Candle wax blends – Can you mix paraffin and soy wax?
Wax blends make better candles. Before you can blend waxes it is important to have a general understanding of each wax. You need to know why you would want to blend waxes. It is also important to understand what the potential outcome will be or what your goal is.
Mixing paraffin and soy candle wax produce a stable blend that is easier to work with. There are 6 primary types of waxes used in candle making. Each wax has a set of unique properties that when combined with another wax can create a candle wax blend that is smooth, creamy, and easy to work with. Candlemakers often create their proprietary blends for the many uses of waxes. Most that make candles also make wax melts or tarts. It is chemistry, art, and imagination that makes this craft so fun.
Always consider candle recipes as a starting point for your experimentation. Keep a notebook and as you progress through candle making get to know the properties of each wax that is readily available to you.
First, understand the types of candles. There are the most popular container, pillar, votive, tealight, taper, and then the specialty like carved, floating, or massage.
Second, understand the types of candle waxes. There are beeswax, paraffin, palm, bayberry, coconut, soy, and gel.
Third, understand the types of candle wax additives. There are stearine or stearic acid, vybar, plastics, and colorants.
Beeswax is a hard natural wax harvested and used in a candle line that would boast a natural product. It is a stable pillar wax. It is a deep yellow and does have a slight smokey scent naturally. It is often sold unscented or paired with fragrances like lavender. It can also be found as a refined product that has been deodorized and bleached. Beeswax has a glossy finish.
Paraffin is a hard petroleum-based candle wax and is most often used commercially for pillar candles. It has a glossy finish and is flexible when warm. There is a canning paraffin wax that is NOT meant for candles.
Palm wax is a hard palm oil pillar wax. It is very similar to paraffin but is the natural version of wax. It can also be used in container candles. It has a high melting point. This wax has a unique look to the finish. It has a crackle bu glossy look.
Bayberry is a natural wax made from boiling bayberries and collecting the wax that rises to the top of the water. This is a traditional dipped candle from the colonial days. It is a hard sweet-smelling wax and used to make luxury candles. It is not readily available and gets skipped over. You can order it online and there are still some artisans that make this candle.
Coconut is a blend of coconut meat and other waxes. Most manufacturers will not tell you what that blend is but if they call it a paracoconut it most likely is paraffin. Not knowing the starting point of this blend when purchasing could create problems using this wax in a recipe between different manufactures.
Soy is a natural vegetable candle wax. This is the most popular and readily available. It is marketed in a pillar, tart, and container wax each having unique qualities and issues. Soy candle wax can be one of the most challenging to work with. If you are buying a pillar or tart soy wax, it is also a wax blend and the starting point of that blend is unknown. We are going to refer to soy candle wax in the 100% state to avoid confusion. The most popular is the Golden Wax 464.
Gel candle wax is not wax. It is a petroleum gel that is a resin. It has a jelly-like consistency and is used because it is clear. It has a high melting point. This candle is usually decorative and made as a candle within a candle.
Understanding the properties of the diffident candle waxes helps us to understand the different types of candles and how the wax type relates. Pillar waxes do not perform well in a container and container waxes do not hold up on their own. We can create mixes of these to get the best of the waxes properties to resolve issues or to gain the benefits each has to offer.
Some additives can change the properties of the candle wax to change the benefits without blending the wax types. Additionally, the ration of blended waxes can be adjusted to capture a feature of a particular wax without losing the primary quality of the base wax.
The most common base candle waxes are paraffin and soy. It is also the most common wax sold as a mix and called parasoy. I buy this by the case pre-mixed.
You can mix paraffin with soy wax to make it harder, smoother, or to help retain the fragrance. Make some test batches using a mix of 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, and so on.
Adding 10-20% paraffin candle wax to soy candle wax will make the wax harder and release better to make wax melt snap tarts. It also gives the wax a shinner finish. Testing is needed for this. Too much paraffin and the wax will be too hard to break apart for wax melts.
Adding paraffin to soy can also reduce the frosting and cratering or blooming associated. This can help to get a smoother top every time once you have found the perfect ratio to work with your soy blend.
You can mix beeswax with soy wax to similar to paraffin. If you market your candles as an all-natural line, the beeswax will help you stabilize your soy wax without adding chemicals. Paraffin is not a natural product so this would be the route to go here.
You can add palm wax with soy wax similar to paraffin and beeswax. Palm wax is not as glossy and has the crystalline properties as soy wax does but it is a harder wax. This blend could produce a more matte creamier finish with the hardness you may be looking for. It is also a natural product and sustainable and that maybe something to consider in your marketing.
Another benefit of adding a harder wax to soy wax is the wax’s ability to retain the fragrance load. In general, a harder wax cannot absorb as much fragrance oil so be careful to not overload your blend. However, a harder wax has a better hot throw because it has a slower rate in which it releases the fragrance load. A soft wax holds more fragrance by weight but it also releases the fragrance load faster.
Additives can be introduced to candle waxes to manipulate its properties. Stearic acid or vybar can be used to help with the fragrance retention and to make the wax a little harder. It is often added to paraffin to help release the candle from a mold. Paraffin is flexible when it is warm. I have never had an issue releasing from a mold but I have never rushed a process for production either. Commercially I could see rapid cooling and release from molds, but this is not fo me.
However, if you are making hurricane candles this would be a great benefit. A hurricane candle is a paraffin candle on the outside and a soy candle on the inside. Adding the stearic acid to the paraffin would make it harder and help to hold up while the soy candle on the inside burns. This is a combination using both paraffin and soy wax without blending.
Now that you know how to make a candle wax harder, you can also make a candle wax softer.
Make a wax blend going the other way. Paraffin has a better hot throw but is a terrible container wax. It has to have a second pour and usually has a sinkhole.
We can mix 10-20% soy candle wax to our paraffin wax or beeswax to make it more suitable for a container but still have the hot throw of paraffin wax. Again, testing is important here but you see where I am going with this? It is possible to create a container candle wax that has the properties of a harder wax without the issues and vise versa.
Coconut wax and Apricot wax (new to the market) are good examples of this. If you take the time to research and develop your candle in the beginning (do not stop learning and testing) you will save a tone of time fixing candles that have issues. Make some candle recipes for yourself.
Adding one tablespoon of coconut oil or vegetable oil per pound of soy wax helps to get smoother tops after you have poured.
Increasing this ration of liquid oil to wax makes the candle wax extremely soft. This is how wickless candles, scoopable melts, and squeezable melts are made. These are not burned. The candle wax is blended with other oils and becomes a carrier oil for the fragrance oil. When heated they release the scent like a wax melt.
Massage candles are a balance of this. They still burn like a candle but the wax liquefies at a low temperature allowing the warm pool to be skin safe. Testing of course! They are often wax blends with hard kinds of butter like shea and cocoa.
Beeswax is used in many formulas for chapsticks and lip balms but this wax blend is much softer than the candle.
Some additives are worth mentioning because trying to achieve something you see commercially is not always feasible as an artisan. Let me explain. I mentioned additives like plastic. That is the simplest name I can give you for the chemicals added to common soy waxes. Some are marketed as a soy wax but have chemicals added to make them suitable for tarts or clamshell. While there is nothing wrong with them, they are not pure soy.
You can buy “glossing crystals” and melt them down to be added to your candle wax. They have to be in a melted state and the cleanup is outside of what I normally do.
Candle wax blends introduce changes to your formulations for colorants as well. Liquid candle dyes work well with soy wax but not paraffin. Using paraffin requires candle colorant chips. Candle pigment does not blend with either but is suspended. The pigment is used to dip different colored candles. Candle dye will bleed into another color over time. Using pigment in the core of a candle will clog the wick and will not burn properly.
Gel candle wax blends more easily with paraffin wax than it does with soy waxes. Gel wax has a high melting point at around 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Paraffin melts at around 140 and soy at around 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Parafin does okay at temperatures this high but do be careful to not scorch soy. Because paraffin and gel are both petroleum base I think they are a better match. These can be blended to make special effects such as opaque waxes you would see in food style candles.
Creating Candle Recipes
A candle recipe always starts with the type of candle you wish to make. This is the base candle wax to use and should consist of at least 50% – 70% of your formula.
Almost any candle can be a container candle but a pillar candle needs to be at least a 70% hard wax. The softer the wax the less it will hold its shape. A wax that does not come out of mold well is usually too soft, including wax melts. Wax melts or molded wax figures can be used to decorate candle cores.
You can blend multiple waxes. You can make soy container candles using 90% GB464, 10% paraffin, and add 1 tablespoon coconut oil per pound to make a candle. You can substitute beeswax for the paraffin and it is an all-natural candle.
Blend a 50% paraffin with 50% soy to get a better hot throw and a more consistent texture when pouring. Try a 60 / 40 blend and maybe add coconut wax to reduce sinkholes.
All of these recipes will require testing with different wicks and fragrances. Image developing a method that no longer required reworking your candle tops with heat. How much time would you save? Can you make a better candle? Give it a try!
The best part is at this level of candle making, you are no longer a stock candle maker. You can be a higher-end candle business. A luxury blend candle is worth more.