March 13, 2020


Welcome candle lovers to this guide on the different types of candle wax. Making candles is a great way to pass the time in a creative and constructive way. The outcome is time well spent when you can enjoy hours of scented bliss. However, getting to that stage takes some time and research. This guide to different types of candle wax will launch you on your journey. In a few short minutes, you will have the foundation knowledge to start making your own candles. 

Why are we talking wax? 

Wax is the main component of candles. It is the solid mass, sometimes coloured, that makes up what we see as candles. When we light the candle wick, the flame melts the surrounding wax. As the wax melts, it is absorbed into the wick and used as a fuel for the flame. This provides a constant supply of fuel that allows the candle to continue to burn. As the wax is consumed by the flame, the candle decreases in size until all the wax is gone. This is why wax is so important to candle making

The 3 Different Types of Wax Groups 

Wax is something that can be found in many parts of nature. Animals produce wax, the most famous of these is beeswax. Some plants also produce wax in natural fruits and nuts such as palm, coconut, or soy bean. Finally there is the most common wax used by the high street and major brands alike, created using an oil product, paraffin. These are the three core groups of origins for different types of candle wax

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Petroleum based wax

Petrolum based wax is one of the different types of wax for candle making

This is wax that is created from the chemical by product of petroleum. It is one of the many uses we gain from oil. While the most common would be fuel for our cars or in the creation of plastic. Petroleum can also be used to create candle wax known as paraffin. This is a solid white substance that can be melted and formed into container candles, pillar candles, or wax melts. Parrafin can also be made into a liquid form. This is what you can use on tiki torches and similar outdoor lamps. 

Animal based wax

Animal base waxes are part of the different types of wax for candle making

The second group in our list of different types of wax for candle making is that of animal origin. The most commonly known of these is Beeswax. Bees produce wax in the creation of their famous honeycomb hive structure. That honeycomb is made from a natural wax that bees produce. This natural wax is normally processed into more manageable structures for candle making. Normally in bar shapes that can be weighed and melted according to needs. The strength and versatility of bees wax is best used in pillar candles. However, it can also be carved and shaped to produce some stunning and unique designs beyond the traditional cylindrical shape. 

Plant based wax

Plant based wax are one of the different types of wax for candle making

The final in our core group of different types of wax for candle making comes from plants. Plants produce wax for a variety of purposes and you can find wax that comes from soy bean, palm, rapeseed, or coconut in many retailers. Plant based waxes are a big draw for candle lovers. Their natural and sustainable sources make them a more attractive idea for people who are conscious of the impact of petroleum and animal wax on the environment. They are also a superb option for gifting to our vegan friends. Plant based waxes are a little more difficult to work with than petroleum based and require more attention in the melting process. However, when done correctly, they can produce longer burn times, cooler burning temperatures, and are great at holding fragrances. 

When to use the different types of wax 

Deciding what wax to use for your project is a great first step. There are many companies that are working with wax and there are many options available. This can be confusing for first timers. So, let us look at when you should use which wax. 

Container Candles 

The first attempt for most candle lovers. The container candle explains exactly what it is. It is a wax candle in a container. This can be a glass jar, a tumbler, a shot glass, or a metal tub. They are the easiest and cleanest candles for your first attempt. A paraffin or plant based wax are the go-to types of wax for this. Both can hold a good amount of fragrance and colouring. They also work well with most wick types which something you should be thinking about too. 

Pillar & Votive Candles 

Taking candle making to the next level. Pillar & Votive candles are freestanding with no container. While votive candles are generally the small freestanding candle that you place into a small jar to burn. The Pillar candle comes in many sizes, styles, and shapes. These types of candles are best made with paraffin or bees wax. There are several blends of paraffin wax that are designed specifically for pillar based candles. This gives you many options in pricing, style, and wax type while also being relatively cheap. Bees wax is a lot more expensive, naturally, but the effects on pillar candles are tremendous. You can use bees wax to create rugged hand made candles and beautifully carved designs. 

Wax Melts 

A common sight in most British homes. Wax melts are quick and simple to create. Not to mention amazing to burn in your cute melt burners. Wax melts are most noticeably different from candles because the wax does not melt away. Whereas in candles the wax is used as a fuel source. With melts, the heat from the tea light below melts the wax. This source of bottom heat allows the wax melt to release its fragrance through heat vapour coming off the surface. This different style of emission requires a special blend of wax. Both paraffin and plant based waxes have been created to suit this purpose. However, be sure to check the label of your wax as they will say whether they are suited to wax melts. 

Always check the label.  

If you are searching for wax for your next project, I have a bit of advice. Always check the label. All waxes available commercially are designed for specific purposes and most will state so. Good retailers will also provide a detailed description of the wax, what it can be used for, and notes on temperature and fragrance loads. So, I always check the label. After this remember, the process is a trial and error. Candle making is an art form and you will need to practice and test different combinations of materials, tools, and temperatures to find the right balance. Never be disheartened! Any candle you make is an expression of your hard work and creativity. Enjoy the fruit of your labour and other people will too! 

About the Author

I'm the Chief Candle Maker here at Penseth Company. I also write guides and updates for the blog.

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