With many types of candle wax in the market, it can be confusing to settle for one. Each type of wax has its own special characteristics, with advantages and disadvantages. The type of wax you will eventually choose for your project depends on a lot of things like budget, adding additives, ease of work and so on. Also, some types of wax are more suitable for making a particular kind of candle. So one must be careful. But candle making at home should be fun anyway; you can try out different types of candle wax as you please.
There are two broad categories of candle wax: mineral wax and vegetable wax. Mineral waxes are gotten from paraffin. They are easier to work with and more popular. Vegetable waxes, on the other hand, are natural and are suitable options because they are eco-friendly. Examples of vegetable wax are soy wax, palm wax, coconut wax etc.
Paraffin wax is probably what most people think of as ‘wax’. This is especially true of those who do not know there are other types. And it is not their fault. Paraffin wax is by far the most popular of all types of wax. It is readily available and very versatile as it can be used to make container candles and standalone candles (pillar candles). It is gotten from refined crude oil (petroleum). It is odorless and is pale white in colour. It is usually packaged and sold in small slabs and pellet form.
Based on their melting points, there are predominantly two types of paraffin wax: low melt point wax and high melt point wax. The melting point of the former is less than 130 degrees Fahrenheit. It is suitable for making container candles (using glass jars and tins) and tealight candles. For the later, its melting point is 130 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit. This type is usually harder and suitable for standalone pillar candles and votives.
- Paraffin wax is the most popular type of wax because of its easy availability. They are easy to get both offline and online.
- It is also the cheapest kind of wax. You can compare the prices with other types. Therefore, if you are making your candles on a modest budget, consider paraffin wax.
- Paraffin wax popularity sure gives it an edge over other types of wax in that there are a lot more resources for it than for other types. The most information one will find online is based on paraffin wax. In fact, many candle making additives (fragrances and dyes) were made for use with paraffin wax.
- It is very easy to work with. Most people do not need any additional special instructions. As such, it is recommended for use for candle making beginners.
- Fragrance and dyes work well with paraffin wax. It holds both very well and disperses fragrance more effectively. One can easily make coloured candles to decorate the home with paraffin wax.
- It is not natural as it is gotten from refined petroleum.
- Because it is gotten from refined petroleum, this means it is toxic. Paraffin wax is composed of toxic ingredients and pollutes the home. This means it cannot be used by or around people with respiratory problems or certain allergies. This unsafe nature of the wax has made people look for natural alternatives.
- Paraffin wax leaves residue (black soot) around where it is used and this can be unsightly. Candles are mostly meant to be used as decorations. So when you have a wax that stains the containers and other surfaces black, the original purpose of decoration is defeated.
Paraffin wax has left many worried about its toxic nature. Hence, a lot of people now opt for an all-natural alternative, soy wax. This wax, gotten from soybean oil, is relatively new, only invented in the 1990s. It has a lower melting point than paraffin wax and other types of candle wax. This means it also burns cooler. Its melting point is about 120 - 180 degrees Fahrenheit. It is a very economical choice as it burns longer than paraffin wax. It is more suitable for making container candles but can be used to make pillar candles too.
Soy wax is sold mostly in pellet form and its pricing is similar to that of paraffin wax, though the latter is cheaper. Paraffin wax and soy wax are the most popular types of wax. Soy wax also burns cleanly and it is a good choice for most people, especially those opposed to paraffin wax. Soy wax is also very effective for those who want to blend waxes together. For example, paraffin – soy wax blends have become common. It can also be blended with palm wax.
- It is a completely natural type of wax. This excludes, of course, cases when it is blended with another type of wax, such as paraffin wax.
- It is gotten from soybean oil and can be easily produced in large quantity. This is unlike beeswax, which you will learn about next.
- It is very cheap. This, plus its non-toxic nature, is one of the reasons soy wax is an effective competitor against paraffin wax in the market. They are both about the cheapest kinds of wax you will find.
- It burns evenly and produces little soot.
- When spilled, soy wax can be easily cleaned off surfaces with soap and warm water.
- Soy wax has a low melting point. This means candles made with it can easily melt in hot weather.
- It does not throw off fragrances as well as paraffin wax.
- It needs to be preserved. If not, it will spoil. You have to take note of this. Without preservatives, you should probably only buy soy wax when you are ready to use it.
Beeswax is another type of natural wax, gotten from the honeycombs of bees. It is the oldest known type of wax. Unlike the first two types, whose colours a somewhat white, beeswax has a golden colour. This means that there is no real need for dyes to be added; its colour is naturally beautiful. Adding fragrances is also redundant as it also has a natural scent of honey.
It also burns bright and clean, with little smoke. Beeswax is one of the best types of wax you will find. Perhaps the best feature of beeswax is its ability to purify the air around the candle instead of polluting it. As it burns, it produces negative ions that draw pollutants from the air around. Beeswax has a high melting point, around 145 degrees Fahrenheit and also burns longer.
- It is all-natural and does not pollute the air. It purifies it instead. It is eco-friendly.
- Unlike soy wax, beeswax never goes bad. You can keep it at home as long as you like until you are ready to use it.
- Its high melting point means beeswax candles take longer to burn than other types of wax.
- It has a natural scent and a natural golden colour. You have no real need for fragrances and dyes when making your candles with it.
- It burns brightly and produces little smoke.
- Beeswax is not easy to get. It takes about 5 pounds of honey for bees to produce just one pound of wax. This, in turn, makes it very rare.
- As a result of its rarity, beeswax is also very costly. Though effective, it is the most expensive type of wax. This discourages many from using it.
- It is highly flammable. One needs to be extra careful when working with it and also when using beeswax candles.
This is another natural type of wax. It is usually gotten from Oil Palm trees. It has a natural yellow-brown colour. It can be used to make either container of pillar candles. It is the hardest of all natural candles. This means it provides rigidity necessary for making pillar candles. Also, it can be blended with soy wax for extra hardness while still being all natural. Its melting point is around 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This is higher than that of all other natural waxes.
Though priced above paraffin wax, it is not very expensive (far less compared to beeswax). One will usually found it sold in flakes. Candles made with palm wax burn well and last long. Palm wax has been gaining popularity among candle makers in recent times. It can be blended with beeswax; this makes the candle (especially pillar candles) look glossy when ready.
- Being a natural wax, it is very eco-friendly and non-toxic.
- Just like beeswax, its high melting point means it will not melt in hot conditions (unlike soy wax).
- Palm wax is easy to work with. One can easily use it to produce different surface patterns.
- It is gotten from Oil Palm trees. This means that there is danger of deforestation in cutting down the trees to make different things (including wax)
Coconut wax is another natural type of wax and is gotten from coconut oil. Mostly, what is called coconut wax is a blend of coconut oil with other natural waxes. Its melting point is between 75 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This low melting point means it will likely melt on its own in hot weather. It burns evenly and slowly. It is also known to throw scent well. It is also a very eco-friendly type of wax. However, it is only suitable for use in making container candles as it is very soft.
- By burning slowly, candles made with coconut wax last longer
- It is an all-natural alternative and very eco-friendly.
- It throws scent effectively.
- It is very expensive (not as beeswax though) and hard to get.
- It is not suitable for use in hot weather because of its low melting point.
- It cannot be used to make pillar candles.
Gel Wax is not actually a wax. It is made of mineral oil gotten from paraffin and poly resins. It is a new alternative as it came in only in the 20th century. It is the kind of wax to have fun with. It holds fragrance well and can also be easily decorated. Different materials can be suspended in it for effect and you can also add glitter. Gel wax is particularly beautiful because of its transparent look which is maintained even when you add colour to it.
As it is a very soft kind of wax, it is only suitable for use in container candles. There are varying degrees of density when working with gel wax. The low density does not allow for much scent to be added and is suitable for use by beginners. Medium density gel wax is thicker and holds more fragrance. The high-density one allows for large amount of scent. Gel wax candles burn well and longer. Since today’s candles are mostly meant for decoration, gel wax is the ultimate to fulfill this purpose.
- Gel wax is fun to work with. You can add a lot of decorative materials that will make your candles a lot more beautiful.
- It provides for longer burn. It burns for a much longer time than other waxes such as paraffin and soy. It is an economical choice.
- It is not expensive. This makes it a good option if your budget is small.
- Mineral oil gotten from paraffin is part of its composition. This means that, like paraffin wax, it is toxic as it emits air pollutants.
- Gel wax is not very easy to work with, especially for beginners. It takes a lot of practice.
- It also burns at a higher temperature. Gel wax has been known to burn so high that the containers explode. One has to be really careful working with gel wax.
- It is only suitable for use in making container candles and not pillar candles because it is very soft. One needs to be careful when choosing fragrance oils as not all fragrance oils are compatible with gel wax.
This is a natural type of wax, gotten by burning the berries gotten from bayberry bushes. It has a natural green colour and natural scent too. Its melting point is between 115 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it is not very easy to get. It takes more than 10 pounds of berries just to make a pound wax. This contributes to its high cost, a turn-off for many. It is hard and has a brittle surface. Its hardness makes it suitable for making both pillar and container candles.
- It has a natural scent and colour. This means you are good to go even without additives.
- It can be used to make either pillar or container candles.
- While bayberry wax is known to be hard, its brittle surface means it can break very easily.
- It is difficult to get and therefore, very expensive.
- All types of waxes listed above are all good choices, depending on what you want (or do not want). You can also work with different types to find the one that suits you best. With this guide, you should not be confused about the type of wax you need for your candles any longer.