The wax is one of the two most important elements in candle making, the other being the wick. There are different types of waxes, different types of candles and different ways of making them. Most of the types of candles involve you having to melt wax in some way. The only candle making method that does not require this is making rolled candles, where you just roll wax sheets around the wick. This means that if you want to make candles, you are more likely to melt your wax first before you pour it into your containers or molds. Waxes come in solid form and have to be transformed before they can be used to make candles.
I will be discussing four different ways to melt candles using different materials: a double boiler, microwave, oven or wax melter.
How to Melt Wax with a Double Boiler
This is the most popular method for melting wax. It is also the method used in most candle making guides and one would find more information concerning it. But what is a double boiler exactly? And why should it be used?
A double boiler is made using two pots or pans with one placed in the other. The bottom pot is the one in direct contact with the heat and holds water. A second pot or pan is then placed inside the bottom pot with boiling water. This second pot holds the wax. First, this is done because wax can be flammable and direct contact from the pot holding the wax to the heat source would most likely cause a fire. Another reason is that the method helps the wax to melt evenly especially with the boiling water below it.
There are specially made double boilers that can be purchased. But you can make a custom double boiler yourself using two pots in your kitchen. The pot on top containing the wax is the pouring pot. If you are doing this, then it means that upper pot should be reserved for candle making. This is because it is no longer safe to be used for cooking any longer. The lower pot can still be used for cooking since it only held water.
In using a double boiler, one also needs a heat source. Gas stoves are the most popular at homes and can be used. Electric stoves can also be used for this. But set the heat level to medium. Melting wax does not take long, so you should keep stirring your wax while it melts and constantly watch its temperature (with a thermometer, of course) to make sure it does not go beyond the flashpoint of the wax. Each type of wax has a different flashpoint.
This is the temperature of the wax causes it to become highly flammable. Generally, your melting wax temperature should not exceed 200°F. While the wax melts you can do other things such as setting up your wick in the container or mold. But constantly monitor the wax. It will only melt in a few minutes and even waxes like soy wax with lower melting point would take a shorter time to melt.
In adding scent or colour. You can do so while the wax melts, still in the pot. Or you can turn off the heat, let the wax cool to suitable temperature (usually the flashpoint of the fragrance) if already more than that and then add scent oil as you please.
How to Melt Wax with a Microwave
This process is much easier and safer than using a double boiler. For this, you would need a microwave (obviously), a microwave safe bowl and a pot holder or hand towel.
First, connect your microwave to electricity. Add your required wax into the safe bowl. The safe bowl should be microwaveable. Place it in the microwave, turn up the heat and let your wax melt for, say, five minutes or less, but not more. This is because you need to monitor your wax. So every two minutes, take out the safe bowl, check the temperature of the wax, stir the wax and put it back. Of course, the bowl would be hot. That is why you should use a hand towel or pot holder to remove the bowl.
Add scent and colour dyes only when the wax completely melts and stir thoroughly. After this, you may have to melt your wax for a little time again. This time taking it out every thirty seconds. Always check the temperature when you bring out the safe bowl and know the flashpoint of the wax you are using.
How to Melt Wax in an Oven
This process is also very easy and similar to using a microwave. It is straight to the point. Know the melting point of the wax you are using and heat your oven (without wax) to that level. When it gets to that point, place the wax inside in a safe bowl and let it melt for some minutes. Just like in the previous process, remove the wax every couple of minutes, stir and place it back. When the wax melts add your scent oil and colour dye as desired and you are good to go. That is all with using an oven.
How to Melt Wax Using a Wax Melter
All of the materials mentioned above were not intended to be used for melting wax. But wax melters are equipment specially made for melting wax. Wax melters have an advantage over other methods in that they allow for larger amount of wax to be easily melted. And they are of two major types: direct heat and water jacket.
Direct heat melters are so called because the wax is directly against the surface of the equipment, usually made of aluminium. They can reach heat levels of 500°F and generally hold wax of about 20 to 40 litres. Water jacket melters, on the other hand, function like large double boilers. They are made of stainless steel and are made much bigger than the direct heat type. You should use them if you want to melt wax of more than 40 litres. Wax melters are meant to be operated with electricity.
These melters are very easy to use. Simply add your wax and melt to required heat level. After this, you can add scent and colour before you then pour into the container or mold. As with other methods. It is important that you stir your wax as it melts for even distribution.
Wax melting as you have seen is not difficult. But take necessary safety precautions as you work. You can cover the work area with old newspaper to protect it from wax spills. And avoid hot wax spilling on your body. Monitor your wax constantly; do not just leave it to attend to another business. If you have to leave your wax for any reason, turn off the heat and come back to melt it. Bye!