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Q: Candlemaking hobby ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: Candlemaking hobby
Category: Sports and Recreation > Hobbies and Crafts
Asked by: monroe22-ga
List Price: $8.00
Posted: 11 Oct 2004 18:05 PDT
Expires: 10 Nov 2004 17:05 PST
Question ID: 413449
As a recent entrant into candlemaking, I have a question. Two and
three inch pillar candles I have made typically display excessive
dripping, creating puddles of wax in the receptacle. I use beeswax,
stearine, paraffin, bayberry wax, and others. I take careful notes,
weigh my ingrediendts, use many formulas, have read some books on the
subject. How can I avoid or minimize excessive melting/dripping from
the edges? At present, I cannot create an outer shell of a harder wax
formula over the core. In other words, the wax I pour into molds is
uniform in composition.

Request for Question Clarification by larre-ga on 11 Oct 2004 21:19 PDT
What wicks are you using? What sort of pouring temperatures are you
aiming for with the different types of wax? Are you using additives
like color and fragrance? Are you using formulas specifically created
for pillar candles? It really sounds like a mismatch of wax type
(melting temperature) with the type and buring characteristics of the


Clarification of Question by monroe22-ga on 12 Oct 2004 04:28 PDT
larre-ga: Using commercial braided wick sized properly, also have used
zinc cored wicks and other types. Do not use fragrance, have used
color at times,
but have same problems without color. Do not know temperature when I
pour, but what difference would that make? I create my own
formulas...they can't all have been mismatches. To sum up: the candles
look beautiful, but many drip excessively when burning. Perhaps I am
being too critical? Some dripping may be inevitable? I notice
commercial 3 inch pillars can have a core of inexpensive paraffin
dipped into a shell of presumsbly harder wax, and do not drip. That 
is beyond my capability at this point.

Request for Question Clarification by larre-ga on 12 Oct 2004 12:49 PDT
I asked about the pouring temperature because, typically, the ideal
pouring temperature is approximately 20-30 degrees (F) above the wax
melting point, which varies depending on the type of wax, and such
factors as the temperature of the mold. Pouring too hot, or too cold
can affect the performance of the wax in the candle.

Zinc wicks are intended for container candles, votives (usually placed
in a votive holder - excessive melting is the desired result), and tea
lights. They are not the wick of choice for pillars. Flat, braided
wicks work best for pillar candles, however, the size of the wicking
is determined by the pillar diameter. For a 3" diameter pillar, for
instance, you'd want to use a wick somewhere in the range of 21 to 27
ply. Some experimentation within that size range might be necessary to
match up with wax temperature.

Wax melting temperatures are also extremely important to the end
result. For pillars, you'd want to use a parafin with a melting temps
greater than 140F, usually, pillar parafins are labeled 141F or 142F
degree melting points, blends with 155F or slightly higher melting
point, and are most often poured around 185 degrees, a bit higher, if
the mold temperature (surround air temperature) is less than 80F.

If you like, I'd be glad to point you to several excellent
candlemaking resources that will help you select matching wax, wicks,
and other ingredients for pillar candles. I've been a hobby
candlemaker for nearly 40 years.


Clarification of Question by monroe22-ga on 12 Oct 2004 17:39 PDT
larre-ga: I accept your last. I bow to your experience as a
candlemaker. For what it's worth, I am a chemist with solid experience
in organic chemistry...I understand the composition and properties of
waxes and paraffin, but I am an amateur in candlemaking. I don't
expect ultimate results from a few month's trials. My lab experience
as a coatings chemist consisted of innumerable trials of
formulas...that is what fascinates me about candlemaking. Anyway,
summarize your last as an answer, with perhaps a few references to
books or websites, and I will accept that as an answer, plus a tip.
Subject: Re: Candlemaking hobby
Answered By: larre-ga on 12 Oct 2004 20:32 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Ah! Knowing you're a chemist, I can offer a few recommendations that
might help. In hobby candlemaking, you'll absolutely need to
experiment. It's rare that the ideal combination of elements will be
chosen at random, or even beginner's luck. The combination that works
for me (wax brand, composition, fragrance, additives, color, pouring
temperature, mold) may not produce identical results for you. In the
small quantities of the hobby candlemaker the variables affect each
candle more radically. Though it is likely a very difficult leap of
faith for a chemist, for a year or so, halve all of your experimental
values (changes) when in the discovery phase. Doing so will allow you
to pick up the nuances that are so important. Also, because candles
are an holistic "system" more than a precise combination of disparate
elements, you'll need to experiment with only one element each time.

It sounds very likely that some experimentation with wicking will
solve the present dilemma with the formulations you have concocted.
But beware any changes in those formulas. Even small alternations can
have quite an influence.

The best (admitedly subjective) advice online is offered by a
(nameless) Guide to Candle and Soap Making, an article on
the Candle As A System. I've quoted an excerpt below, and highly
recommend the full article. Turn on your pop-up blocker. :)

"There is no candle fairy who can wave her wand and make your candles
come out good. There are no magic formulas. There is a virtually
unlimited number of ways in which candle materials may be combined,
and many will produce a good candle with a bit of experimentation."


"Working With The System: When dealing with candles never lose sight
of the fact that every ingredient affects every other ingredient.
Using more or less of a hardener will almost certainly necessitate a
wick change. Using more, less, or a different scent may also affect
burning and may require a change of wick. Increasing the amount of
scent, may require the use of Vybar to prevent oil mottling. Changing
suppliers of any ingredients will often require adjusting the wick
size or formula. Any change to the base formula should be tested.
Usually any adjustments needed for proper burning can be made by
adjusting wick size."

The Candle System

Also see:

Troubleshooting: What To Do About Dripping Candles

Wick Selection

Wax Melt Point

Wax Pouring Temperature: An Explanation

Pillar/Molded Candle Basics (A Checklist)

Candlemaking: All About Candle Wicks - Wick Information
Select the More Info link under "Spools of Wicking"

As somewhat of a perfectionist myself, I do understand your
frustration with candles that don't perform as you'd like them to. It
actually sounds as if you've gotten very close to perfection, already.
I can only pass along the wisdom from my initial teacher, an
80-something craftswoman, with a successful handcrafted candlemaking
business, that candlemaking is as much an art, as a science, a
difficult concept for us scientific types to swallow. Finding what
works specifically for your situation becomes the Grail.

I moved 20 miles last winter, have set up an identical candlemaking
arrangement, and still had to adjust formulas, wicks and pouring temps
for candles I'd made for years. It may have been simply a new batch of
the same old wax from the manufacturer, or an environmental
difference, elevation or humidity, perhaps, but whatever the cause, my
hand dipped and container candles had to be reformulated, and the wick
size dropped down a notch.

The Science of the Wick

"When you take a look at the candle's flame you will notice that the
flame is nearly invisible near the wick and a yellow luminous zone
surrounds it. It is near the wick that the wax vapors are breaking
down releasing hydrogen and as a result, long unsaturated carbon
chains are formed. These carbon chains are actually tiny particles of
soot. It is these tiny soot particles that burn and release the yellow
light of the candles' flames. If there is enough oxygen and not too
much wax vapor being created at the wick, the soot particles are
completely burned up in the flame and the candle releases only heat,
light, water and carbon dioxide."

The Science of the Candle Wick

Choosing the Right Wick

Candlewick Recommendations

I hope you find this information helpful. Should you have any
questions about the information or links provided, please, feel free
to ask for clarification.


Answer Strategy

Personal knowledge/bookmarks
Google Search Terms:

candlemaking wicks pouring temperatures pillar
candle pouring temperatures
monroe22-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $8.00
larre-ga: Excellent information! Many thanks! I do try to control
variables one at a time...but your info clarifies the big picture.
Candlemaking does sound a bit intimidating but the rewards are worth

Subject: Re: Candlemaking hobby
From: larre-ga on 13 Oct 2004 15:19 PDT
You're very welcome. Thank you for the kind words, rating, and tip.
It's always nice to meet a fellow candle maker! ---l
Subject: Re: Candlemaking hobby
From: pinkfreud-ga on 13 Oct 2004 16:20 PDT
Wonderful answer! 

I tried my hand at candlemaking back in the 1970s. Whew. It proved to
be more difficult and dangerous than I'd anticipated. I went back to
jewelry-crafting, which a klutz can do without getting burned. ;-)
Subject: Re: Candlemaking hobby
From: monroe22-ga on 13 Oct 2004 19:57 PDT
pinkfreud: It is inconceivable that a goddess could be a klutz.
Your devoted admirer,
Subject: Re: Candlemaking hobby
From: pinkfreud-ga on 13 Oct 2004 20:07 PDT
It may well be that a goddess cannot be a klutz. However, I do not
aspire to deity. Perhaps I can be the Patron Saint of Dropped
Glassware or the Guardian Angel of Hammered Thumbs. ;-)

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