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Adventures In Candle Making

 If you’ve read my blog you know that I was inspired to create candles by my Mother who showed me how it was done when I was  little. The part I left out however is that I’m not crafty. I figured that “crafty” was a gene that skipped a generation because my Mother was basically Martha Stewart, and I was the furthest thing from that.  

With a twist of fate the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and I was left wondering what to do as the world prepared to lock down.  At the request of my daughter we did some last minute shopping at Michael’s Craft Store in Canada. On a whim I picked up a candle making kit. My daughter has the crafty gene so I figured that between the two of us we could figure this out.  

In addition to my crafting aversion, I also don’t like to read instructions. I know, at this point you’re probably wondering why I thought candle making would be for me, but that’s because what I lacked in skill and talent, I more than made up for in bravado and over confidence. After all, I had seen my Mother do it so many times, and she was only a phone call away. 

I called my Mom, and she began telling me a host of candle making instructions that I had no idea were part of the process. I didn’t bother to write them down. I knew I could wing it, and all would be fine. BTW this is kind of my approach to cooking as well, but with cooking it usually comes out alright. 

So we began, all confidence and no know-how, and with some really terrible quality products with waxes I cant pronounce. The candle making adventure began… 

Instead of buying wax dye chips or coloring oils I opted to use food coloring because I just knew it would work. SPOILER….IT DIDN’T! Undaunted, I just added more food coloring, as I was sure that was the problem, but as it turns out, no matter how much food coloring you add, it won’t work. Food coloring isn’t soluble in wax. Google confirmed this for me. My candles did set, and my sweet daughter mustered a “it’s not that bad” remark, and offered to take the candle off my hands. 

Amazon to the rescue. I bought some wax dye chips that are soluble in wax. When I tried them I was delighted, but without having any idea how much I should add, and thinking my candle would dry almost the same shade as the melted wax I again realized that I had no idea what I was doing. Compounded by this was the fact that I decided to use scent for this round of candle making. Again, the idea of measuring was lost on me. You just add enough until it smells good, right? WRONG!!! If you add too much oil it’s a fire hazard. I’m not even gonna go there, just trust me.  

Round about this time I ran out of wax. What was a girl to do with everything locked down? I certainly couldn’t let candle making beat me. After all I really do love beautiful candles, and so I wanted to be able to do this. 

In my search for wax I found a lot of cheap stuff on Amazon and eBay that were questionable at best, and so I widened my search. Internationally I found the Wooden Wick CoP&J Trading and Lonestar Candle Supply to name but a few. In Canada I found Canwax and C&C Candle Co.

This is when I started realizing that there was a whole science to candle making. In fact I found a store called CandleScience that I really admired – but they don’t ship to Canada. I started researching premium waxes, and then I splurged and bought myself several types of waxes from the Wooden Wick Co. The verdict? Coco Apricot Crème wax all the way! Its luxurious. It’s actually used by high-end candle companies. Its natural, with excellent scent throw and wonderful glass adhesion. Every time you pour a candle, it sets perfectly with a silky, smooth perfect top; A quality that was very important for a novice like me. 

I used many waxes, and my candles came out okay. Definitely better than the first batch, but something wasn’t quite right. I was buying top tier luxury materials, but I wasn’t making luxury candles.   

I broke down and bought a journal. I figured I should start documenting what I was doing so I could find the sweet spot, the perfect pour temperature, the perfect wick, the perfect vessel. And yes, you can do that if you have months to kill – which I did. You can also opt to READ INSTRUCTIONS which still had not occurred to me. The idea finally dawned on to me one day when I watched a candle making How to video on YouTube. There’s a lot of good videos for beginner candle makers, and so I watched video after video, and just as the information started to blur together one of the YouTube creators said something that made me look up. She said, “If you’re like me you don’t like to read instructions” DING DING DING!! “but when making candles you really have to” BOOOOO! She went on to say that the manufacturer of the waxes would know better than anyone the perfect pour temperature for their product, and that if they’d gone to the trouble to list it on the instructions, I really should read and follow those instructions.

A lightbulb went off, and from that point I started making candles that were nice, even accidently good….but something still wasn’t right, and I was starting to get a clue from the instructions. 

I kept seeing the phrase “Maximum scent load” What was that? Did people really measure that? I wanted a really strong smell so it’s alright to add more, possibly double the recommended scent, right? WRONG…refer back to my fire hazard comment. Also, the wick you choose doesn’t matter, right? WRONG!  

This is when helpful resources like wicking guides on websites such as the Wooden wick co and Lonestar became so important. I didn’t necessarily read every word, but I read enough to know that the type of wax you use determines the wick, and that the vessel you use determines the size of wick or wicks you need. PROFOUND!! 

Still in the dark about scent I kept reading and watching videos until I realized how you must stir the oil into the wax for a minimum of two minutes to give the wax time to bind to the wax. This will allow for your candle to smell as you had intended. I also realized that some scents are just naturally more robust, and that most wax types have a max scent range around 8 – 10%. You can adjust slightly to accommodate your preference. I also learned that adding too much scent will just ruin your candle and waste money as premium scents are expensive. 

Armed with this knowledge I made candles again, this time with what I deem the finest luxury wax, coco apricot crème, the finest vessel, iLite with silver electroplated lid, and the perfect cotton or wooden wicks suited to my vessel size and wax type. My max fragrance load is 10%, and I stay right in that percentile for all my fragrances. 

I made candles that were stunning, that smelled as good as they looked. As it turns out I wasn’t missing the crafty gene. I just needed to find something that I loved to do and then work at it until it was a masterpiece.  

I truly believe you will appreciate the premium quality materials as much as I do. I’m happy to have hopefully taken some of the guess work and trial and error out of your candle making journey.

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