Information on candlemaking additives
Additives serve a variety of purposes in the candle making process.
Photo Credit: Simone van den Berg
By Kimberly Good
Additives serve a variety of purposes in the candle making process. There are additives for changing the hardness of the wax, color effecting additives, and scent additives. These additives are often necessary to achieve desired results.
Candle making dye is available in liquid, powder, and chip form. Although other types of dye can be used, it’s best to invest in dye meant specifically for candle making because it will provide you with the best results possible. Dye that isn’t specifically designed for candles may contain additives that will adversely affect the overall quality of the candle. The consistency or hardness of the wax can be affected, and the candle may not burn properly.
Dye in chip form is easiest to use. It isn’t messy like powder dyes, and it’s easy to measure. Liquid dye is extremely condensed, so it only takes a small amount to color a large amount of wax. This can make it difficult to judge how much to use. It’s important to follow label directions on whatever type of dye you choose for your candle making projects.
Candle scent is available in oil and chip form. To attain the best finished product, it’s recommended that you use scents specifically designed for candle making. Anything else may adversely affect the way your candles appear and burn. In addition, scents not designed specifically for candle making sometimes change or even become foul-smelling when heated.
For best results, always store candle making scents in glass containers. They will better retain their original scent when stored in this manner. Keep in mind that over time, the fragrance of properly stored materials can change.
When adding fragrance to candle wax, a product called vybar should be used in conjunction with scented oils. Vybar enables the wax to retain more oil than it normally could. Molded candles and poured candles require different types of vybar, so read labels carefully before choosing a product.
Stearic acid is an additive used primarily to harden wax. The hardness of the wax is a determining factor in how long a candle burns, and harder candles are more likely to retain their shape during warmer months. Stearic acid will cause dye to become lighter and less vibrant, so keep this in mind when choosing colors for your candles. This additive will also cause candle colors to fade much quicker, but fade inhibiting additives may be used in conjunction with the stearic acid.
Additives used to clarify wax can be very helpful. Besides hardening the wax, they make it clearer, glossy, and much more vibrant. This type of additive is often used when making candles embedded with objects. Use approximately one teaspoon of clear additive per pound of wax. Do not use more than the recommended amount. This will thicken the wax too much, thus making the candle flame too small.
Additives are available that can change the sheen of wax. They also help whiten candles and make them more opaque. These types of additives will also thicken the wax, so be sure to follow label instructions regarding usage.
Keep in mind that additives having the same names aren’t necessarily alike. Different manufacturers have been known to use additives bearing similar names, but ultimately these additives do not produce the same effects. Always read product labels carefully to ensure you’re getting the additives you require for your entire candle making projects.
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