Help a new candle maker!

Discussion in 'Candle Making Forum' started by Grungedoll, Apr 3, 2018.

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  1. Apr 3, 2018 #1

    Grungedoll

    Grungedoll

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    Hello! As it says in the subject I am brand new at candle making but already so in love with it and soaking in all the knowledge I can (so any help would be very appreciated!) Ive read numerous times that to fix imperfections on the tops of your soy candles you can use left over wax from the pot after pouring. Since the candles do take awhile to dry, how do I reheat the wax left over in the pot without burning off all fragrance so that I can cover up holes? Also after doing a wick test with one batch of candles to find the right wick for a container/fragrance do I have to do that every time I make a new batch? (Ie: if I mixed supplies today and did a test with three containers/wicks/1 fragrance and found the right one after the correct burn time, the next time I buy that same 1 fragrance/wick/container, do I need to test it again or can I just make it with the specifications I found work best from the first test and leave it at that?) and LAST question, besides maybe leaving the wick too long.. is there absolutely anything that could accidentally happen that would make a candle you made dangerous to a consumer? I’m obviously just starting out but would love the opportunity to turn it into a business later on down the road after I get much more experience and I guess I’m just paranoid that maybe there’s things I don’t know that could go horribly wrong? Thank you so much for your time!

    Sorry but one more question: I know the depth of the burn pool is as important as the width... but I am starting off with 8 oz tins. How could I go about seeing how deep the melt pool is without being able to see the sides? Apologies if these questions are all very “newbie-ish” but that’s just what I am, haha.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2018
  2. Apr 3, 2018 #2

    cmzaha

    cmzaha

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    We have one member, jcandleattic, here that has been making candles for many years. I am sure she will show up eventually. She has been traveling for work, I do not know if she is now or not, but I am sure she will show up. Sorry I am absolutely no help with candles, but there are probably some others here that make them.
     
  3. Apr 3, 2018 #3

    Grungedoll

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    Well thank you for your reply! I will definitely await the help. A long time candle makers guidance would be great. :)
     
  4. Apr 3, 2018 #4

    LilyJo

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    Imperfections on candle tops depend usually on the wax used and the temperature at which it cools - the colder (and therefore the quicker it cools) the more uneven it is. Some waxes are worse than others and some fragrances seem to produce more uneven tops.

    It terms of levelling the tops,most people flash the tops with an air gun to melt the top and get an even finish; if you choose to remelt fragranced wax to pour on the top, keep the tempertaure low so you dont burn the fragrance off.

    As far as wick testing, you need to retest every time you change anything. So, if you use a new wax, a new fragrance or a new size container you would need to retest. If its the same wax but a new supply then I dont believe its necessary to retest every time. However, it is worth checking it every now and again as wax batches can vary (especially soy which is very affected by growing conditions).

    Consumer issues - too much fragrance, fragrance not mixed thoroughly enough (so it pools on top of seeps out of set candles), untested glass jars that can shatter, too thin metal containers that can burn, there are loads of issues that you just need to be aware of. Not sure where you are in the world but if you are selling you should be aware of CLP legislation which impacts on how candles are labelled and how to advise customers of the allergens they contain.

    As far as melt pools go, you have to burn the candle for a test burn until the wax has melted right to the side to establish the correct wick size, there is no other way around it. Once it has burned to the edges the you should be able to estimate the depth of the pool and therefore whether it is too big or too small.

    HTH
     
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  5. Apr 3, 2018 #5

    Grungedoll

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    Thank you for the detailed reply. I have heard mixed reviews on the topic of testing as far as retesting every time you get a new batch of the same fragrance, container, and wax once you’ve already tested it before (as it is “touchy” soy) so it’s hard to tell what I should do. :/ I’d even mailed Candle Science as that’s where I’d bought my 8 oz tins and wicks, just for some insight, and they said they would test every time... I just feel like if you did do it every time you wouldn’t even have any candles to show for all the testing youd already done! If that makes sense. I’m willing to put the time in.. I want to make great, safe candles. I just really want to understand this all better.

    As far as the consumer part- I’ve made a point of looking into all those sorts of things you’d mentioned (as I said I’m paranoid.. :)) I’m in the US and I have read a lot about candle safety/rules/regulations but will be reading more into the CLP. I do have my warning labels on hand though already, of course! I would just hate if anything I ever made caused any major issues.. so I worry.

    What would you say would be the ideal depth of melt pool when burning an 8 oz tin in the stages of a burn test? I’m aware from everything I’ve read that I’m wanting the width of the pool to touch the sides, but the depth confuses me a little.
     
  6. Apr 3, 2018 #6

    LilyJo

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    In terms of melt pool, I cant recall the exact size it should be (Ive read it somewhere) but for us, anything more than half an inch is too deep.
     
  7. Apr 4, 2018 #7

    lyschelw

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    Hello Grungedoll. LilyJo has answered beautifully so forgive me if I restate what they have said.

    There is so much information out there and it really does take awhile to piece together the true gems. I am learning this in my own soap making life. I have been making candles for over 30 years but soap has a huge learning curve for me. So I feel your pain.

    1)To fix top imperfections-Yes, you can reheat the left over wax. Since it already has the scent in it your don't need to heat it that much. Just till it is melted. But it is usually helpful to hit the top of the candle with a heat gun so that the new wax adheres nicely.

    2)Wick testing-Once we have found the correct wax/wick/scent/size combo we don't retest every batch. We do occasional pulls from inventory and test one just to make sure it is doing what it is supposed to be doing. If we make any changes we test again. For instance, we tested all of our 70 scents initially in Enchanted Lites Classic in a 4" jar. Then the company sold and we switched to GW464. So we had to test ever scent again. Then we started using the Madison Jar. So, you guessed it-tested them ALL again. And when we test we don't just do a few we do about 28 candles using duplicates of 14 wicks. So for us it is a huge undertaking. (There is a reason we don't sell that many sizes of candle :) For people that want to sell I always suggest doing a basic test. Find out what wick the scent is supposed to use. Test that size, one size down and one size up. Three candles at a minimum. Test all the way though. If you get good results from one of them make another candle with the winning wick and see if it burns the same way. For me a 4 candle test is the least that should be done. Don't forget to take good notes all the way through the burning of your candle.

    3)What could accidentally go wrong--Well, the key word here is accidentally :) Things could always happen accidentally that you cannot control. You want to control as much in your candle making environment as possible. Obviously you already know that and it is why you are here :) Every element of your candle has ASTM standards applied to it. These standards are written to help the candle making industry police itself for safety. You want to use tempered glass that is made for candles. You don't want your flame to be too tall. Can't remember the exact standard. You don't want your candle to get too hot. I think those are pretty much the basics. But it is the individual products that you use and how they are put together that will give you your particular results. And unfortunately different types and styles of candles will have different standards associated with them. For instance, a short candle will need to have a full melt pool faster than a tall candle (Due to the trapped heat component). Different types of waxes will have different ways or burning. For instance, paraffin pillars vs new soy pillars. Paraffin doesn't blow out like soy does so the expectations on how it burns will be different. There are so many variables. What you are doing is the right thing and learning about your candle system. Again, take really really good notes :) And when you get a candle that consumes well, leaves little soot, is cool to the touch while burning, flame is rounded (no tail) you have a winner.

    4)In tins you can still see the melting wax when they are burning. If you can't make out the depth simply stick a piece of metal into the wax pool (like a dip-stick) Don't push hard. It should sit lightly in the candle. That will give you a gauge of pool depth. Between 1/4" - 1/2" is a good rule of thumb.

    5)Biggest mistake-Personally I think that one of the biggest mistakes candle makers make is assuming that they should always have a full melt pool on the first burn. As a candle burns down, it burns out. If it already has a full melt pool on the first burn it could be a flame thrower by the time it gets to the bottom. I have found that generally candles 2" or less in depth should have a full melt pool on the first burn but 3" or more should not. The sizes between 2-3" in depth are very variable and depend a lot on the diameter as well. I go into this a lot more on articles I have written. But that is the gist of the idea. I have already written a small book :) Hope this helps.
     
  8. Apr 4, 2018 #8

    lenarenee

    lenarenee

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    Would your articles or book help me learn to make coconut wax candles with wood and standard wicks? I'm working on cocowax 83, wood wicks, cd, htp....and another one that I can't recall at the moment. I have a wood wick size that burns a little hot, but acceptable (these are ONLY for my personal use! Not to give away or sell!) These are in hurricane and status jars that are about 3 inches across (again, can't recall at the moment) and they're taking the smallest wicks I have and still seem a little hot. Unscented for now. But for Christmas I'd like to have a few scented ones. I'm thinking about mixing with beeswax or soy. (But soy is still be unpredictable these days - every lot is different I hear)
     
  9. Apr 4, 2018 #9

    lyschelw

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    Hi Lenarenee, sorry, I have nothing on coconut wax. I am awaiting the arrival of my samples.....waiting.....waiting....Then I will be all over the testing. And will blog about it non-stop. Or until I see a squirrel :)

    What I have learned about the wood wicks is that they really seem to be less dependent on scent and more dependent on size of container. (If you can get them to work at all--different story) What I mean is that scent can change the size of wick needed for a candle but woodwicks overall seem to not vary with scent (in soy wax). For instance, my lilac normally takes HUGE wick in any soy wax I have tried (with HTP, CD, RRD, Flat and Square braid trials) But with the ultimate wood wick it burned beautifully with the suggested wick size. As did every other scent that I tried.

    I am really surprised that coconut wax is taking small wicks. Soy takes such large wicks compared to paraffin. I would think that since coconut is also a natural wax that it would also take larger wicks. But I wonder if it is not as acidic as soy....maybe it doesn't break the wicks down as much....which would result in being able to use smaller wicks.....Sorry, thought process at work. Back to the subject.

    When you say small can you tell me what sizes exactly? And is that with a bunch of different scents or a specific one? I have 2 scents that use tiny little wicks in GW464, 3" diameter. I bet if I used those I would get really strange results in coconut . OMG! I can't wait to try the coconut!!!
     
  10. Apr 4, 2018 #10

    lenarenee

    lenarenee

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    Well I'm glad to help increase your curiosity about coconut!!

    coco83 is softer than soy. I daresay it's softer than solid co oil at 70 degrees!

    These were all unscented (I'm weird, I prefer unscented candles, except at Christmas)
    **Keep in mind I'm very, very new at this!! Don't know how to judge a good burn except by soot, general flame size, and by not having a full melt pool until burn 2 or 3.

    In a 3 inch status jar, unscented, I used the smallest cd wick from Lone Star. (my size label is smeared, I'll have to look it up) It burned crooked as the wick curled so much and one side of the jar was pretty hot, build up on the opposite side. Left small amount of soot. I'll make this candle over again, eventually)

    3.25 inch at very top hurricane jar. Used booster wick (has the narrower wick glued to other wick) 3/8 width, .02 and .03 thickness. When observed by a very experienced chandler who sells they were described as being too hot. However, I didn't see a problem as I kept the wicks trimmed, neither jar has more than the tiniest trace of soot. I still may have the videos of those first burns. These I WILL make again.

    The original wood wick, 3/8 inch, .02, tunneled.

    Dual wick (wood wick) 1/4 inch, tunneled.

    Eco wicks in 3.25 hurricane jars: smallest was eco 4, acceptable burn to me but yes, still a little hot. Left a thin but noticeable haze of soot. If I had a smaller eco I would use it (Known any supplier that has a smaller eco?) I would make another one with Eco 4.

    Eco 6 - even I knew it was too hot but controllable as I trimmed wick and kept an eye on it. However I won't make this again. Eco 8.....forget about it!
     
  11. Apr 5, 2018 #11

    Grungedoll

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    I seriously cannot thank you enough for such a wonderful response! Everything you and others have said has helped me understand a lot more, so I am beyond grateful. :) if you don’t mind, I just need to ask a few more things... (I will probably be asking questions every step of the way as I really want to do this well!) but do you use only soy wax for your candles? I’d asked that same wick testing question on another message board just to get some more opinions on the subject and I was told that since soy wax is so unpredictable these days that they always check the batch number when receiving new supplies and if it’s different than the one they recently tested they test even because of that. Meaning if every time I buy new wax it’s from a different batch, I should retest even if it’s the exact same wax from the exact same vendor. I don’t mean to keep asking this like I don’t want to put the time and effort into making a good candle or something, I do! And I understand if I change containers, wax, or fragrance why I should.. but if I don’t have to test EVERYTIME just because I bought more wax supplies after already testing the wax/wick/fragrance combo on the last batch and finding the right mix then I feel like that might be a little less frustrating. (Finding the right combo to begin with is already going to be fun! :))

    Sometimes I wonder if soy is the right way to go. I really love the idea of using it after everything I’ve read, but I am concerned with a certain amount of consistency. I’m going to be using enchanted lites millennium soy wax to start with 3 different eco wicks in my 8oz tins... I thought I’d try the 10, 12 and 14... so I’m hoping if I like it that I can just stick with it. I’m curious about CD wicks (especially when I begin to make larger candles) but I’m kind of unsure how to chose the right ones (for instance id thought I may go on to use a 12 oz packing jar) but now I’m just rambling....

    Do you know what CD wicks would be comparable to what I’m using size wise in the Eco wicks for my 8 oz by chance..?

    Seeing as how you are so experienced, I would love more insight! Maybe you could give more advice as far as the legal aspect of selling goes as well? I’m honestly kind of confused by everything I’ve read on different sites about liability insurance. Do you have any opinions or suggestions on where to go? Sorry if I’m bugging you with all the questions, haha.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2018
  12. Apr 5, 2018 #12

    LilyJo

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    Wicking coconut wax has been a nightmare - the wicking is much more unpredictable than with soy Ive found. Its such a soft wax and yet the wick size seems all over the shop! In general it seems to be at least two sizes bigger than the wicks that worked for me in soy which I thought was odd but if I go down a wick size it tunnels really badly.

    I only used to use soy but moved to coconut when they discontimued CB135 last year. Everything is now coconut.

    Liability insurance yes yes and yes. As far as the legalities of selling are concerned, where are you based?

    Testing - all candlemakers will tell you that you can never test enough. And everytime you think you have it cracked its worth testing again. Had a fragrance that I had used from the same supplier using the same wax for at least a year. All of sudden the hot throw was terrible and it started to tunnel when it had never before.

    Checked the wax and the last bag was from the same batch but it looked a slightly different texture - retested the candle and was able to replicate poor throw and tunnelling everytime. Kept that bag just for making candles for photos and not for realy candles for customers or demos. So you can never say that you dont need to test or set a prescribed set of rules of how and when.

    Pick a container and go with the wick you think plus a least one above and one below. Make sure you leave the candle to cure before you test. Once you have a combination you are happy with you should have an idea of what wick is needed in a larger and smaller container. Generally in my experience anyway wick sizes are dependant to large extent on the diameter of the jar as well as the wax/fragrance.

    Candle making is never as easy as it looks - trust me!!!
     
  13. Apr 9, 2018 #13

    jcandleattic

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    Hi! thank you @cmzaha - I just got back from travelling a few days ago.

    I really can't add much to what has already been said, but I do want to stress this point:
    Once you know how your candles should burn, then testing becomes much easier and less cumbersome. Yes, I would test every new box of wax, even if it were from the same batch lot. That way you are sure. However, once you've tested that lot, you should only have to test 1 candle, and if it burns as predicted you should be good to go. If it doesn't, then you know there is something wrong, and can get a better idea of how to fix it.

    Happy chandling!
     
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  14. Apr 9, 2018 #14

    Grungedoll

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    When you say test burn one candle in the next batch, should I only just pour enough for one candle....just Incase? At the moment I’m using 8 oz tins and trying different amounts of oils to figure out what’s best... (and I’m leaving the ones I have to cure for a week before burning them) so I make a little over a pound of wax (about 1lb and 2 oz) to fill three of my tins with three different wicks. I love making candles but I’m so absolutely awful at math! Haha. Should I only figure out how much wax/FO I need for one candle or make three using the same way I’m doing now just with the same wick and hope it works like it did before?

    Here’s hoping in all that rambling that something I said made sense. :smallshrug:
     
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  15. Apr 10, 2018 #15

    jcandleattic

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    I mean once you have all your testing done, and you know exactly how your wax should burn every time you pour a candle and you are satisfied and are ready for production - then every time you get a new batch/box of wax, even if it is from the same lot as some you have tested before, yes, test 1 candle with everything the same that you KNOW how it should burn. IF it burns the way it is expected to burn, then you know the batch of wax you got is consistent with your results. If it's not consistent and burns unexpectedly then you know something is different with that batch and you will need to retest until you get the results you are used too.
    With the recent crops of soy, the wax has been very inconsistent from batch to batch, box to box, so beginning with soy can be a challenge on top of all the normal challenges new chandlers run into.
     
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  16. Apr 24, 2018 #16

    lyschelw

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    As for the comparison for CD wicks to ECO wicks. I find that you can fine tune a candle with CD or CDN wicks a lot easier than with ECO wicks. There are just a lot more sizes of CD and CDN.

    What is the diameter of your 8oz tin? If it is 3" than our most common sizes with CD wicks using GB464 are CD14, CD16 and CD18 or CDN12, CDN14 and CDN16. Which I think would most closely correspond to an ECO8, ECO10 and ECO12. Of course you would need to test in your own wax, scent combos :)
     

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