Hi, candle-loving friends! As you know, the shop is still closed for a while yet but I’m still able to keep in touch and want to continue sharing posts and other fun things while the shop is on hiatus! The other day, I re-posted a gorgeous photo from former rep Kristen (@myfriendsarefiction) and shared some candle care tips and some info about soy candles! I ended up being overly-wordy for Instagram (what else is new, right?) so I thought I’d write up a blog post about it too! Check out some things that I’ve learned and other things I’ve discovered about soy candles and general candle care/maintenance!
WHY SOY WAX?
Soy wax has gained some popularity, especially with US candle-makers and the hand-crafted community, because it is all-natural (oil taken from soy beans) and often grown locally (for US sellers) in the US, most often in the midwest! Soy is also great because it burns cleanly, lasts a long time, and is eco-friendly!
It’s also really easy to clean in case of spills, or if you want to use your container for something else when your candle wax has all burned away! (Hot water and regular soap will clean up soy wax!)
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “100% SOY” AND “ALL-NATURAL SOY”?
All soy wax is “all-natural” (unless blended with another kind of wax that is not a naturally occurring wax) but there is a difference between “100% soy wax” and “all-natural soy wax”. 100% means that the ONLY ingredient in the wax is pure soy, nothing else. “All-natural” means that the selected wax probably contains natural, botanical oils that help with things like a smooth appearance and prevents a little frosting. Both are totally natural, commonly used, and widely popular but do have different meanings! I saw somewhere else where a seller (not in the book community) had said that “100% soy wax” doesn’t exist but I double checked with my supplier and they definitely sell a “100%” wax! They have many different brands and variations available for purchase but only one 100% soy wax so it may be less common, but it definitely does exist! By the time a candle-maker has this kind of wording on their label, they probably have done their homework and know what they’re marketing but if you ever have a question, I’m sure you can reach out and check! When it comes to legitimacy, both 100% and all-natural soy waxes are perfect for any soy candles sold in containers (like jars or tins — there’s a whole different line of soy waxes for pillar candles since soy wax has a low melting temp)!
The other differences between 100% and all-natural soy waxes are pouring temperatures, maximum fragrance potential (only by a 2% difference, so really not too much), and different melting points. Candle manufacturers usually select the different waxes based on what they want their final product to be/look like since things like melting point (which can also be looked at from the flip side as a cooling point) and how the wax settles within a container for a smoother side/top.
ARE ALL SOY WAX CANDLES KOSHER?
Soy wax is vegetable wax and is a confirmed kosher product. As long as the wax (whether 100% or all-natural with those botanical oils) isn’t adulterated by other items, soy wax is a kosher product. I was able to confirm from my fragrance suppliers that the fragrances that I use are kosher as well but my dye supplier couldn’t confirm if the dyes were kosher as well. This doesn’t mean that candles with dye aren’t kosher but my vendor gets the dye from another supplier and they weren’t able to confirm to me whether the dyes were kosher or not, so I don’t currently market my candles as kosher BUT any candle that I do sell without a dye (any candles that are white in color) are confirmed kosher products!
FRAGRANCES | HOT VS COLD THROW + CANDLE NOTES
“Hot throw” and “cold throw” are commonly used terms to describe the fragrances and strengths of a candle . A “hot throw” is the fragrance and strength when the candle is lit. The “cold throw” is the fragrance and strength when the candle is unlit. A candle may have a stronger cold throw than hot throw or vice versa. Sometimes fragrances perform a bit differently in the cold throw vs hot throw. Cold & hot throws usually have the same fragrance profile but some scents may come out stronger while burning than while unlit. This is a possibility with some soy wax and sometimes based on the selected fragrance combination.
Anyone who uses fragrances will usually refer to different “notes” of their product, often times referring to top, middle, and bottom notes. Top notes are the scents that come out the most when you smell a candle are are usually the stronger or sharper scents, which is why your nose picks up on them first. Middle notes are identifiable after those top notes and give a little “heart” to the fragrance (which is why they’re also called heart notes). The bottom (or base) notes are the more subtle scents that tend to blend more or aren’t at strong as the top and middle notes. Bottom notes in candles tend to add to an overall feel of a candle rather than being a distinctly identifiable fragrance in itself so if you ever see a scent included in your candle description that you can’t really smell on its own, try to pull it out of that overall feel that it adds to your candle instead of the scent itself! It may be a base note!
For example: Pretty much any time I use a “snow” scent, that’s a bottom note in my candles. It’s a very soft and earthy scent and adds to the overall feel of a candle rather than a customer being able to say “Oh, I smell the snow!” The Queen of Terrasen candle is a great example of picking out these notes! Pine is a very strong scent and that’s easily identifiable and will be one of the first scents someone notices. The lavender in the candle will be identifiable as a middle note because it adds to the candle but doesn’t overpower. The snow, although it’s the second fragrance in the candle in terms of quantity used, will follow as a bottom/base note, softening up that pine and lavender to give the Queen of Terrasen candle a softer feel and not so strong and overpowering with big scents like pine and lavender!
SOY CANDLE IMPERFECTIONS HAPPEN!
“Frosting” refers to little crystal-like structures that you see on soy wax candles on occasion. Frosting usually occurs during the cooling process or as a result of other things added to the wax (like dye), and can even result from just the wax itself and how it cools. Frosting is a natural occurrence in soy candles, especially with 100% soy wax (which is why some shops choose that “all-natural” wax that contains natural botanical oils that help combat some of that frosting). If you see any frosting on your candles, don’t worry! It’s totally natural and common in soy candles and won’t affect your burn or fragrance. Most of the time it’s from the way the wax melts and resets as it cools.
Frosting and/or discoloration may also occur after burning a candle, especially with darker colored dyes. It all has to do with the way things heat up and then cool down again. It’s all natural with soy wax!
Tins and jars can get warm when burning for an extended period of time. Keep your candle on a heat-resistant surface and away from kids/pets/flammable objects! The tins that I use for my candles have little feet on the bottom to help avoid some direct heat from whatever table/counter/mantle you may have it on BUT if you burn for multiple hours, the tins still do get hot! I like to put candles on a coaster (marble, tile, ceramic, etc) if I know I’m burning for an extended period of time, just in case! My personal advice… please do not burn candles in your bookcases! If you’re using them for a photo, we as candle-makers will of course always advise caution but leaving a candle burning in/on your shelves is extremely dangerous (wood, paper… you know) and especially candles without feet may damage that wood underneath, or heat given off from the candle may damage the shelves up above!
GIVE YOUR CANDLE TIME TO BURN!
Always allow wax to fully melt/pool to the outer edges (usually 3-4 hours on larger candles, at least two hours on smaller candles) before blowing it out! Extinguishing too soon causes wax to tunnel (burn straight down) and then you’re missing out on so much candle! If you’re super quick with that Instagram photo and it’s only burning for a few minutes, that probably won’t cause tunneling but burning for only an hour at a time may start to set a pattern for your wax that you can’t get out of!
KEEP YOUR WICK TRIMMED!
I actually didn’t learn about this concept until I started making candles myself a couple years ago but it’s actually super important! Keeping your wick trimmed prevents all of that extra soot from flying around and sticking to the sides of your tin/jar. If your flame is dancing a lot, gets super tall, or forms a “mushroom” on the top, it’s best to blow out your candle, trim the wick, and relight. It’s also dangerous when flames get super tall (even though it looks kinda cool), especially if you’re burning near other objects. If you’re worried about tunneling, just blow out your candle, trim that wick really quickly, and light it back up so the wax doesn’t even cool! Wicks should be kept at around 1/4″ for best possible burning!
HAVING TROUBLE FILLING A ROOM?
Sometimes large rooms/open floor plans (like my house) make it hard for candles to fill a whole space. Try keeping your candles in smaller rooms of the house like a bedroom or room with a door that you can close and keep that scent in! If you have wide open spaces, you may want to opt for a larger candle or a second candle to get the maximum fragrance! Keep in mine that smaller sizes like 2oz, 4oz, and tealights may not fill your desired space, although some surprisingly will! I wouldn’t count on those smaller sizes being able to fill up a room. Also remember that noses can get used to smells! If you’ve had a candle lit for a long time and you’ve lost the scent, leave the room for a bit and come back. If there’s a door to your room, close the door too and trap the scent in there before you come back in!