Beautiful and lovely, scented candles are often used to create a cozy atmosphere. The following information strives to break down some of the components that work synergistically to create them.
The type of wax from which a candle is made dramatically impacts how that candle performs. The melting point is important, determining the number of burning hours that it will produce. Another consideration is how clean the wax burns in terms of carcinogens and soot put out into the air, as this greatly affects the toxic load of the candle.
Paraffin Wax – Most commonly, candles are made of paraffin wax, a refined petroleum byproduct that is solid at room temperature. This synthetic product revolutionized the candle industry, as paraffin is extremely versatile, inexpensive, and widely available. Paraffin is a harder wax, available at many different melting points, which allows it to be formed into different types of candles and adhere well to a container. Some benefits of using paraffin wax are its lack of color and odor in addition to its consistency in burning. However, due to the origin of this wax as the byproduct of crude oil, its toxicity is questionable.
Soy Wax – Another common type of wax is soy or rather hydrogenated soybean oil. Soy wax is softer, slower burning, and more transparent than paraffin wax. Due to the soft nature of soy wax, it performs well in containers, such as jarred candles. Additionally, soy wax comes from a renewable source, which has made it popular in recent years. Soy wax has its drawbacks when it comes to its ability to hold a high fragrance load. Sometimes it is also not cooperative in adhering appropriately to glass containers into which it is being poured, and sometimes air bubbles cause pockets of air within a candle.
Beeswax – All-natural and chemical-free, beeswax is a byproduct of honeybees. Due to the specific nature of extracting it from beehives, beeswax candles are typically available at a higher price point. Beeswax is dripless and gives off very little smoke and can be purchased in blocks or slabs.
Coconut Wax – Coconut wax is a scentless wax that is a blend of coconut oil and typically a soy wax. This is a rarer type of wax that is a great option for someone looking for a clean-burning and ethically sourced candle. Additionally, it is an all-natural and vegan option. Coconut wax candles typically come with a higher price point. Melissa Risenhoover of Fort Worth-based Bloke and Dame Candle Company chooses to use coconut wax in her hand-poured candles after motherhood took her on a journey to find healthier, non-toxic options for daily living. Risenhoover stated, “[When choosing wax,] I knew that the largest toxic load of a candle comes from the petroleum-based wax used in most candles available on the market. Searching for a clean and ethical option led me to coconut wax.”
Blends – At times, waxes are blended to create the desired outcome. Fredericksburg-based Circle E™ Candles creates their unique composition of wax for their jar candles by blending soy and paraffin wax, which results in a desirable smooth, creamy texture
The purpose of a candle wick is to supply fuel to the flame. Most wicks consist of a bundle of fibers that are twisted or braided together. Wick choice is important in candle-making as it is critical to how cleanly and properly the candle burns. An additional consideration in wicks is the incidence of “mushrooming,” or the black soot build-up on the tip of the wick. The use of lead wicks was banned from U.S. markets in 2003, though many candle-makers had voluntarily discontinued the use of lead prior to the ban. It is recommended to trim wicks to 1 ⁄ 8 inch before lighting or relighting, and trim after every four hours of burn time.
Zinc-core Wicks – These wicks are one of the most popular choices on the market. The wire core allows the wick to stand straight throughout the pouring process as well as when the candle is lit. These are a great choice for container candles, made of paraffin wax. The downside to zinc-core wicks is that they produce a great amount of carbon, which can lead to mushrooming and carbon deposits. Zinc-core wicks can be used in container, votive, and tea light candles.
Flat-brained Cotton Wicks – This wick is designed for use in pillar candles and tapers. The end of the wick curls down, which reduces carbon buildup, and essentially becomes a self-trimming wick. Due to a chemical treatment applied to the 100 percent natural fibers of this wick, cotton wicks burn more slowly and evenly than other wicks.
Paper-core Wicks – Constructed with 100 percent natural fibers around a paper core, these wicks pair well with paraffin-based waxes. They do not burn as hot as cotton wicks, but they offer more rigidity, allowing them to be used in container, votive, and tea light candles.
Wooden Wicks – Wooden wicks are fairly new to the candle industry. However, they can be found in mainstream retail stores as well as individual candle-makers. “I chose wooden wicks because I knew I wanted to stay as sustainable and clean as possible,” Risenhoover said. “Our wooden wicks are sourced from Forest Stewardship Council Certified Mills and create a relaxing and calming ambiance. They provide a wonderful scent throw and produce an even burn pool.” The crackling of a wooden wick gives off a lovely and unique ambiance.
Fragrance & Color
These are two optional elements that can be added to candles that can make candles distinctive. Scent has the ability to evoke certain emotions and spark memories. Circle E™ Candles takes its cue for scent creation from the beauty of the Texas Hill Country with “bluebonnets, peaches, and tree-covered hills” and offers over 55 elegant scents with corresponding colors. Risenhoover is passionate about the purity of her candles and assures consumers that her fragrances are “beautiful phthalate-free scents that are highly tested for pureness and are blended with essential oils.”