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What is Palm Wax?
Palm wax belongs to a group of waxes called vegetable wax. These vegetable waxes are made purely from a plant extract. Examples are Soy wax (from soybean oil) and Bayberry wax (from the bayberry plant). One cannot discuss vegetable waxes without mentioning paraffin wax. This is because they are relatively new types of wax, developed to rival Paraffin wax. Paraffin wax is by far the most popular type of wax for candle making and even other non-candle making crafts. But since paraffin wax is made from a petroleum by-product, there are concerns about paraffin wax candles releasing toxins into the air and many have labelled paraffin wax harmful to the environment and to human health. Then came vegetable waxes. These types of waxes are completely natural, not known to release harmful toxins when burned and are considered safe. Though paraffin wax still leads other types of waxes by far, concerned people have started moving towards vegetable waxes.
Palm wax is gotten from Oil Palm trees from Asian countries like Malaysia and Indonesia and more recently, West Africa and South America. That is, unlike paraffin wax, palm wax is a renewable source. That is because more palm trees can be grown to make more wax and other products too. But there have been concerns about deforestation, felling of other trees to grow Oil Palm trees. That is why most recently, suppliers prefer palm wax from countries like Colombia and Brazil where producers use sustainable Agricultural methods.
Melting Point of Palm Wax
In terms of its features now, palm wax is an odourless, hard wax with a high melting point (140°F). That is not the highest of all waxes but it means palm wax has a higher temperature than soy wax (its major vegetable wax rival) and low-density paraffin wax. That is what makes palm wax reach high levels of heat before melting and therefore candles made with it last longer. Even though paraffin wax is still the most popular of all waxes and soy wax is the most popular of vegetable waxes, palm wax has incredible qualities that should make you consider it if you are not already using it.
Benefits of Palm Wax
Just the fact that palm wax is natural is enough advantage. It is not known to release harmful toxins into the air and palm wax candles are safe to use. So, people with asthma or other respiratory issues that are trying to avoid paraffin wax would find a good alternative in palm wax.
Though most palm wax candles are container candles, you can actually use it to make any type of candle: container candles, standalone candles (pillar and tapers), votive candles etc. Soy wax is more popular but it is too soft to be used to make a standalone candle (unless it is blended with another type of wax or additives are added). Palm wax beats it in this respect.
3. Clean Burn
The type of wax used to make a candle is part of what determines the amount of soot (black residue) that it would release when burned. All types of waxes produce soot no matter how little. But palm wax releases significantly less amount of soot compared to its main rivals: paraffin wax and soy wax.
4. Long Lasting
Palm wax is hard and has a high melting point. This makes candles made with it burn slower and last longer than some other types of wax, especially soy wax.
How to Make Palm Wax Candles
I have mentioned that palm wax is versatile and can be used for any type of candle. But palm wax is mostly used to make container candles. And that is the method adopted in this guide. The first step would be selecting a container. Mason glass jars are good for this or whatever glass jar you have, as far as it is thick enough to withstand high levels of heat.
And apart from the Palm wax, other materials you would need are:
- Wicks (pre-tabbed wicks are better or with separate tabs)
- Wick stickers or Hot Glue
- Double Boiler
- A stove, for heat
- Fragrance Oil (optional)
- Candle Dye (optional)
- Oven or Heat gun
- Cleaning Materials: paper towels, rag, etc.
Calculate the amount of wax you need and melt it in a double boiler. Be sure to check it constantly with the thermometer. Attach your wick to the bottom of the container too using a wick sticker, hot glue or by dipping the end of the wick into the melting wax.
Once the temperature of the melting palm wax is between 180-210°F, then it is time to add your fragrance oil and candle dye (if you wish). Stir it all together so it can blend well. If you like too, you can add the fragrance just when the wax melts fully and you turn off the heat. It is recommended that you use just ½ to 1 oz of fragrance oil per pound of palm wax but follow the instructions that come with it.
Before pouring also, preheat the glass jar to about 110°F in an oven or with a heat gun so that when the wax is poured into it, it would cool more slowly. This should only take a few minutes
Leave the melted palm wax to cool to about 190 -200°F before pouring. And the wax should be poured in the container carefully.
Let the wax cool completely at room temperature before you use it. This would take several hours or you may leave it overnight. When it is cool, trim the wick to ¼ an inch and you can enjoy your candles.
For the best burn of your candle, make sure it burns completely to the edges of the container, having a full melt pool. This is called a ‘memory burn’ and would prevent some problems that occur in candle burning from occurring such as tunnelling and low scent throw.