Candle Waxes FAQ
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about candle waxes.
Q: What is the difference when comparing soy and paraffin waxes?
A: The differences in soy and paraffin are explained in our Candle Making University in the Intro to Candle Waxes section. We also have a very informative blog titled, "Soy vs. Paraffin: The Big Debate!" that discusses these waxes and their difference in great depth.
Q: Why can I smell the candle when it's lit but not when it's burning?
A: This is why test burning your candles is important. Some fragrances blend better with soy than others, and being able to smell the fragrance before the candle is lit isn't a guarantee that it will smell the same when it is burning.
Q: Why do I need to let my candles and tarts cure? How long should I let them cure?
A: Curing is important to allow the fragrance oil to "spread out" into the wax evenly and provide the best scent throw possible. We recommend allowing your candles and tarts to cure for about a week for the best results.
Q: I can't seem to get a dark color in the soy no matter how much dye I add. Why?
A: It is hard to get a dark color in with the soy because it does not accept the dye as readily as the paraffin wax does. Even if you add a large amount of dye, it will not darken as much as paraffin.
Q: Can I use soy wax as a lotion to rub on my skin when it is melted?
A: If making a lotion or massage candle, the Golden Brands 402, or 415 would be the best waxes to use. They are dermatologically tested, and have low melting points. Be sure to use fragrances and dyes that are also safe for use on the skin.
Q: Does wax have a shelf life?
A: Paraffin wax will last almost indefinitely if it is kept in a room temperature environment and if it is kept from getting dirty or dusty. Soy wax has a shelf life of about 2 years when stored properly. We recommend keeping your soy wax in a climate-controlled room; some people will even store their soy wax in plastic containers like a Rubbermaid tub.
Q: Why are there so many different waxes?
A: There are different waxes formulated for different types of candles; you can choose from container, pillar, or votive, or even tart wax. Within each candle type, you may have a few waxes from which to choose. Each wax will have its benefits and maybe drawbacks depending on your preference. For example, within the container waxes we have, some are extremely soft and require only one pour, but there are some that are harder and require a second pour. Within the pillar waxes, you can choose a wax with a more consistent color throughout or one that has a mottled effect. For more information on the different waxes we offer, please see the Intro to Candle Waxes section of our Candle Making University.
Q: Do I have to use a certain type of wax?
A: The wax that you choose will depend on the type of candle you are making. Container waxes will tend to be softer because they can adhere to the container they are poured into. Because pillar, votive, and tart waxes need to release from the mold, they will have a much harder feel. If you were to try to use a container blend wax in a mold, you would most likely not be able to remove it.
Q: How do I cut my wax into more manageable pieces?
A: Cutting the container waxes is usually fairly easy. A putty knife or a kitchen knife work very well for being able to cut straight down through the slabs. The pillar and votive waxes are more difficult to cut through since they are harder; using a hammer and chisel is a common way to cut off chunks. You can also score the wax with a utility knife, and then break the scored area against a hard surface. (When doing this, be careful not to cut yourself, and make sure the hard surface that you use will not be damaged.) Check out this video to learn more.
Q: My soy wax candles have a frosted look on the top. How can I avoid this?
A: This is a common occurrence in soy. Make sure you are following the heating and pouring guidelines very closely. The pouring temperature is very important and can help reduce frosting. Sometimes even with following the temperature guidelines closely, frosting can still occur over time.
Q: Why does my soy wax crack on top?
A: The pouring temperature may be too hot or too cool. Make sure they are not cooling too quickly; it may cause the top to crack more if you accelerate the cooling. When filling your container, make sure not to fill past the widest part of the jar. When you fill past the widest part, the top will tend to cool faster than the inside and may cause it to sink down more. Check out this video to learn more.
Q: Why do some fragrances not have a good scent throw in soy?
A: Soy wax is much denser than paraffin wax and sometimes has a harder time releasing the fragrance. This is one of the reasons fragrance testing is very important; some will perform better in soy than others. Even when using different blends of soy, you may get varying results.
Q: Why does the soy form air bubbles?
A: You may not notice these as much when you pour the candles, but air bubbles can surface as the candle is burning. Small amounts of air may get trapped in the wax when the candle is poured, and when the candle is burning, it is able to release up through the melted wax.