Best way to make a candle? (Bunch of candle questions)?

Question by Mojo: Best way to make a candle? (Bunch of candle questions)?
1. Are stearic acid and stearin the same thing? Are they important in making the candle brighter? I keep seeing things about vegan, is stearic acid non-vegan? Is any part of candle making non-vegan?

2. Are thermometers really that important? How likely is it that wax is going to burst into flames?

3. Paraffin vs. normal wax? What’s the difference, which is better?

4. Why is gel wax so much more expensive than hard wax? Does gel wax need stearin?

5. Wicks. One book I read said to poke a needle and slide the wick into the already made candle. That seems like it would be REALLY difficult to do. Is it? Wouldn’t it be easier to have the wick in there before hand?

Hopefully someone is brave enough to answer my questions. I know there’s a lot, sorry. 🙂

Best answer:

Answer by Tori
1. No Stearic acid and Stearin are not the same thing. Stearin is a glyceryl ester of stearic acid. (The formula for stearic acid is C18H36O2, or CH3(CH2)16COOH and the formula for stearin is C3H5(C18H35O2)3 + 3 NaOH → C3H5(OH)3 + 3 C17H35COONa) Both can either be made from animal (beef) fat or from some plant waxes. To be vegan, of course, either would need to be the type made from plant wax.

2. Yes, wax can burst into flame if it reaches a certain temperature – that why it burns with the heat of a flame! It can be very dangerous if you aren’t using a thermometer.

3. Paraffin is “normal” wax. It is what most candles are made from unless specifically labeled otherwise. Paraffin wax is a petroleum byproduct (it is made from crude oil) so it releases chemicals and toxins when burned that is similar to burning oil.

There is an increasing trend toward making “green” candles that are made from plant and vegetable waxes which are a renewable resource. The candles made from vegetable and plant waxes also do not release toxic fumes and chemicals like paraffin. If made properly they burn very cleanly without leaving behind any black soot.

4. Gel wax is also a petroleum based byproduct. It is more expensive because it is patented so you pay a fee to the patent holder when you buy it.

5. Most wicks have a disk at the base and you pour your candle around it or set the wick in the mold. To eliminate the possibility of toxins being released from your wicks, don’t use wicks with metal cores – use only 100% cotton.

It takes a lot of time and money to become a good candle maker (lots of experiments and wasted materials before you get it right). If you are doing this to make money, you might want to start by marketing/selling candles as an independent distributor/rep for candle company. You will be able to earn as you learn, plus nobody ever makes any money from making anything until they sell it, so the marketing skills you learn will help a lot if you decide you still want to make your own.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

Basic Candle Making at the Plantation Ag State Park with Lydia White.

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