What Are the Best Types of Candles or Candle Wax?
Candle wax is matched to the type of candle – container or pillar. The best type of candle or candle wax is a personal choice depending on what you want to make, sell, or use. I sell primarily small container soy candles.
The most popular candle is the container soy candle. They are easy to make and reasonably priced. This candle is often made from GB 464 or GB 444 soy wax. This is a very soft wax and holds the most fragrance for both a cold throw and a hot throw. This type of wax must go into a heat-safe container as it is too soft to stand on its own. Soy wax is a clean-burning wax and safe to use.
However, a GB 464 container wax is temperamental. Often this wax leaves you with an inconsistent finish of cracks, frosting, and sometimes pitting. The scent throw from this wax is amazing and worth it. If you are looking for the best or strongest candle wax, this is it.
Another great candle, also a container wax made from soy, is a tart wax. This is usually made from a product like GB 416. This is what I use. This wax has additives to help provide a wax that can be put into clamshells and still be easy to pop out. I have also found that the soy tart waxes are easier to work with getting smoother tops.
This tart container wax can be used while making a product line of candles with matching wax melts without having to purchase additional types of ingredients. Buying a single wax type in a larger quantity is cheaper. This helps to control costs if you are a small business candle maker.
Pillar wax candles come in third for this group of wax. Soy candles are the best. While most candle makers stick to either container candles or pillar candles, soy wax is too soft to stand on its own. I use what I call a parasoy (old name) or an SS Soy Blend. Most manufactures will not give you their exact recipe, but it is somewhere around 70% soy wax mixed with 30% paraffin. It is also labeled as a soy blend in its name for marketing as paraffin gets a bad rap.
A huge benefit to a pillar candle is that there is no need for a container. Sometimes a container can contribute to over half of the cost to produce candles. This candle is made using molds of either silicone or tin.
Although there is an initial investment, the molds can be used several times (hundreds). There is also a shipping saving as the product is much lighter. These can also be sold as “packaging free” for an environmentally-friendly choice.
The pillar candle can be made with either a soy/paraffin blend of pure paraffin. Some people swear that the hot throw is from paraffin outranks soy!
The pillar candle is also commonly used to make taper candles. Tapered candles today are made in molds, but historically made from dipping the wax and letting it build upon the wick. People look for this tall slender candle in old country stores. It gives that nostalgic feel.
Using pillar wax is a little different than pure soy wax. I have been using this wax for years and found that although pure soy wax is a bought 30% cheaper than pillar wax, it only holds about 2/3 the amount of fragrance oil while still smelling great. The first time I used this wax, I discovered that the liquid candle dye I use would not blend and had to use the wax dye chips.
Also, pillar wax shrinks more after it has cooled and requires a second pour. This can be a little tricky if you did not plan for it and do not have wax for the second round. It also requires the wick to be firmly in place. The shrinking “pulls” the wick out of place if not secured.
Pillar wax has a very smooth glossy finish compared to pure soy and is more consistent. It does require a different set of equipment and candle making process. Most candle makers make do not make both as a result.
Beeswax candles are classic and the most natural. This type of candle usually cost a little more as beeswax is harder to find in larger quantities. It is a luxury candle. Beeswax candlemaking can be made using a container but is often made as a pillar. Beeswax is the hardest as like paraffin. The appeal for this candle is that it is natural.
The beeswax for candle making can be unrefined or filtered as many times as you like. This is not the same as cosmetic beeswax. When paired with a braided cotton wick it emits a mellow smokey scent before add fragrance oils. My favorite, as with many others, is to add lavender fragrance. This wax should be filtered and deodorized to use many fragrances so that it does not clash with the smokey aroma.
To me, deodorized beeswax loses that essence of a natural product, and I prefer to leave it that way. I’ve also been told that burning a beeswax candle has cleansing properties.
Beeswax candles are sometimes melted and poured into a thin sheet that is later rolled into a tapered candle while still warm. I can imagine this is how dinner candles were made in the pioneer days.
Parrafin candles are what is mass-produced. Large vats of paraffin are poured into a candle making machine for commercial products. This is commonly used for birthday candles, emergency candles, and tealights. This is the type of candle I call a utility candle. It is unlikely to be scented and mass-produced commercially.
Most candle makers handcrafting candles do not use paraffin. Some chandlers will tell you that it is an untrue craft as it is not a natural product. It is a petroleum product and not well received by the public.
Working with paraffin wax is not much different than a soy pillar wax. It has the same physical properties and can retain the fragrance very well. It is very “shelf-stable”. The problem is people think that it burns dirty and is bad for your lungs. This reputation has made this candle much less popular. Not my favorite either.
Gel candles are for the artist in all of us. This candle is not talked about much but I am seeing more of it around. The best attribute for this type of candle is that it is clear! This is not a wax at all but worth mentioning. It can be used to display objects inside the candle or by just adding a drop of blue liquid candle dye, which looks just like water. It can be used with soy or paraffin wax to change the way a candle looks. Making candles that look like food have gel wax in them.
Gel candle wax comes in densities such as soft, medium, or firm. It is made from mineral oil and melts at a high temperature. It can be scented. Because it is clear, anything added can change the color or make it look cloudy. Most gel candles are decorative on the outside of the container and have a secondary candle inside. Some candle makers use a container for the inner core of a gel candle and that is where a candle is burned.
When making a gel candle, the gel cools rapidly and solidifies so working fast is essential. Often bubbles get trapped as a result and the candle doe not look as tidy. Also, gel candles require a cotton wick that has not been dipped in wax. The coating on a cotton wick turns the gel cloudy closest to the core.
Often gel candles use cotton wicks with a zinc core to help it stand up straight. This is a better look but a dirtier burn. Also, gel candles have a high risk to flare up on the top of the candle. I stick to the decorative features of this candle.
Other types of candles are made from palm oils, coconut wax, and vegetable waxes. Many of these can be mixed to create your special formula and I would encourage you to test some combinations.
Variations of candles can be made by changing the cotton wick to a wooden wick. I have also made wick-less candles. These are intended to sit on a candle warmer and not lit.
Use your imagination and try each type to see which you like best.