Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Preparing for Soy Candle Making

If you remember a while back, I promised a soy candle making tutorial.  Well, I have taken my time to really find the most efficient and earth friendly way to present this overwhelming amount of information.  In fact, I find it so overwhelming that I will be presenting this tutorial in a 2-part blog.  In order to incorporate your upcycled elements you will have to do a bit of work to gather your supplies so I thought that I would start there.

Pure soy candles have a very low melting point.  That means that, unlike paraffin, the entire top of your candle becomes a pool of melted wax when the wick is burning.  For this reason, pure soy candles need to be housed in a container.  This is the fun part! 

Start collecting glass containers from anywhere you can find.  In the picture to the right you'll see that I have a B&M baked bean jar, sake cups, water goblets and some miscellaneous heart shaped containers.  Most of these were yard sale items and many mismatched pieces that wouldn't find much use elsewhere.  A word of caution when selecting your containers:  If you pick clear glass, I recommend selecting glass that is textured.  Why? Wet spots will happen, even in soy candles sold in retail stores.  Don't worry, there is nothing wrong with your candle and it isn't actually wet, it will just look like the wax didn't ever dry in one spot.  It isn't very pretty and it will bug you, the texture disguises it.

You'll also want to start collecting containers for mixing and melting your wax.  Soy wax is super easy to melt in the microwave....yes, the microwave!  So hit the thrift shops and yard sales in pursuit of large glass measuring cups.  You can not only melt your wax in these but they are easy to pour from as well.  Plastic will start to deform as it holds that hot liquid so definitely stick with the glass.

I found it easiest (after trying many different methods) to melt all of my wax in one container and then pour it and any essential oils in separate containers.  The containers that I chose were upcycled as well.  I saved coffee cans and other large tin food containers.  Be very careful that you take a minute to file down the sharp point that is formed at the location where you snapped the lid off.  It is really sharp and you'll feel it when you're cleaning up.  The cans are also really easy to tap with a hammer to form a pouring spout, kind of like the one on the coffee can to the left.

What else will you need?  Here's a list:
1.  Soy wax - here is my two cents.  If you're going to spend the money on soy, go 100% pure soy.  Soy blends will allow you to make pillars and such but it is not as natural as it could be and look what happened to my experimental batch (it's called frosting, but your candle tops should be smooth as a babies bottom!):

I would also encourage you to really think about the amount of wax you will need.  I bought a 2 pound bag at the craft store for $10 and that was for the blend.  I bought 50 pounds of 100% pure soy wax online and (including the $25 dollar shipping fee) only ended up paying $2 per pound. 
2.  A digital scale.  Yes you need it, I fought it and regretted it!
3.  A thermometer.  Save your money and just buy a regular kitchen thermometer no need for a specialized candle making one.  Your wax shouldn't get much above 150 degrees.
4.  Fragrance and color if you choose to use either of them.
5.  And don't forget your wicks!  Opt for the all cotton wicks for a clean burn.  Remember a lot of those metal cores have lead in them.

So there you have it, your shopping list.  Start gathering your supplies and meet me back here for part 2 this weekend and we'll get those candles burnin'.

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