Adding colours to candles is a great way to make them look nicer. The colour dyes are usually added to the wax and there are different ways to dye candle wax. You will learn how to do so and get best results. And do you know you can dye candle wax naturally using herbs? Well, you are just about to learn how!
Coloured candles have become the norm in our environment. Adding colour to a candle makes it look great and the candles would even be better if you add a matching scent. Most candle waxes (except beeswax) have a creamy white colour which is cool but can be easily altered to suit your taste. Beeswax has a natural golden colour but some come in white and can also be dyed. Candle waxes generally hold colours well and you should have no problem tinting them.
Candle dyes are mixed with the wax and they come in different forms: liquid, chips, blocks and flakes. For each type are special considerations to be made before using them. Candle dyes are very concentrated and you would only need a little to colour your wax. The more you add, the darker the colour of the candles would be. One must not use too much as this can have a negative impact on the candle. Making candles is not strenuous but one must be careful in order to get the best results. I will take you through the ways of dyeing your candle wax in a very simple manner.
Liquid Candle Dyes
All type of candle dyes are concentrated but liquid dye is more concentrated that the rest. For using liquid dyes, one would only need a few drops, depending on the shade of colour you want. This is why they come in droppers. Note that there can be other types of liquid dyes used for other purposes. But you must only search for and buy ones that are specially meant for candle making.
For using them, you need to determine how much wax you want to work with. This in turn determines the amount of dye you need. Digital scales can be used to measure your wax. You may not be able to purchase the exact shade of colour that you want. But the advantage with liquid dyes is that you can achieve the shade you want by adding more or less drops.
Also, when making a large number of candles of the same colour, consistency can easily be achieved with liquid candle dyes. This is because you can just use the same drops for each candle. This is not the case with other types, especially powder dyes. Also liquid dyes work in many types of waxes from the popular paraffin wax to natural waxes such as soy and palm wax. Usually, they produce lighter shades when used with soy wax.
Another advantage liquid dyes have is that you can easily mix two colours together. All these advantages make them the most popular of the other types and they are easy to use as well. Just add desired drops when the candle wax reaches required temperature before you pour the wax.
How to measure your liquid dyes
I have mentioned that the amount you use determines how light or dark the colour would be and also that you need very little. You would only need about 0.005% to 0.15% of dye concentration. Anything less would give you a colour close to white. And anything more would affect your candles negatively.
You might wonder how you would measure the percentage since they are liquid. It is simple. Remember I said the weight of the wax is important? Measure the weight in grams and multiply by the percentage that suits you. The result should be the amount of dye you need in milliliters. This means you would need about 0.05 to 1.5ml per kilogram of wax, which is roughly 2 to 50 drops, depending on how much you want. Pretty easy?
Be careful when using liquid dyes though. Spilling them can be really messy. To avoid spills, seal your dropper (or whatever it is in) when not in use. Also, liquid dyes have a foul odour. Do not worry. This does not affect the smell of the candle in anyway, especially not if you are adding scent oils.
Candle Dye Flakes
These are also known as powdered dyes. Because of their powdery forms, they need to be allowed a little time to dissolve. They should be added to the wax at about 176 to 180°F. Dye flakes do not give the kind of consistency that liquid dyes afford. It is not as easy to get exact proportions in different candles especially when making them in small batches. This is why they are more suitable for large projects where they would be added to the wax at once and used to make several candles. They are also used to make candle chips and blocks.
Dye flakes are very concentrated and just a little would go a long way. Just like liquid dyes too, you add as much or as little as you want based on the colour you want to achieve. The weight of the wax also plays a huge role. For a more consistent colour, especially in making few candles, you would need to measure your flakes as a percentage of the amount of wax you are using, in grams. Anything between 0.1 to 0.25% is okay. Measure your wax in grams and multiply it by desired percentage. The result of this is the amount of grams dye flakes you need. Going by that calculation, a kilogram of wax would need 1 to 2.5 grams of dye flakes.
Dye flakes are very easy to use. Simply add to the wax and stir very well for better bonding.
Candle Dye Chips and Blocks
Dye chips and dye blocks are of the same family. They are made of vegetable wax premixed with powdered dye. They are the easiest to use. Beginners can start with these before moving on to liquid dyes or dye flakes. The main difference between them is that dye chips are smaller less concentrated. Dye blocks are more concentrated and better suited for making large amount of candles. Both come in a variety of shapes: circle, diamond, square, rectangle etc.
To use them, you just have to drop the chip(s) or block(s) into melting wax, more or less for a different shade. And stir very well. They should be added while the wax melts. They are made of wax and need to melt too. These types of dyes need to be stirred well and for a longer moment so that they can dissolve completely before pouring. A kilogram of wax requires only two dye ships for medium colour shade. Just one dye block achieves the same for three kilograms of wax. Unlike, liquid dyes and flakes, no measurement is needed. Just do not use too much.
However, liquid and powdered dyes colour candles brighter than dye chips and blocks. So do not worry if your candles come out less vivid than expected.
If you are using more than one, you can add them in stages. Add the first, then stir. When it dissolves, add the next and so on. This will help you monitor the colour of the candles as well as make your work easier.
Crayons to DYE Candle Wax
The four types of candle dyes above are the best for colouring your candles. There are other methods, which include the use of crayons. Crayons are wax based, cheap and available in several colours and so seem to be a good choice for adding colours to candle wax. But they are not. Crayons are coloured in a different way than candles and the particles used for this are not compatible with wax for candle making. Candles coloured with crayons do not burn well because the particles clog the wick. It is better to not colour your candles at all than use crayons. Do not use crayons to colour your candles. They are just not suited for that purpose. Use dyes made specifically for candle making. They are not expensive and can be gotten easily, even online.
Natural Method to Dye Candle Wax
A less popular, but a good method for colouring candles is the use of herbs. This is the natural way to colour candles. In truth, there are many dyes that are made with herbs whose colours are extracted in the process. You might wonder how to use plants for colouring candles in a way that does not clog the wick.
The trick is to use coffee filter sachets, cheesecloths or a small muslin bag to hold your desired herbs and a string. This functions like a teabag which is then placed in melting wax or oil. It would take several hours (even a whole day) for it to tint the wax so you should heat your wax on low heat, otherwise, it would burn. You can use a crockpot for this. As the process can take really long, stir every couple of hours. Do so when you are making the candles, while the wax is melting. You can also do this with a little wax or oil before the actual candle making process. The tinted wax/oil is then added to the wax you would actually use to make your candles.
The problem with this natural method is inconsistency in colour. So you should only use it to make a couple of candles and not big projects. But they are a great way to colour candles which you should try. The type of herb you use determines the colour you get. Turmeric is popular for this and it gives you yellow to orange colour. For different shades of green, use snapdragons, rosemary, spirulina, parsley, kelp, artichokes etc. and different plant leaves.
For shades of yellow and orange, go for lemon or orange fruits peels, annatto seeds, onion skins, ground lichen etc. Hibiscus, strawberry and cherry fruits, alkanet, paprika, rosehips and so on would give you shades of pink to purple. You can explore various other herbs and fruits for other colours.
I believe you have learnt a lot from this article. Adding colour dyes to your candles should now be easier. Feel free to use any of the methods explained above. But do not use crayons. Use candle dyes or herbs alone to colour your candles. It should be very easy following due process.
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