Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wicking A Soy Candle

Many think that Candle making is as easy as just pourng wax into a container! Well, it is that easy, after the Candle Maker has undergone extensive wick testing to determine if the wicks used will result in Proper burns! So what is a proper burn?

1. The Melt Pool reaches the edges of the container. No tunneling is left with unmelted wax left on the container edges. (this is achevied within a certain time frame for best scent throw and burn results. How would a candle maker know this, if they never test their wick choices?) Many things change the way a candle burns, i.e Fragrance Oil, Colorants, Climate, and initial burn time.

2. Candle burns at a rate of about 5-8oz hour. Depending on Candle size & scent throw - Soy wax is able to burn longer than paraffin. This gives Soy an average burn time of 8 hours per ounce. If your wick choice is too large (even though you are getting a full melt pool) your candle will burn at a much faster rate than this.

3. Initial Burn time. Candles must be allowed to burn properly. A good rule of thumb would be to allow for each inch of diameter, an hour of burn time for the initial burn. If your candle is 2.5" in diameter, you should allow a minimum of 2.5 hours for a full burn pool to accumulate. Sometimes 4 hours is suggested but no more. If you burn your candle for 4 hours, and your burn pool has not reached the edges, the wick is too small. If your burn pool has reached the edges within the 2.5 hours (for 2.5" jar) and the pool is more than 1/2" deep. the wick is too large. An ideal wick will have a full burn pool in 2.5 hours and be less than 1/2" in depth.

What does the testing Process look like?

First, the candle maker chooses the wax, jar, scent, and for some, color. I choose to leave mine dye free as dye just adds more chemicals, and could clog the wick and create more soot. Then comes the most complex part, The Wick. There are cotton wicks, braided, cored (cotton, paper, zinc), wood wicks and the list goes on! I have chosen a flat braid cotton wick for use in my soy candles.

Next you need to make your candle. Melt your wax, add your Fragrance & color, let it cool to your favorite pouring temperature. Place the wick you have chosen for that Jar/Wax/Scent/Color combo once the wax starts to set. Make any notes as far as temperature of pours, Fragrance Load & room temperature. These will be important for future references.

Every single Jar size, Fragrance & color combo, if using, needs to be tested for wick size. What might work in my 6 oz Hex jar with Black Raspberry Vanilla, may not work in the same Jar with Starfruit Mango. Each Fragrance has it's own consistancy and properties. To have a great candle, each candle must be individually tested.

This is what I will be doing in the next few weeks to assure a Great Candle to my customers with my New Soy wax! I have the first 5 - 6oz Hex Jars Poured. I will wait atleast 24 hours after pouring, before I test these. I will do an initial burn of 4 hours, (checking at 2.5 hours to check burn pool). The next day I will do another 4 hour burn if the first burn was sucessful. Even though a candle SHOULD NOT be lit for more than 4 hours, my last and final test will be a full 8 hour burn. This is just for my peace of mind to ensure safety in the event that someone would forget to blow their candle out before the suggested 4 hours.  I will also weigh my candles before and after each burn to get an idea of how much wax is being burnt in each session for an accurate burn time.

If my first burn results in a wick too small or large, I will replace the wick and start over. Friday will be my test day for the first 5. Then I will keep testing until they are all done! Check back to see my testing pictures!
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