle is ideal for candlelight decoration.
  • Since it is naturally produced, it is environment-friendly.
  • Ideal candle wax for making hand sculpted candles.

Cons

  • Due to the presence of honey scent, fragrance oils do not easily mix with beeswax.
  • The most expensive candle wax.
  • Due to its sticky nature, cleaning can be difficult in case it spills on the carpet or clothes.
  • You have to use strong dyes to make colored candles from beeswax.

 Tallow Wax

The first proper candles, the candles made from wax and wick, were made from tallow wax. Tallow is the wax derived from animal fat. Fat from domestic animals such as sheep, pigs, and cattle was used as candle wax for a long time until spermaceti was discovered in the 18th century and paraffin in the 19th century. Actually, Spermaceti is also animal-based fat, however, unlike tallow, Spermaceti does not give smoke or odor while burning.

Tallow wax does not have color and has a low melting point

Pros

  • People made candles from tallow for hundreds of years.

Cons                         

  • Emits smoke while burning
  • Gives a bad odor when burned.

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