Guest Author - Shanda Lynn Markham
This article is intended to be an overview of the different types of waxes available to candle makers. It is not meant to be all inclusive as I will follow with other articles regarding some of the information about waxes. Thankfully there are not as many waxes out there as there are wicks! Your choice of wax really depends on what you are looking for in your candle (scent load, color, etc.) and your personal preference and beliefs.
Bayberry wax is made from the berries of the Bayberry bush. It is a more expensive wax as it takes 15 pounds of berries to create 1 pound of wax. This wax is naturally a light green color with light scent. It has a melt point of approximately 118 degrees.
There is currently a great debate between Paraffin Wax and Soy Wax that I will cover in a later article. Generally there are 3 levels of paraffin wax that are separated by their melting points. Low melt point paraffin has a melt point of approximately 130 degrees. Due to its softness it is more suitable for container candles. Medium melt paraffin has a melt point of approximately 130-145 degrees. It is a little harder than the low melt point wax and is suitable for poured candles. High melt point paraffin has a melt point of approximately 145-150 degrees. Due to its hardness it is more suitable for carved or molded candles. Paraffin is one of the most common and inexpensive waxes used by candle makers. There is also a difference on grades of paraffin as there is a grade approved by the Food and Drug Administration that is safe to use in conjunction with food.
Beeswax is a natural wax that is harvested during the honey making process. It has a natural aroma to it and is yellow in color. It has a melt point of approximately 146 degrees and is on the more expensive side.
Soy wax is derived from the soy bean itself. It is mainly used in aromatherapy candles as you can safely use essential oils in this wax. It has a melt point of approximately 120-135 degrees.
Palm wax has more recently come onto the market and is derived from the palm tree. It is often used in combination with soy wax. It creates a feathered appearance in the candle and is a harder wax suitable for pillars. It has a melt point of approximately 140 degrees.
Gel and Jelly Wax
Gelled wax is made from gelled minerals and plastic polymers and really is not a “wax”. It is difficult to “melt” and can not be melted using the double boiler method. The addition of additives, color or scent can cloud the final product. As you heat the gel it becomes thinner. This generally happens between 190-220 degrees.
Jelly wax resembles hair gel and comes in a tube. This wax is already scented and colored and is most commonly used in projects with children.