Guest Author - Shanda Lynn Markham
There are three Pís that are very important in candle making. They are the three points of wax: melting point, pouring point, and flash point. This article is intended as a general overview of these three points. Please bear in mind that the points vary in reality and are particular to the formulation of wax. Always make sure you get the information for these three points from the manufacturer of where you purchase your wax.
The most important point of any wax is the flash point. This is the point at which the wax will begin to burn and flame. In general, your pour point is a higher temperature than your melt point so it is very important to use a thermometer and check it vigilantly. The flash point of waxes can happen as early as 250 degrees or as late as 400 degrees depending on the formulation and type of wax. Make sure you are aware of the flash point of the wax you are using!! If it sneaks up on you and a fire does start, DO NOT use water to extinguish the flame! Wax is like oil and it will just make it worse. To extinguish a wax fire use baking soda, sand, flour or a chemical fire extinguisher.
The melting point of wax is the point at which the wax liquefies. There are three main types of paraffin wax: low melt point, medium melt point and high melt point. Low melt point was has a melting point of 130 degrees and higher, medium melt point has a melting point of 130-145 degrees and high melt point has a melting point of 145-150 degrees in general. Low and medium melt point paraffin wax is softer and used in container candles, high melt point paraffin is used in mold and pillar candles. Soy wax has a melt point of anywhere from 120-160 degrees. Beeswax has a melt point of 158 degrees. Palm wax and bayberry wax have a melt point of 130 degrees and up. Depending on the blend or additives added to the waxes the melt point can change, always check manufacturer labels for the exact melting point of your wax.
Pour temperatures of wax vary just as greatly as the melting points of wax. Varying your pouring temperature can also create different effects in your candles. Lowering your melting point can create feathering or starburst patterns in your candles. Not using a good pouring temperature point can also cause imperfections in your candles. Paraffin waxes have pouring temperatures of 155-165 degrees. Soy wax has pouring temperatures of 120-140 degrees. Beeswax has a pouring temperature of 160 degrees. Palm wax has one of the highest pouring temperatures ranging from 188-203 degrees. Bayberry wax has a pouring temperature of 150-165 degrees. As you can see, your pouring temperature is usually higher than your melting point and a thermometer is needed to ensure safety and correct temperatures.
A common myth, that even I have been guilty of believing is the flash point of fragrance oils. The myth is that adding your fragrance oil at a temperature higher than its flash point will burn it off and cause a loss of your scent. Someone much more experienced than I am helped de-mystify this myth for me. Adding fragrance and color will actually lower your temperature of the wax. Adding the fragrance oil at a temperature higher than its flash point will not ruin the scent. The main thing to remember when adding scent is to wait until just before you pour to add it and to stir it for a full two minutes.