Which Wax Should I Use ?

Posted by andrew sanderson on

A question that is often asked is “which is the best wax to use for my wax melts or candles?”

There is no best wax, it is a combination of personal preference and what product you want to make. If you are making a candle which is made and burnt in a container then you need container candle wax. If you want to make free standing candles, melts or tarts then you need to use pillar wax. Pillar is the name for a candle which is made in a mould then turned out of the mould to stand without the aid of a container. 

Pillar or melt / tart wax is harder than container candle wax, it is designed to shrink on cooling so that it comes away from the mould to help with release. Wax melts need to be hard enough to be handled when the wax is set. Container candle wax is softer and is designed to shrink less on cooling. It needs to adhere to the container so it doesn’t leave air gaps between the wax and container. These gaps are called ‘wet spots’. 

There are lots of things to consider when choosing a wax, we will touch on a few here:

Different wax types have different melting points. This is the temperature at which it turns from a solid to a liquid. There are a lot of myths about melting points and which wax melts at a lower temperature. To obtain the melting point of your wax it is advisable to check the TDS (technical data sheet) for the wax from your wax supplier. This will cover handy tips such as what temperature to heat the wax to, what temperature to add the dye and fragrance oil, melting and pouring temperature etc. Not all paraffin wax has the same melting point, not all soy wax has the same melting point. There can be more than ten degrees Centigrade difference in the melting points of different soy waxes used for candles and wax melts. It is often said that paraffin has a lower melting point than soy. For wax that is used for melts and candles, this is incorrect, as can be seen from the TDS. Why is melting point important? If you want to sell wax for customers to use in electric warmers it is better to use wax which melts around 50 degrees C. With melting points much lower than this and you may have trouble shipping wax in summer and the wax melting in transit.

The finish of the wax (especially with wax melts and pillar candles) is important. Some soy waxes will 'frost' when cool leaving a white haze on the surface or within the melt. This can be reduced by following the manufacturers guidelines on the TDS. Paraffin wax tends to have a glossy finish but is prone to sinking when cooled.

Paraffin wax has been around for a long time, with soy wax being a relative newcomer. The majority of fragrance oils have historically been designed with paraffin wax in mind.  Additives have been added to the formulation of soy wax to help with hot throw (especially important with candles) and the hot throw is now similar with soy and paraffin wax although some oils may need changes in percentage of fragrance oil and wick to get the optimum hot throw. Rapeseed and coconut wax has been around for much less time than soy wax and, although performance has improved, rapeseed and coconut wax is still a work in progress.

So the best wax is the one that works best for you. Try different waxes and find one where you are happy with the finish of the product and the fragrance that it releases.

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