How to Make a Candle: Melting Wax

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by Adobe Stock/New Africa

Wax can be melted a number of ways, including in an electric slow cooker, double boiler, melting pot, or commercial wax melter. The most popular are the stove-top methods–using a double boiler or melting pot.

To begin, weigh the wax using a kitchen scale, then place the wax into the melting container. (If you are using a melting pot, place the pot in a pan of water.) Melt the wax over low-to-medium heat until it reaches the recommended melting temperature (see Melting and Pouring Temperatures chart below), also known as the melting point. The melting point is the minimum temperature that will keep wax in a liquid state. Add color and fragrance if desired (see page 23).

Once the wax cools to the recommended pouring temperature (see Melting and Pouring Temperatures chart below), pour it into the mold. Pouring temperatures are important because they affect the finished look of candles. If poured too cool, candles may mottle (a snowflake effect); if poured too hot, they may get cracks (also called jump lines). As discussed in some of the following recipes, pouring temperatures can be adjusted to achieve certain effects in finished candles.

If using a melting pot, you can pour the wax directly into the mold. If using a double boiler or electric slow cooker, you will need to transfer the wax into a pouring vessel, such as a pouring pot or heat-safe glass measuring cup. Note: Wipe the bottom of the melting pot or top pan of a double boiler with a kitchen towel. Doing so will prevent any water from dripping into the wax. Wear an oven glove or mitt when you do this. The wax can now be poured into a prepared container or mold.

Melting and Pouring Temperatures

Note: These are approximate temperatures; because they can vary depending on the company that makes the wax, be sure to check the manufacturer or supplier’s website for specific information.

Melting temperatures   Pouring temperatures  
 Beeswax  144° to 149° F
(62° to 65° C)
 170º F
(76º C)
 Palm wax  138° to 144° F
(58° to 62° C)
 199° to 203° F
(92° to 95° C)
 Soy container wax  115° to 130° F
(46° to 54° C)
 110° to 130° F
(43° to 54° C)
 Soy pillar wax  142° to 148° F
(61° to 64° C)
 150° to 165° F
(65° to 73° C)

Palm wax sets very slowly and becomes cloudy and thick before solidifying by crystallizing. It’s easiest to leave the candle overnight to cool completely, although it is de-moldable when the sides have pulled away from the mold and it feels only faintly warm to the touch, which takes a couple of hours. It sets from the outside in, and can look solid while being still liquid in the middle.

Excerpted from “Candlemaking the Natural Way: 31 Projects Made with Soy, Palm and Beeswax” by Rebecca Ittner (Lark Crafts, 2010). The excerpt is from Chapter 2: Techniques.

Featured Candle Projects:

Cupcake candles
Embedded Pillar candle

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