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IHDE-Kerzen und Handelskammern

www.kerzenmacher.info Information for professionals and amateurs on how to make candles.

 

 

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An information site by Ihde-Kerzen

Some answers to frequently asked questions:

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Wax types

What is gel wax?
What is paraffin?
What is stearin?
What is beeswax?
Beeswax perfume
Gel wax becomes blear
Cooled wax contains bubbles
Which wax should be used for dipping candles?
Casting temperature
Wax bars for Danish flower candles
How do you clean wax?

 

Equipment

Candle dyes
Scents
Wicks
Suction head of the wick in lamp oil
Wicks and oil lamps
Round wicks - upper or lower end?

 

Casting candles

Plastic moulds and scent wax
Plastic moulds
Moulds with two basins
Little bubbles at the rim of a candle
Removal of candles from plastic moulds
Candles get a whitish surface, just like crystal deposits, when they are being removed
Candles shrink at the point where the wax has been filled in
Candles produce soot
Candles can’t be lighted properly!
Dipping stearin candles

 

Mould construction

Working with silicone rubber

 

 

 

 

What is gel wax?

Gel wax is a mix of oil and a polymer. The gel wax from the candle craft center consists of medical white oil - with DAB-approval for medical use – and binders whose use is allowed for cosmetic purposes.You can also find gel wax which is made with lower-quality oils. Products of gel wax from the Far East sometimes even smell like fuel oil!

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What is Paraffin?
 

Paraffin is extracted from petroleum. There is liquid, soft and hard paraffin. Due to the process of a hydrolysis under high pressure nowadays we are able to extract paraffin without any health risk. This paraffin even is DAB (German version of USA-FDA) -approved for medical purposes. Our paraffin is one of those. Another older method is the fractional distillation. This means that different kinds of paraffin are distilled off from the raw slack wax.

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What is Stearin?
 

100 years ago stearin was extracted for the first time thanks to the chemical splitting of vegetable or animal fat. Up to this discovery different fat and oil which produced soot or stank had been used for oil lamps. It became a cheaper alternative for beeswax. Vegetable, renewable product. Stearin is used to 10 to 30 % with paraffin for better colours of the candle. It is quite difficult to burn down candles only made of stearin without any soot production.

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What is beeswax?

Beeswax is a natural and very odoriferous product. It tends to clog the wick due to the natural defilement – some people try to oppose it with a bigger wick but this ends in a soot production if the wax actually is clean.

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Beeswax perfume

100% pure beeswax must be really 100% pure, otherwise it would be fraud. The candle craft center buys beeswax which is 100% pure and it is sold to a third person without any additional treatment. If it contained any other kind of wax our furnisher would be in a lot of trouble. With the perfume it is different as this can evaporate. The beeswax perfume can also be influenced by very high melting temperatures. What is more, there is no “standard bee”. Thus, a certain fluctuation of the intensity and the kind of perfume is normal.

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Gel wax becomes blear

The reason might be: defilement due to hard wax (paraffin etc.), water or unsuitable, too highly concentrated fragrance oils. Defilements of less than one percent are sufficient for blearing gel wax. In some rare cases the polymer in the gel wax is not dissolved entirely. The tarnish disappears when you heat the wax quite a lot.

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Cooled wax contains bubbles

Please have an eye on the right temperature (not too cold!) and make sure that your moulds don't contain any air.

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Which wax should be used for dipping candles?

For dipping candles you have to dip the wick a couple of times into wax. During each dip a bit more wax clings to the wick – until the candle becomes as thick as you wish.

Actually you can take all types of paraffin from www.candlecraftcenter.com for dipping candles. The type 62C (freezing point = 62 degrees) has the advantage that very much wax clings to the wick thanks to the high freezing point. Consequently you can work with it a little faster than with other wax types. The wax is quite brittle and inapplicable to form it belated. Hard wax (about 2%) raises the freezing point – more wax clings to the wick. The wax keeps being brittle.

Very suitable is type 54C. It is used for dipping machines and is much more elastic than the wax mentioned above. In comparison to type 62C it is shapeable as long as it is warm. If you use hard wax with type 54C it also becomes a little brittle. In dipping machines an “endless” wick is dipped in a wax bath during a constant process. At the end of the machine an extremely long candle comes out very slowly which must be cut and sharpened.

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Casting temperature

The casting temperature is very important for the success of the casting of candles. It depends on the wax, the wished surface and on the shaped material. Learning by doing. If the wax is too hot when it’s poured in the mould it will cling to the wall of the mould, be difficult to form and it might destroy the mould finally. If the wax is too cold when it’s poured in the mould – a quite thick film forms in the mould – it will be formed easily and will have a rustic and interesting surface. As a rule of thump you can take 90 degrees.

In contrast to water you can’t see when wax becomes very hot. In a double boiler it does not become hotter than 100 degrees. By melting the wax without a double boiler it can become so hot that it steams. Those vapours can be harmful and in extreme cases they can even catch fire! It does not require any ignition spark to ignite steaming wax!

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Wax bars for Danish flower candles

For Danish flower candles you need special wax bars, which are moulded at the side of the candle, parallel to the wick. If you are very strong you’ll be able to cut those bars directly from the plate with a sharp and short knife. But for that you really need much strength. It is easier to build a suitable flask and to pour the wax. If you watch for the right moment you’ll be able to cut the cooling wax into the wished form.

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How do you clean wax?

This is not easy when it should be well done. The easiest way is to start with new, industrially cleaned wax. If this is not possible, however, heat the wax in a smooth-sided container until it’s very hot, then insulate it very well and let it cool very slowly without moving it. The slower, the better. It can even take several days (this of course, only makes sense as long as the wax remains liquid...) This allows heavy components to sink, while lighter ones come to the surface…

Once the wax has set and you've removed it from the container, you'll be able to scrape heavy contaminants from the bottom and lighter deposits from the top. It is extremely unlikely that you will find contaminants which weigh exactly the same as the wax.

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Candle dyes

There are two different kinds of colours - transparent ink dye (soluble) and pigment dye. Both have advantages as well as disadvantages. Transparent ink dyes are highly concentrated and do not affect the burning. They are suitable for solid-coloured candles but tend to be light-sensitive, and some colours may fade dramatically in sunlight or direct halogen light. Normal home lighting conditions will not affect them.

Pigment dyes from our candle craft center are basically ground but insoluble dyes. They are lightfast and available in many colours. If they are too highly concentrated – in other words – if the colours are too strong, the wick of solid-coloured candles will tend to clog. Pigment dyes are most suitable for dipping waxes. You can allay that the wick clogs when you chose a bigger wick.

For gel wax we recommend  special liquid dyes. These colours are easily measurable and concentrated. Gel wax colours tend to be light-sensitive.

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Scents

Depending on their intensity, scents should be added in a ratio of 0.5 to 4%. Generally there are two basic types of scent.

Essential oils – these oils are natural and vaporize completely at room temperature. Essential oils are for example lemon, orange, tangerine, spruce and larch.

Perfume oils –these scents contain natural as well as synthetic material. Apples, pears and strawberries, for instance, do not have their own essential oils. Consequently those oils have to be composed. Roses do have their natural oils but this is extremely expensive. That’s why those oils are composed as well. Like this they are cheaper and they even don’t lose their perfume. 

Some scents are irritants in their concentrated form. So please do not inhale it intensively. Oil of cinnamon is essential, natural oil which is so aggressive that it even gnaws at plastic!

Some fragrance oils contain components which are insoluble in wax. These components only operate as a carrier substance for the scent while they keep being undissolved. The best is to keep the mixture of wax and scent oil in the pouring tank for several minutes. If insoluble components exist they will now be at the bottom of the tank. You can avoid that these components find their way into your candle when you decant it carefully.

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Wicks

Flat wicks consist of braided cotton threads. The designation 3 X 21 means, for instance, that the wick is made of 3 cords of 21 thin threads each. The size of the wick influences the size of the flame which means that it also influences the size of the pool of molten wax around the flame. You can find guidelines for the sizes of wicks on www.candlecraftcenter.com.

Round wicks are braided roundly and are used basically for wicks containing beeswax or stearin. For round wicks you have to differentiate between the upper and the lower end. If you insert the wick the other way around it won’t burn well.

For candles made of pure stearin there are special stearin wicks. Other wicks coal easily in this material.

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Suction head of the wick in lamp oil

The suction head depends on the type of oil. Colza oil is quite viscous and does not ascend well.

In thin paraffin oils the maximum suction head of 10 cm should not be overstepped. During an experiment with coloured oil (only to determine the suction head, without burning down!) we measured values between 15 and 20 cm. While the lamp burns down it has never reached this limit as the suction speed is not fast enough in the upper rang.

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Wicks and oil lamps

The burning behaviour of oil lamps depends on several factors.
The distance between the flame and the oil level should be very short. The wick can hardly absorb more than 10 cm!
The hole for the wick must not be so narrow that the capillary action is stopped. The oil has to be preferably thin.
Paraffin oil causes health risks when you swallow it but it definitely burns best.
Colza oil, as we know it, generally is too thick. Cotton wicks burn down; they have to be drawn out of the hole every now and then.
Fibre glass wicks do not burn down. They only have to be renewed (drawn out and cut) when the capillary action has been stopped due to dirt.

 

Round wick - upper or lower end?

Only round wicks have an upper and a lower end! For flat wicks the direction doesn’t matter.
Round wicks are delivered with a mark which is generally at the lower end of the wick where they are red-coloured.

If you have a round wick without any mark it will be very difficult to differentiate the right end. If it was placed correctly the threads of the wick would spread outwards while it burns down. If it was placed incorrectly the threads of the wick would spread inwards and it would not burn well.

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Moulds with two basins

These moulds are more likely for advanced learners. Important! First of all the annexed impermeability must be inserted at full length! If you have already used the mould you would have had to free it with hot water from the remaining wax. For putting together the two halves of the mould you need quite a lot force. But then the mould will be impervious! The pouring temperature should be about 80 – 90 degrees – the hotter the wax is the easier it runs through!

Plastic moulds

Moulds for candles made of crystal-clear polycarbonate are heat-proof up to about 130 degrees. They are suitable for all types of wax. The size of the wick depends on the mixture of the wax and on the diameter.

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Tips on the size of the wick

For unruffled surfaces and pure paraffin the optimal pouring temperature is 90 degrees.
For ruffled surfaces the temperature should be curtly above the melting point.
The candles must have cooled completely before you can remove them.
Don’t use your force, the moulds could break.
If you are not able to remove a candle from a mould it will help to put it in a freezer! If this does not help either, help yourself with hot water. The candle might be destroyed but at least the mould keeps safe.

 

Be careful with scents! Some scent oils gnaw at plastic moulds.

 

Plastic moulds can be filled with most of the solid candle waxes. The pouring temperature is very important. If it is too high the wax will cling to the wall, especially in the corners. It can only be removed with hot soap water or an organic resolvent. Please test the resolvent firstly on the outside of the mould in order to know if it gnaws at the surface. The lower lead through of the wick can be closed easily with a knot at the lower end of the wick. Knot the wick at the lower end, pull the wick up so that it’s taut and affix the wick to the wick needle (knot or wrap it).

Please note that a rate of stearin of more than 20% can cause cracks in the surface of plastic moulds!!! When stearin cools it has a distinct crystal structure which brings sometimes an extreme high expansion pressure. Metal moulds can rather bear up against this pressure. Most of the time it is quite difficult to remove pure stearin candles from a hard mould! Silicone rubber is more suitable.

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Little bubbles at the rim of a candle

These bubbles occur when rising air bubbles in the liquid wax accumulate at the cold outside of the mould. When the wax cools it tightens and the bubbles become bigger. The releasing agent Cancol blocks the bubbling. You can also remove the bubbles by stirring it strongly. Another possibility is to wipe the surface from the inside just after the pouring with a hot paint brush (heating brush).

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Dipping of stearin candles

Stearin corrodes base metal. It also gnaws at the surface of moulds made of steel, aluminium and zinc. But this does not mean that the moulds dissolve after 3 or 4 candles…

It is often difficult to remove pure stearin candles from the mould. You can help yourself either with a hot water bath or you can put the mould into boiling water for a short moment. The best is to take silicone moulds.

Please note that a rate of stearin of more than 20% can cause cracks in the surface of plastic moulds!!
When stearin cools it has a distinct crystal structure which brings sometimes an extreme high expansion pressure. Metal moulds can rather bear up against this pressure. Most of the time it is quite difficult to remove pure stearin candles from a hard mould! Silicone rubber is more suitable.

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Plastic moulds and scent wax

Some scent oils gnaw at the surface of plastic moulds. One of those is cinnamon oil.

Some fragrance oils contain components which are insoluble in wax. These components only operate as a carrier substance for the scent while they keep being undissolved. The best is to keep the mixture of wax and scent oil in the pouring tank for several minutes. If insoluble components exist they will now be at the bottom of the tank. You can avoid that these components find their way into your candle when you decant it carefully.

When insoluble components get into the candle it might cause:

Bad burning down

Shabby surface

Gnawing at the surface of the plastc mould. Thereby the moulds can become unusable!

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Removal of candles from plastic moulds

Candles made of pure paraffin or of paraffin with a stearin rate of maximum 20% are generally easily removed from the mould after they have cooled completely (!). If you have problems with it nevertheless just put it into the freezer for a short time. Higher stearin rates can destroy the moulds! Pure beeswax is often gluey.

The releasing agent “Cancol” improves the surface and facilitates the removal of the candle from the mould.

 

Removal of pole candles from glass moulds

Glass moulds for pole candles sometimes are a little intractable. To remove the candle it must be completely cooled and the wax has to shrink a little bit. It often helps to put the filled mould (with an already solidified candle) into a freezer for one hour. If you choose a wax that doesn’t shrink much and it was just not possible to remove you’ll have to use high temperatures. You can, for instance, rise the temperature of the mould above the melting point with a hair-dryer. Another possibility is to souse it with boiling water.

 

Removal of candles from moulds (in general)

If it’s easy or more or less difficult to remove candles from moulds depends mostly on the mixture of the wax, the pouring temperature, the shape of the mould and the material of which the mould is made. To remove solidified stearin from a tubular mould is the most difficult thing when the stearin has been too hot when it was filled in. You can remove almost all kinds of wax easily from silicone rubber moulds. Furthermore you can inject metal or plastic moulds with the releasing agent Cancol Art. 7880 (dilution 1:10 to 1:20). After it has been dried an effective separation layer will form.

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Candles get a whitish surface, just like crystal deposits, when they are being removed
 

Especially when you work with metal or plastic moulds you should have an eye on the temperature of the wax. If it’s too hot the mould will heat until it reaches a temperature above the melting point of the wax. As a consequence the wax and the (unpolished) metal bond together very strongly. The mixture of the wax doesn’t matter in this case. Possible solutions: to moisten the moulds with for example Cancol and to let the water evaporate before filling in the wax. Another possibility is to let cool liquid wax until it forms a film before pouring it in the mould. Besides you can also heat the mould before removing the candle. For the work with professional candle-making machines the pouring and removal temperatures are very important.

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Candles shrink at the point where the wax has been filled in

This is the normal heat expansion.
If the point where the wax has been filled in the mould cooled directly after pouring it, the wax wouldn’t have the chance to shrink. Thus it would shrink elsewhere. Sometimes it makes sense to pierce the point where the wax has been filled in as soon as it has solidified in order to avoid that it shrinks somewhere where it’s not supposed to do so.
Due to the shrinkage a hole will form which you can either refill or melt off, but only after it has cooled completely.

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Candles produce soot

The reason why candles produce soot is generally that the wick is too thick or that some coke tips on the top of the wick. Please keep wicks short and clean. Dirty wax can also produce soot.

The burning down of the following candles generally doesn’t bring any trouble:

Pure paraffin candles

Mixed candles of paraffin and 10 to 30% stearin

Gel wax candles with a diameter and height of < 6 cm

Pure, clean beeswax

Always assumed that you use the right type of wick!

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Candles can’t be lighted properly!

“Raw”, unwaxed wicks do not scorch! Please keep in mind that you have to wax at least the part of the wick which pokes out of the candle. In a pinch you can also soak it in oil. As soon as the flame reaches almost the candle wax, the wax melts and will finally be absorbed by the wick.  Another common reason for bad-burning candles is unclean wax. Re-melted candle stubs have actually never been clean. A thicker wick might help but tends to produce soot.

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Working with silicone rubber. Photos

These tips are legally noncommittal. People that have never worked with silicone rubber should definitively make some little tests without using original valuable moulds.

It is very important to facilitate compliance with safety regulations such as the use of protective gloves and glasses. The accelerator is caustic and might spurt out at the beginning when you mix it incautiously. The accelerator must not touch your eyes!

The basic compound must be mixed well (most suitable is the use of a slow motor but it‘s also possible to mix it manually). Make sure that you comply exactly with the mix ratio of the basic compound and the accelerator. Moreover, it must be mixed very well.

Silicone from www.candlecraftcenter.com is very easy to remove from any kinds of moulds. Mould release agents are generally unnecessary (you only need it when you use silicone on silicone).

If you follow these rules you'll end up with one of the best, most robust and age-resistant types of silicone rubber available on the market!!

Tips on how to make moulds with two basins:

First of all you have to position the object you want to form firmly in your mould (i.e. with wire) so that the parting line is horizontal and that there is a space of more or less 1 cm below the object. Please make sure that the object cannot bloat!

The mould must be absolutely impervious! Pour the compounded silicone rubber until it reaches the parting line.

Leave it for one day. Insolate the parting line with Cancol. Fill the upper layer (top half) with silicone rubber. Leave it for one more day and remove it.

A tip on how to make sure that the two halves of moulds with two basins fit together exactly:

Place some wooden marbles (15mm) on the liquid rubber in the lower part of the mould. Take the marbles out again just after the setting (and of course before pouring the upper part). Thus you’ll have hemispherical cavities in the parting line and later on adequate hemispherical bumps in the upper layer.

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