Paraffin wax has no smell and no taste and is generally pale yellow to white and opaque. The liquid form is mineral oil. Both wax and oil are a petroleum-based hydrocarbon. Paraffin wax is one of the easier waxes to use to make candles. The wax does not stick to the mold and is easy to sculpt. Wax is melted in a double boiler. Melting points are anywhere from 104 to 160 degrees F. Jar candles are made from wax with the melting point of about 140 degrees because the wax is still hot and will not hold up well by itself. Molded candles need a melting point of about 145 to 150 degrees.
Types of Paraffin and Additives
Paraffin wax comes in sheets, blocks, bars and pellets. Candle making paraffin is often mixed with stearin to make the candles burn slower and give a gloss to the surface of the candle. Color is often added to paraffin and is either powder or encapsulated by wax and is melted along with the paraffin. Scent is often added to paraffin to make candles smell good.
The Melting Point
The melting point is the primary determinant of the type of candle you can make with it.
- Low melt point paraffin (less than 130F) is used for container candles in jars, cups or glasses
- Medium melt point paraffin (130F-150F) is used for candles that need to stand on their own – votives, pillars, and other molded candles
- High melt point wax (greater than 150F) is used for more special applications like hurricane candle shells,overdipping, and other special candle making applications
Pros of Using Paraffin
- Paraffin wax is cheaper than other waxes, especially beeswax.
- It is readily available at all craft stores.
- It is easy to use even for the beginner candle maker.
Cons of Using Paraffin
- Paraffin has no scent or color so it has to be added if desired.
- It burns a little faster than beeswax and the candles made will not last long unless a retardant is added to the paraffin.
- Paraffin has a flashpoint. If the temperatures go too high the wax could catch on fire.
- There is some evidence that vapors released when making paraffin from the crude oil can cause cancer.