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Tips for Choosing a Good Candle (Become a candle burning pro)

THE CANDLE

Hey, hey, hey!  Thanks for reading this post, in advance!  I realized that I go though a small checklist when I’m looking to buy candles.  Yes, I do buy candles from other companies other than my own business but for research purposes.  I learn a lot because it defines what I want and don’t want for the candles I create and want to provide quality candles.  So, this is what I’ve learned in the past 7 years and thought I would share.

There are a few things to consider when choosing a good candle. 

First, visualize where you will place the candle and how you want your senses to react when you walk into the room.  Maybe you want a flowery perfumey (is that a word?) scented candle in the bathroom, or maybe you want a banana bread scent in the kitchen or maybe you want a smoky masculine fragrance in the bedroom….hmmmm.  Candles subtly recall pleasant memories.   The first aspect when choosing a candle is your vision of how you want to feel when you walk into the room?

Secondly, think about the size of the room for the candle.  I really never thought of this until I really started lighting candles in my life.  It only makes sense that we’ll need a candle to fit the size of the room we put it in.  We’ll need a smaller candle for the bathroom and a larger candle for the kitchen, dining room and living room. And if you have a really big house, you’ll need a couple large candles to fill up any large rooms.  Seems simple and obvious but sometimes this is overlooked and folks will have an over-scented small room or an under-scented large room.

THE WAX

Check your labels!  Yes, not only your food labels but your candle labels also!  Most candle companies will label the candle as a Soy Candle on the label.  If you can’t tell by the label which wax is being used, you can assume it is a paraffin or paraffin blend with other waxes.  

Candles that contain paraffin have pros and cons. One pro to burning paraffin is that the candle will hold the fragrance very well. The con to paraffin candles is that you are burning petroleum and that produces soot.  So, if you are concerned about what is released into your atmosphere, choose other wax forms like soy wax or coconut wax for a cleaner burn. I’m all for the cleanest burn you can get but candles.org contains a FAQ that claims there is no scientific study that it is harmful to burn paraffin wax.

Natural waxes hold fragrance very well if made correctly.  Soy wax burns 30%- 50% more than paraffin wax so you’ll get more burning hours out of your candle.  Coconut wax is another great option since this wax burns even longer than soy wax, by about 15% longer.

Some candle manufacturers blend paraffin and soy wax together giving you a great scent due to the paraffin wax and the slow burn due to the soy wax but the candle manufacturer can still call it a soy candle.  Paraffin is a much cheaper wax allowing you to save money but reducing the burn time.

THE WICK

Burn time really depends on the wick and wax that is used.  Some wicks burn better with different waxes.

Although you may not be able to determine which kind of wick is used unless you work with them much of the time, however, a couple of good wicks are Cotton Cored wicks and CD wicks.  CD wicks are self trimming and you can spot those if they bend over a bit after burning them.  Don’t get me wrong, you still have to trim this wick, but they give off a beautiful flame. My favorite is cotton cored because the flame is so bright during the whole burn. 

Wicks that are too large in diameter for the jar will burn very quickly. Too large of a wick will also cause a very deep melt pool.

I let this one burn a little too long (oooops!) because you should put out a candle when it has 1/4 – 1/2 inch of wax left in the bottom, however, see how the candle used up all the wax?  This candle had a melt pool all the way to the edges.

Wicks that are too small for the jar will create “tunneling” and this means that it leaves wax all along the sides of the jar. 

This is a candle that is tunneling.  You may have heard people say, “The first burn is the most crucial”, well, I want to tell you that “Every burn is crucial!!”  You should burn your candle for 1 hour for every inch in diameter the container is.  This is because you want to develop a melt pool that reaches all the way to the edges!  I can’t express this enough.  You’ll know a good candle that burns all the way to the edges.  For example, if you have a candle that is 3 inches in diameter, we need to burn that candle for at least 3 hours at a time.  If your candle isn’t reaching the edges of the container, then you may have a candle that isn’t made correctly. 

It’s crucial that the candle manufacturer chooses the perfect wick for the wax and container for the candle.  This means hours of testing the type of wax used and the amount of fragrance used in the container. Without choosing the right wick the candle will not burn properly and can result in many issues.

Candles that are made of paraffin wax tend to burn more quickly than candles made of soy wax and other natural waxes. Some candle manufacturers use soy wax blended with other waxes like paraffin.  This provides the great smell of the candle from the paraffin and the slower burn with the soy wax.

You might be able to tell that I’m a fan of soy wax and more natural means of candles.

THE SCENT

The amount of fragrance that is used in candle making has a range of percentage to use with wax.

Some candle manufacturers may use too little fragrance, so the candle does not smell strong and some people like that. Some candle manufacturers use too much fragrance and that can cause oil to seep to the top of the candle and /or cause a fire hazard among other issues. The proper percentage to use in candle making is 7-10% of fragrance.

There is a fine balance of fragrance that needs to be used in candle making and some things to beware of.  For instance, a manufacturer may create a candle without fragrance and then do a portion of the top of the candle with fragrance to reduce costs.  So, if you have a candle that starts off smelling wonderful and does not continue then it could be that this manufacturer could have used a top pour method in their candle making. If your candle smells up the room for the duration of the candle you have got a good candle. I do not believe many candle manufacturers do this but beware of cheap candles and pay attention to this.

I’m so excited to announce clean fragrances coming to the market as we speak!  Stay tuned for more information on that!

THE PRICE

I have to talk about the price here because there is so much that goes into a providing a quality candle.  The range of prices for candles varies from $1 at the dollar store to $3,600 believe it or not.   You definitely get what you pay for.

However, an average price for an average 8 ounce candle is between $10 – $30.  Remember waxes and wicks in combination burn differently.

This is why candles are so expensive.  What goes into making and selling candles?

  • The Vessel or Container
  • The Wick
  • The Wax
  • The Fragrance
  • The Labels
  • The Packaging
  • The Testing
  • The Marketing
  • The Storage of materials
  • Time Researching and learning
  • Technology to run the business

“Why are candles so popular?

Candles are one of the most enjoyable, affordable, and readily accessible luxury items. They infuse the home with color and fragrance, and can help create a special warmth and ambiance to allow for a sense of calm and well-being.” Quote from Candles.Org

In conclusion, always, always trim your wick to 1/8 – 1/4 of an inch.  Any candle, no matter how well it’s made, will produce soot if the wick is not trimmed before every burn.  Please keep candles away from drafts and out of reach of children and pets.

Why do we love a campfire and sit around it staring into the blaze?  I haven’t quite figured that out but it’s incredibly meditative, peaceful and so calming.  I believe that has a lot to do with why we love candles so much not to mention the ambiance and pleasant scent it can bring.

Please leave your comments and/or questions.  Let me know what else you want to know!  I’m a research geek!

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