Have you made candles before but are now thinking of making palm wax candles? There are a few things to know before you begin. This information will help you make a safe and quality candle.
1. AIR HOLES Whether you are making pitcher or pillar candles, you should ALWAYS poke for air holes during the cooling process. When palm wax cools, it forms a layer on top while the middle is still liquid. Air is usually trapped in that liquid and bubbles in the wax. Those air bubbles form around the wick or wick pin (if you are making abutments). Those air pockets can cause problems when the candle is lit. When the pool of melt reaches one of these pockets, the melted wax drains into the pocket, exposing more wick. If you have a large pocket and you drain all the melted wax, your burning wick will be out of control. The candle is burning well for a minute and you leave the room only to return to a large flame. I’m not saying that every palm wax candle you make has bubbles, but it’s not worth the risk. You should poke holes when a top layer has formed and the wax begins to cloud. Timing is everything in this process. You don’t want to wait too long to poke holes. It doesn’t matter what you use to poke the holes, as long as you mix the juicy slushie just enough to make sure all the bubbles have risen to the top. Drilling holes in the wax is a time-consuming process, especially when making hundreds of candles. I think this is one of the reasons why you don’t see the big candle companies making palm wax candles.
2. CURE TIME I have tested several hundred aromatic oils from over 30 different manufacturers / distributors. I can tell you that if a fragrance oil is going to have a good hot effect when lit, it will usually have a good cool effect. If you can’t smell any cold releases after 24 hours, chances are you don’t have much hot releases. I have never experienced any fragrance improvement by waiting days or weeks. Remember this is not soy wax. This big difference from palm wax compared to other waxes is that it will get noticeably harder over time. Take a test and see. Make three candles without aromatic oil or coloring. Make candle n. 1 and let it sit for two weeks. After two weeks, make candle No. 2. Wait another 2 weeks and prepare candle n. 3. When candle n. 3 is totally cold, burn all three with the same wick type / size and you will see the difference. It is very important to know this because if you wick the candle without taking into account the curing process, the wick is probably too small. I think a month after manufacturing is a good time to start trying to figure out the perfect wick size. There is nothing wrong with making a candle and burning it right away. You just won’t get the longest burn time you could have if you let it cure. If I am trying a particular fragrance, I burn the candle immediately. If the fragrance is okay, then I make more test candles to heal, so that I can make it evil properly. There is no point waiting a month for the candle to cure if the fragrance is not what you are looking for.
3. COOLING The way you cool your candles is also an important thing in making beautiful palm wax candles. The slower you cool the wax after pouring it, the better the crystal design of your candle will be. I would recommend trying this theme. You can get a beautiful design without doing anything. You can pour the wax into a mold or jar at room temperature and get good results. I would try heating the jar and molds and see if it suits you better. Plus, you can cover your jars and molds to keep warm. Place something insulated under the candle (like a thick book or magazine) because it will help to cool evenly. Your final product will show if it had uneven cooling. It really is a matter of how much attention you want to pay to trying to get the best crystallization in your candles. Just so you know, if you want to melt palm wax in a cold or frozen jar / mold, you will have no crystallization at all. It will look like soy wax.
4. FRAGRANCED OILS Be prepared for the fact that some fragranced oils will not work with palm wax. A pretty good rule of thumb is that if it works on soy, it will work on palm. Many places that sell aromatic oils will indicate whether they are compatible with soy. For every 10-15 scent oils you try, be prepared to have perhaps one that works very well. Again, this is my opinion and what has been my experience. You may experience something different. Be prepared to try and test. You will know when you have a winner. Your candle will smell amazing! I would start with 1 oz. of fragrance oil for every 16 oz (1 pound) of wax. I wouldn’t worry about having a digital scale so you can measure 1 oz (weight) of fragrance oil. Just get a shot glass and it measures 1 oz. (volume). It will vary with the actual weight of the oil, but not enough to be concerned. If the candle smells good and works well, do it. Palm wax has the ability to retain more oil. If you plan to make large quantities of candles then I would consider buying a scale and doing it the other way around.
5. BURN CHARACTERISTICS Palm wax is a hard and brittle wax. It does not become soft or flexible when heated like paraffin wax. If you drop a palm pillar to the ground, it dents and falls apart. Let me save you time and money trying to find the perfect wick to burn your candles. Wedo is a German company that manufactures wicks for palm wax only. CSN series wicks can be purchased from various places online. Palm wax is wick resistant and will reduce a good flame to next to nothing in an hour. I have boxes full of wicks that were supposed to be the best and “work great with the palm.” Go with the CSN line. They really allow for a clean burn that almost requires an all-natural wax. Remember that the wicks in the palm wax burn down and then out. Palm pillar candles present an interesting challenge. Making a self-burning palm wax candle is even more difficult. The wick is too small and tunnels and barely burns half of the wax, or if the wick is too big it blows the side and the wax goes everywhere. Suppose you use it to have a pool of melt a quarter inch from the edge, you are trusting that everything is perfect. You cannot control whether the person will light the candle for 10 minutes or 10 hours. Will the sail be level? Will there be a breeze? What if the wick is never trimmed? All of these factors can change the way a candle burns, even if you have it wicked properly. Factors like these can turn an evil pillar candle into a candle that burns out after only a few hours. Also remember that tunnel flames are not attractive on a thick diameter candle. The candle will not glow and you will hardly notice that the candle is lit unless you are standing on it. Simply put, you must absorb the pillar with reasonable consideration for variations in combustion. Most people light candles and forget about them until they are blown out. Just a thought.
6. MIXING WAXES Combining other waxes with palm wax can create some interesting results. Remember that the more you add other waxes to the palm, the crystallization will reduce accordingly. If you are trying to mix enough wax to remove the holes, you would make enough test candles to actually see and be sure that the air pockets are removed. I would cut the candle along the wick.
7. MORE INFORMATION One of the most important things when making candles is to remember that any changes you make can alter the performance of a candle when lit. Adding or changing the amount of aromatic oils, dyes or additives can have noticeable differences when burning. Always take notes! You will never remember everything. Palm wax is my favorite wax for its performance. It can be a headache to work with, but in my opinion it’s worth it. Hey, if everyone was doing it, it wouldn’t be fun. Happy testing.