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Candle additives are not compulsory in candle making, but are necessary. The only additives most people know are scent oils and candle dyes. But we have more than this. This article is dedicated to explaining candle making additives (apart from scent oils and dyes), what they are used for and how to use them correctly.
The purpose of additives in candle making is to change the performance and/or look of candles. Of course, they are to make candles better. Though candles can be made without them, but additives have such great advantages that one needs about one or two, depending on the results desired. And the candle additives can be easily purchased online.
Stearin (or Stearic Acid)
This is probably the most popular additive in candle making. It is mostly added to paraffin wax. It is a mixture of some fatty candle additives and serves many functions when used to make candles some of which are:
- When used in making pillar candles, stearin makes the candle shrink so that it would be easier to be released from the mold when it is has cooled. That is, stearin itself serves as a release agent.
- Stearin is used to make harder candles. This is especially important for pillar candles too. They need rigidity to stand alone. And adding a little stearin to some soft waxes gives them the rigidity for pillar candles.
- It causes candle to burn longer.
- Stearin also affects colouring. It can be added to wax to produce more vibrant colours. Besides, when using powdered candle dye, adding stearin to it ensures that the colour disperses evenly throughout the candle.
However, with all these wonderful qualities, only a little stearin is needed in candle making. Using too much would affect your work. Add three teaspoons per pound of wax. For colouring, mix stearin with the dye before adding wax.
This is a popular and more recent alternative to stearin. It is gotten from polymer. One disadvantage of stearin is that it cannot be used in latex molds, but vybar can. Vybar is used for almost the same purposes as stearin, with a few more.
- It is used in scented candles. It acts as a binding agent that makes fragrance oil bind well with the wax. But the candle would not scent well, or at all if you use too much. So, used in correct proportion, vybar gives the candle better scent throw.
- Vybar is also used to eliminate and reduce appearance of air bubbles candle making.
- Also, vybar is of different types based on the type of candle you are making. Vybar 103 is for standalone candles like pillar and taper candles since it works well with high melt point paraffin wax. Vybar 260 should be used with low melt point paraffin wax which are meant for making container candles. The two above are most common but Vybar 343 is a new type. It is mainly for molting.
You would need very little, less than a teaspoon, for each pound of wax. To find the right amount, you may have to do some trial and error.
UV Light Inhibitor
This is also known by several names: UV stabiliser, UV absorbent, etc. It is used in coloured candles. When a candle is coloured, the colour would fade as time goes on due to UV rays from sunlight. This tends to affect some colours than others. Even in some uncoloured candles, their white colour tends to turn yellow because of this. This is where UV light inhibitor comes in. It is used to make your candle last longer without fading. It may not be able to completely eliminate fading but you would enjoy the vibrant colour of your candles for much longer.
In any case, even candles containing UV light inhibitor should not be exposed to direct sunlight. Sunlight is the culprit in the fading and your UV inhibitor would be helpless in that cases. Use a teaspoon or less for each pound of wax and add when the wax is about 185°F.
This is also known as petroleum jelly. When added to wax, it gives the wax a creamy look, making it softer by increasing its oil content. Of what use is this? The result of this softer wax is that it would adhere well to the sides of the container.
When too much is used, the candle would not burn cleanly as it would produce soot. There is no specific recommended amount for adding the wax. You have to test a few times to know the amount you would need. It would usually range between 5 to 30%. But start lower when testing.
This additive is also gotten from crude oil and is a close relative of paraffin wax and petrolatum. Their uses in candle making is different based on the two main types: hard and soft.
Hard microcrystalline wax has a melting point between 170 to 180°F. It is used to harden wax and extend the burn time of candles. It can be used in making different types of candles including dipped taper candles.
Soft microcrystalline wax, on the other hand, has a lower melting point (150 to 160°F). This soft type serves more like petrolatum by making the wax adhere better to the sides of the container.
Add 1 to 10% of microcrystalline to your wax for good results.
This less popular wax additive is also known as vegetable shortening. This is most common in cooking nowadays but was originally produced as a candle making additive. It is used to balance the tendency of paraffin wax to expand and contract when hot and when cool respectively. This makes it effective in reducing the chances of having wet spots, especially in container candles. It also affects scent throw, causing it to last longer. Using 1 or 2 ounces per pound of wax should be okay for most uses.
Universal Candle Additives
Universal additives are usually mixtures produced by companies to serve various functions. Note that there is no perfect additive in this category, that addresses every problem. So do not go rushing to buy universal candle additives. Usually, the manufacturer would label on their product the functions each one performs. The main purpose of universal additives is to get advantages which you would not normally get with a single additive.