What are the Different Candle Wax Types?

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What are the Different Candle Wax Types?

Candles have remained in steady, popular demand among consumers. From their humble beginnings in the pre-electricity era, candles have evolved into multiple forms and functions.

Early History of Candles and Waxes

Candles have been around for five millennia. History records trace the invention of the primitive form of candles to ancient Egypt. The Egyptians of old lit torches made of the pulpy core of reeds that had been immersed in melted animal fat. These wickless rushlights were the precursor of candles in their later evolutions. Ancient civilisations have been credited for making various forms of wicked candles out of plants and insects. The early Romans invented candles with wicks by rolling papyrus and soaking them in liquefied beeswax or tallow. Historical evidence also points to the use of beeswax candles in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.). The Chinese made candle wax out of an insect and seed mixture. They used paper tubes as candle moulds, and rolled rice paper served as the wick. The Japanese produced wax from tree nuts, while in India, wax for the temple candles was extracted from boiled cinnamon. Candles figured prominently in religious rituals dating back to ancient and Biblical times. As far back as 165 B.C., the Israelites lit candles to celebrate the Festival of Lights or Hanukkah. Early Christians lighted blessed candles during religious ceremonies.

Evolution of Candle Waxes

The old types of candles in Western cultures were made from tallow or animal fats. These crude candles had an unpleasant smell and did not burn well. Beeswax candles found their way into Europe during the Middle Ages. They were cleaner, burned longer, and exuded a sweet fragrance. Due to their high costs, beeswax candles were exclusively used in church and in the homes of the wealthy. By the 13th century, candle making had developed into a guild craft among the French and English. Tallow continued to be the common people’s candle in Europe and the Americas until the 18th century. The invention of the bayberry wax candle, with its pleasant smell and clean burn, has been attributed to Colonial America. Wax from sperm whale oil was introduced in the latter part of the 18th century. Candles from this spermaceti wax emitted a brighter glow, burned cleanly, had little odour, and were hard enough to withstand hot weather. With this breakthrough, spermaceti candles were recognised as the first “standard” candles ever to be produced. The 19th century witnessed further advancements in candle making. A wax made of stearic acid from animal fat was found to be strong and clean burning. Stearin candles gained popular use in Europe. Then paraffin wax made its appearance when it was extracted from the petroleum refining process. Paraffin candles held a significant place in Western culture because they were cheap, burned cleanly and when mixed with stearic acid, raised their melting point. With the entry of electricity, consumer interest in candles shifted from necessities to novelty items. Since then, new types of candle waxes have been developed. Artificial and chemically synthesised waxes and gels were manufactured in the late 20th century. Soy and palm waxes were produced commercially. Paraffin mixed with additives remains the most widely used candle wax on a global scale. Beeswax has worldwide use but on a limited basis. Europeans still favour stearin candles. Vegetable-based waxes, synthetic blends and custom formulas are now commonly available.

Types of Candle Wax

Through the years, candle waxes have been rendered or extracted from oils, fats, and substances with waxy properties. Sources from nature include plants, rocks, animals, and insects. Waxes consist of hydrocarbon elements, no matter if they originate from animals, vegetables, or petroleum. There are natural and synthetic types of wax, each with its pros and cons. Some natural sources, such as palm wax, beeswax, and soy wax have the advantage of burning longer and cleaner, with less smoke and soot. Palm wax and beeswax are expensive, so candles made from them are high-end items. Paraffin is an artificially made wax sold at cheap prices. With different degrees of melt points, paraffin is usually mixed with additives to improve its quality. Additives make the candle harder, hold up better in hot weather, burn longer, and bind the dye and fragrance oil with the wax. Blended paraffin wax with additives already added in the right amounts produces better results. If allergic to paraffin, candles made from mineral-oil based waxes and gels are excellent alternatives.

Candle Wax Types: Advantages and Disadvantages

Candle making experts point out the positive and negative aspects of different types of candle wax. They also recommend which candle wax types are ideal for various kinds of candles and their specific uses.

Candle Wax Types

Pros

Cons

Uses / Types of Candles

Palm wax

May be the longest burning natural, vegetable-derived wax Produces brighter flame than other waxes Smooth and dry Hardness holds well in hot weather Virtually smoke-free; almost sootless with cotton wick

Challenging material to work on Costly

Long-lasting candles

Soy wax

Slow burning Cleaner, produces little soot Pure soy wax is toxin-free

May lack consistency Soybean scent may not appeal to some Caution: Candles sold as soy blend may only be 20 per cent soy and mixed with other waxes

Large candles and almost everything else, except scent tarts

Pure beeswax

Burns clean and long All-natural wax from honeybees Virtually drip-free Honey aroma does not need added scent

Expensive Honey scent may not blend well with other fragrances

Luxury item Christmas candles, hand-sculpted candles, small candles

Bayberry

Treasured rare item steeped in colonial history Nature’s scent of freshly mown grass

High price Needs to be mixed with beeswax to soften brittle quality Burning property doesn’t suit big, bulky candles Hay smell may clash with other scents

Tarts, tapered candles Christmas and New Year decor candles Christmas Eve tradition of lighting bayberry candles for blessing and prosperity

Blended paraffin

Widely used, cheap Additives improve burn rate, clarity, and hardness to withstand hot weather

Emits air pollutants and black soot loaded with toxins Allergens cause adverse reactions for some individuals

Common uses

Mineral oil and resin compounds

Better option for people allergic to paraffin Clean and consistent burning Clear and bubble-free Higher melting point means less soot and allergic reactions Can carry more scent than paraffin

 

Container candles Gel candles Free standing candles Clear wax candles Pillar candles

Mineral-oil based gel

Easier material to handle for candle makers Clear gel makes possible various designs, such as floating beads, glitters, underwater scenes

More bubbles require higher temperature to melt gel wax Mostly for decorative use Must be in heat-resistant glass containers Not intended to be lit when candle comes in a fragile glass container; glass shards and melted wax may explode and cause personal injury

Decor accent; collectible

Find Various Types of Candle Wax on eBay

Candle waxes of a wide range of blends and formulations are for sale on eBay. Find thousands of available item listings of different kinds of candles and hundreds of choices for candle waxes. For customers interested in candle making, candle waxes are offered in small quantities or larger batches, or as part of candle making kits. On the eBay homepage, click the All Categories tab. Under the Crafts section, open the Candle & Soap Making link. On the left pane of the page, under the “Type” category, check the box beside Wax / Wax Pellets.. It opens to a new page showing Sub-Type on the left pane that lists candle wax types available for sale. Check the appropriate box or click to select a candle wax type, for example, Soya Wax. To select several candle wax types at the same time, click the choose more... link. On the pop-up window, check the boxes beside the candle wax types of interest, and click Go. A variety of available scents may also be selected. If looking for a particular kind of candle wax in finished candles, type keywords such as soy candles in the eBay home page search field. This broad search yields thousands of item listings. The selection can be narrowed by clicking a preferred sub-category, such as Home Decoraand drilling further down, e.g., Home Fragrances..

Conclusion

The bottom line is that candles made from different types of waxes perform comparatively well when they are produced with high-quality, toxin-free ingredients. They will burn slowly, safely and cleanly when manufactured under rigorous standards. Pure waxes and wax blends, with their respective properties and formulations, are suited for specific types and uses of candles. Waxes alone don’t make excellent candles; all the materials that go into making the whole product should be taken into consideration. For example, cotton wicks are the safer choice over lead wicks that pose potential health hazards. Beware of candle waxes, wicks and synthetic scents of inferior grade. Candles made from these substandard materials may be cheap, but they burn fast and produce toxic vapours. Whether buying the finished products or waxes to make candles, it’s advisable to learn about wax characteristics, additives and other ingredients. Gaining valuable knowledge will help to make informed decisions toward smart purchases.

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