Making Palm Wax Candles – 7 Things You Must Know!
Have you made candles before but are now thinking about making palm wax candles? There are a few things you need to know before you start. This information will help you to make a safe and quality candle.
1. AIR HOLES Whether you are making pillar or jar candles, you must ALWAYS poke for air holes during the cooling process. When palm wax cools it forms a layer on top while the middle is still liquid. Air is usually trapped in that liquid and it makes bubbles in the wax. Those air bubbles form around the wick or wick pin (if you are making pillars). Those air pockets can cause problems when the candle is burning. When the melt pool reaches down to one of those pockets, the melted wax drains into the pocket and exposes more of the wick. If you have a large pocket and it drains all of the melted wax, your burning wick will be out of control. The candle is burning fine one minute and you leave the room only to come back to a huge flame. I am not saying that every palm wax candle you make will have bubbles, but it is not worth taking the chance. You must poke holes when a top layer has formed and the wax is starting to get cloudy. Timing is everything in this process. You do not want to wait too long to poke holes. It does not matter what you use to poke the holes as long as you mix the juicy slush enough to be sure all bubbles have risen to the surface. Poking holes in the wax is a time-consuming process, especially when you are making hundreds of candles. I believe that this is one of the reasons why you do not see palm wax candles being made by the large candle companies.
2. CURE TIME I have tested several hundred fragrance oils from over 30 different manufacturers/distributors. I can tell you that if a fragrance oil is going to have a good hot throw when lit, it will usually have a good cold throw. If you cannot smell any cold throw after 24 hours, chances are pretty good that it is not going to have much hot throw. I have never experienced any improvement in fragrance by waiting days or weeks. Remember this is not soy wax. This big difference with palm wax compared to other waxes is that it will get noticeably harder over time. Do a test and you will see. Make three candles without fragrance oil or dye. Make candle #1 and let it sit two weeks. After two weeks, make candle #2. Wait another 2 weeks and make candle #3. When candle #3 is totally cooled, burn all three with the same type/size wick and you will see the difference. This is very important to know because if you wick the candle without taking the curing process into consideration, you will surely wick it too small. I believe that a month after making is a good time to start trying to figure out the perfect wick size. There is nothing wrong with making a candle and burning it right away. You just won’t get the longest burn time that you could have if you let it cure. If I am testing a particular fragrance, I do burn the candle right away. If the fragrance is OK, then I make more test candles to cure so I can get it wicked properly. There is no sense in waiting a month to let the candle cure if the fragrance is not what you are looking for.
3. COOL DOWN How you cool your candles is also something that is important to making beautiful palm wax candles. The slower you cool the wax after pouring, the better the crystalline design your candle will have. I would recommend testing on this issue. You can get a beautiful design without doing anything. You can pour your wax into a room temperature jar or mold and get a nice results. I would try heating the jar and molds and see if it looks better to you. Also, you could cover your jars and molds to hold the heat in. Put something insulated under your candle (like a thick book or magazine) because it will help with even cooling. Your final product will show if it had uneven cooling. It really is a matter of how much attention you want to pay in trying to get the best crystallization on your candles. Just so you know-if you pour melted palm wax into a cold or frozen jar/mold, you will not have any crystallization at all. It will look like soy wax.
4. FRAGRANCE OILS Be prepared for the fact that some fragrance oils will not work in palm wax. I fairly good rule of thumb is that if it works in soy, it will work in palm. Many places that sell fragrance oils usually state whether they are compatible with soy. For every 10-15 fragrance oils you test, be prepared to have maybe one that works great. Again, this is my opinion and what has been my experience. You might experience something different. Be prepared to test and test. You will know when you have a winner. Your candle will smell awesome! I would start with 1 oz. of fragrance oil per 16 oz (1 pound) of wax. I wouldn’t worry about getting a digital scale so you can measure 1 oz (weight) of fragrance oil. Just get a shot glass and measure 1 oz. (volume). It will vary with the actual weight of the oil but not enough to worry about. If the candle smells great and performs good, go with it. Palm wax has the ability to hold more oil. If you plan on making large amounts of candles, then I would consider getting a scale and doing it the other way.
5. BURN CHARACTERISTICS Palm wax is a hard and brittle wax. It does not get soft and bendable when heated like paraffin wax. If you dropped a palm pillar on the ground it would dent and crumble. Let me save you money and time trying to find the perfect wick to burn in your candles. Wedo is a company from Germany that makes wicks just for palm wax. The CSN series wicks can be purchased at several places online. Palm wax is tough on wicks and will reduce a good flame to almost nothing within an hour. I have boxes full of wicks that were suppose to be the best and “work great with palm”. Go with the CSN line. They really allow for a clean burn that is almost required from an all natural wax. Remember that wicks in palm wax burn down then outward. Palm pillar candles pose an interesting challenge. Making a self consuming palm wax candle is even harder. Wick too small and it tunnels and barely burns half the wax or if you wick too large it blows out the side and wax goes everywhere. Let’s assume you wick it to have a melt pool a quarter of an inch from the edge, you are relying on everything being perfect. You can’t control whether the person will burn the candle for 10 minutes or 10 hours. Will the candle be level? Will there be a breeze? What if the wick is never trimmed? All of these factors can change the way a candle burns even if you have it wicked properly. Factors like these can make a precisely wicked pillar candle into a candle that has a blow through after only a few hours. Also remember tunneling flames are not attractive in a thick diameter candle. The candle will not glow and you will hardly notice the candle is lit unless standing over it. Bottom line you have to wick the pillar with reasonable consideration for variations in burning. Most people light candles and forget about them until they blow them out. Just a thought.
6. MIXING WAXES Combining other waxes with palm wax can create some interesting results. Remember that the more you add other waxes to palm it will reduce the crystallization accordingly. If you are going to attempt mixing enough wax to eliminate poking holes, I would make enough test candles to really see and be confident that the air pockets are eliminated. I would cut the candle length wise along the wick.
7. FURTHER INFORMATION One of the most important things when making candles is to remember that any changes you make can alter how a candle performs when burning. Adding or changing the amount of fragrance oils, dyes or additives can have noticeable differences when burning. Always take notes! You will never remember everything. Palm wax is my favorite wax because of its performance. It can be a headache working with it, but in my opinion, it is worth it. Hey, if everybody was doing it, it wouldn’t be fun. Happy testing.