Making Palm Wax Candles: 7 Things You Need to Know!

Have you made candles before but now thinking about making palm wax candles? There are a few things you need to know before you get started. This information will help you make a safe, quality sail.

1. AIR HOLES Whether you are making pillar or jar candles, you should ALWAYS look for air holes during the cooling process. When the palm wax cools, it forms a layer on top while the middle is still liquid. Air often gets trapped in that liquid and makes bubbles in the wax. Those air bubbles form around the wick or wick pin (if you’re making pillars). Those air pockets can cause problems when the candle is burning. When the melted puddle reaches one of those pockets, the melted wax drains into the pocket, exposing more of the wick. If you have a big pocket and you drain all the melted wax, your burning wick will be out of control. The candle is well lit for a minute and you walk out of the room only to return to a huge flame. I’m not saying every palm wax candle you make will have bubbles, but it’s not worth the risk. You need to poke holes when a top layer has formed and the wax begins to become cloudy. Timing is everything in this process. You don’t want to wait too long to drill holes. It doesn’t matter what you use to make the holes, as long as you mix the juicy slushie to make sure all the bubbles have risen to the surface. Poking holes in the wax is a time-consuming process, especially when you’re making hundreds of candles. I think this is one of the reasons the big candle companies don’t make palm wax candles.

2. CURING TIME I have tested several hundred fragrance oils from over 30 different manufacturers/distributors. I can tell you that if a fragrance oil is going to have a good hot draw when lit, it will usually have a good cold draw. If you can’t smell any cold release after 24 hours, there’s a good chance you don’t have much of a hot release. I have never experienced any improvement in fragrance by waiting days or weeks. Remember this is not soy wax. This big difference with palm wax compared to other waxes is that it will get noticeably harder over time. Take a test and you will see. Make three candles without fragrance oil or dye. Make candle #1 and let it settle for two weeks. After two weeks, make candle #2. Wait another 2 weeks and make candle #3. When candle #3 is completely cool, burn all three with the same type/size of wick and you will see the difference. This is very important to know because if you wick the candle without regard to the curing process, the wick is likely to be too small. I think a month after making 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 immediately. You just won’t get the longer burn time you could if you let it cure. If I’m testing a particular fragrance, I burn the candle immediately. If the fragrance is fine, then I do more test candles to cure so I can get it sudsed properly. There is no point in waiting a month to let the candle cure if the fragrance is not what you are looking for.

3. COOL How you cool your candles is also important to making beautiful palm wax candles. The slower you cool the wax after pouring it, the better the crystalline design your candle will have. I would recommend testing on this topic. You can get a beautiful design without doing anything. You can pour your wax into a jar or mold at room temperature and get good results. I would try to heat the jar and the molds to see if it suits you better. Also, you can cover your jars and molds to keep them warm. Place something insulating under the candle (such as a thick book or magazine) as it will help it cool evenly. Your final product will show if it was evenly cooled. It really is a matter of how much care you want to pay to try to get the best crystallization in your candles. Just so you know, if you pour melted palm wax into a cold or frozen jar/mold, you won’t get any crystallization. It will look like soy wax.

4. FRAGRANCE OILS Be prepared for the fact that some fragrance oils will not work on palm wax. A pretty good rule of thumb is that if it works on soybeans, it will work on palm. Many places that sell fragrance oils often state if they are compatible with soy. For every 10-15 fragrance oils you try, be prepared to have one that works really well. Again, this is my opinion and what my experience has been. You may experience something different. Get ready to test and test. You will know when you have a winner. Your candle will smell amazing! I would start with 1 oz. of fragrance oil per 16 oz (1 pound) of wax. I wouldn’t worry about getting a digital scale so it can measure 1 oz (weight) of fragrance oil. Just get a shot glass and measure 1 oz. (volume). It will vary with the actual weight of the oil, but not enough to be a concern. If the candle smells great and works well, go ahead. Palm wax has the ability to hold more oil. If you plan on making large numbers of candles then I would consider getting one scale and doing it the other way.

5. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BURN Palm wax is a hard and brittle wax. It does not soften or bend when heated like paraffin wax. If you drop a palm pillar on the ground, it will dent and crumble. Let me save you money and time trying to find the perfect wick to burn your candles. Wedo is a company from Germany that makes wicks only for palm wax. CSN series wicks can be purchased from various places online. Palm wax is hard on wicks and will reduce a good flame to almost nothing in an hour. I have boxes full of wicks that were supposed to be the best and “work great on the palm”. Go with the CSN line. They really do allow for a clean burn that is almost required of an all natural wax. Remember that palm wax wicks burn down then out. Palm pillar sails pose an interesting challenge. Making a self-consuming palm wax candle is even more difficult. Too small a wick tunnels and barely burns half the wax or if the wick is too big it sticks out the side and wax spreads everywhere. Let’s say you apply it so that you have a melted puddle a quarter inch from the edge, you trust everything is perfect. You cannot control whether the person will burn 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 light it correctly. Factors like these can cause a precisely wicked pillar candle to become a candle that goes out after only a few hours. Also, tunnel keepsake flames are not attractive in a thick diameter candle. The candle will not glow and you will hardly notice that it is lit unless you are standing on it. Simply put, you need to absorb the pillar with reasonable consideration for variations in burn. 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, you will reduce crystallization accordingly. If you are going to try to mix enough wax to get rid of the holes, I would do enough test candles to really see and be sure the air pockets are getting rid of. It would cut the candle along the wick.

7. ADDITIONAL 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 burning. Adding or changing the amount of fragrance oils, colorings, or additives can make 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 it’s worth it in my opinion. Hey, if everyone was doing it, it wouldn’t be fun. Happy testing.

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