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What Should I Consider When Buying Candle Wax?

By Josie Myers
Updated May 16, 2024
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The most important thing to consider when buying candle wax is for what purpose the wax is intended. There are many kinds of wax and without a little knowledge, a trip to the candle store can prove fruitless. Some kinds are intended to be molded, while others are best suited to being poured. Some are smoky or have natural scent, while others work well with added scent.

Paraffin wax is the most common kind of candle wax. It is a petroleum-based byproduct of crude oil that has various melting points. The lower the melting point, the softer the wax and vise versa. Soft wax is best used in jar candles, while harder waxes can be used for molding and tend to burn slower. Paraffin candle wax comes in a variety of forms from chunks to powder and can be purchased precolored if desired. It can also be found in crystal form that requires no melting and therefore works well for projects with children.

Tallow is made from animal fats. It is one of the oldest forms of candle wax and is not particularly popular anymore. Tallow gives off a good deal of smoke and odor that many find unappealing. It is rather soft, so it works best in containers.

Bayberry wax was an early American colonial substitute for tallow. It is made from boiled bayberries, a process that can use as much as 15 lbs (6.8 kg) of bayberries to produce 1 lb (.45 kg) of wax. It is therefore quite expensive, but has a lovely natural green color and scent that some feel justifies the cost. It is a soft wax that works best in containers.

Soy candle wax gained significantly in popularity during the early 21st century. It is odorless and clean, comes from a renewable source and is a creamy color. It holds scent very well and does not bubble or need to be tapped like paraffin. It does have a bit more shrinkage than other kinds of wax which can make it pit easily and need to be topped off a few times during the cooling process. It melts at various temperatures much like paraffin.

Beeswax is another natural wax that is made from the wax found in bee hives. It burns very slowly and has a naturally sweet smell to it. It tends to be a bit expensive, because of how it is created. It is not suited well to hand molding since it can be rather sticky.

Gel wax is a mineral oil-based candle wax that makes bubbled clear looking candles. It has gotten a reputation for being dangerous as it can get extremely hot and burst the containers that encase it. For this reason, it is important when working with gel wax to use a heat-resistant container that was made specifically for use with candles.

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Discussion Comments

By ddljohn — On Apr 23, 2014

@fify-- Have you ever tried mixing soy wax with beeswax for candles? It works quite well and may improve the color and fragrance of your soy candles. Beeswax burns very slowly. A pure beeswax candle can burn for 20 hours. And adding beeswax to other candle waxes will extend life of candles.

I mix soy wax and beeswax for candles. It takes a little bit of practice to work with two types of wax at once but it's worth it. Since I use pure beeswax, the candle naturally has a sweet honey like scent. So I usually don't add any fragrance.

By fify — On Apr 23, 2014

@SteamLouis-- Soy candle wax is nice but it's not perfect. Soy wax doesn't hold onto color and scent as well as other types of candle waxes. Despite using a good amount of color and fragrance, my soy candles turned out barely colored and scented. So I have to use twice as much color and fragrance for the candles to come out as I want.

Paraffin wax is not great either, but it is a good candle wax for colored and scented candles.

By SteamLouis — On Apr 22, 2014

Soy wax is really the best. It's perfect for candle-making. It melts quickly, pours nicely and hardens right away. I'm not a professional when it comes to making candles. I'm learning it as a hobby but I have tried several types of candle wax and I was impressed with soy wax the most. It's also a plus that it's natural and environmentally friendly.

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