Wax types

Paige McCaig ·

While candle making can be incredibly fun and creative, there is of course a technical side that you will soon discover once you start researching the activity. It can all seem a bit daunting at first, but don't worry! It's not as confusing as it seems, and here at Craftiful we will try our best to break it down into easy to understand guides, getting you on your way to making all sorts of creations in no time! 

At first glance, you might assume candle wax is a one size fits all situation, but there are actually many different types that all have their own specific methods and requirements. In this post we will break some of these down for you so you know which type fits for you!

Waxes generally fall into one of two categories; paraffin/mineral wax, and plant/natural wax. Originating from different sources, these waxes behave differently due to differences in their molecular structure.

Paraffin wax;

Paraffin wax (also known as mineral wax) is a by-product of the fossil fuel industry, and is made of hydrocarbon chains. These chains vary in length and structure, which in turn results in different blends of wax having slightly different properties, some being softer/harder, and having different melting points. Generally the melting point for paraffin waxes is between 46-68°C. As paraffin wax cools and hardens, it contracts and often forms a dip on the surface of the candle. This can be rectified with a heat gun, once the candle has cured. This contraction also causes the wax to pull away from the sides of glass containers as it cures, which is less easy to fix. Some candlemakers tend to avoid paraffin wax for moral reasons, with it being a by-product of the harmful petrochemical industry. While it is true that paraffin is not from a sustainable source, it is also worth remembering that it is only a by-product, meaning it isn't the direct cause of problems caused by the industry, and using it is simply a way to make the most of a bad situation! 

Plant wax;

Plant wax is, you guessed it, sourced from plants! Immediately it is a more sustainable option than paraffin, with common sources being soy, rapeseed and coconut. These plants are harvested and crushed, where the oil is extracted and filtered, and then reacted with hydrogen in order to convert it into solid wax. While the molecular structures of plant waxes are similar to paraffin waxes, plant waxes also include glycerin molecules which cause the wax to have a lower melting point, making it more accessible for beginner candle makers as it can be melted in a microwave! This difference in structure also alters the hardness and crystal structure of the wax, which results in plant based candles developing a matte finish once cured. As previously mentioned, plant based waxes are far more sustainable than mineral waxes, particularly rapeseed which is growing in popularity due to the fact its mainly harvested and produced in Europe, and does not contribute to deforestation.

To summarise, here's a easy to reference list of the pros and cons of both waxes!

PARAFFIN WAX- PROS:

  • Shiny finish
  • Holds fragrances well
  • Holds colour well, more vibrant results

PARAFFIN WAX- CONS:

  • By-product of fossil fuel industry
  • Imperfect curing results
  • Poor adhesion to glass
  • Higher chance of soot

PLANT WAX- PROS:

  • Sustainable option
  • Ethically sourced
  • Easier to melt for beginners
  • Less likely to produce soot

PLANT WAX- CONS:

  • Some fragrance oils don't interact well
  • difficult to achieve shiny finish

 

Hopefully this article has demystified the daunting task of choosing which wax will work best for you! We offer many types of wax for you to choose from here at Craftiful, so don't worry- we've got you covered with which ever option you go with!

 

 

 

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