Candle Making: Essential Tips + Tricks
Calling all candle creators! From the inexperienced hobbyist to the established chandler, we gathered the most commonly asked, difficult-to-answer questions about the science of candle making and compiled all the answers right here, just for you.
How to Calculate Fragrance Load for Candles
Oftentimes, when it comes to calculating fragrance load for your container candles, it can be difficult to determine the reliability of internet sources. That's why, here at Sixteen Seventeen, we have two tested, tried, and true formulas that we want to share with you to ease your stress!
The Sixteen Seventeen Method vs. The Alternate Method
The Sixteen Seventeen Method calculates your wax to fragrance oil ratio based on total candle weight.
Example: 13 oz Concrete Copenhagen Bowl
- Total Weight = 13 oz
- Fragrance Load for No. 7 Soy Wax Blend = 10% (or 0.1)
- 13 oz x 0.1 = 1.3 oz (Fragrance Weight)
- 13 oz - 1.3 oz = 11.7 oz (Wax Weight)
The Alternate Method calculates your wax to fragrance oil ratio based on percentage of fragrance load.
Example: 13 oz Concrete Copenhagen Bowl
- Total Weight = 13 oz
- Fragrance Load = 10% (0.1)
- 13 oz / (1 + 0.1) = 11.82 oz (Wax Weight)
- 13 oz - 11.82 oz = 1.18 oz (Fragrance Weight)
The most important piece to note about this method is that you're adding 1 to whatever your desired fragrance load may be. For example, our No. 7 Soy Wax supports up to a 12% Fragrance Load. The calculation would look like this:
- Total Weight = 13 oz
- Fragrance Load = 12% (0.12)
- 13 oz / (1 + 0.12) = ? (Wax Weight)
- 13 oz / 1.12 = 11.61 oz (Wax Weight)
- 13 oz - 11.61 oz = 1.39 oz (Fragrance Weight)
The same variation would apply for a 6% Fragrance Load (1 + .06 = 1.06), an 8% Fragrance Load (1 + .08 = 1.08), and so on.
Click Here to follow along with our corresponding video and hear these equations explained LIVE.
How to Determine the Capacity of a Candle Vessel
What do you do if you don’t know how much candle a vessel can hold? We like to solve this problem by using water and a scale!
For example, if your scale reads 16 oz, multiply 16 oz by 0.86, which gives you 13.76 oz in total candle (wax + fragrance) weight.
This method is incredibly simple, but can sound a bit complicated without a visual example. If you would like to learn more about the process, we recommend watching the video for a live walkthrough.
Flashpoint: What Does it Mean + When Does it Matter?
Flashpoint is a term all candle makers have repeatedly heard thrown around with incorrect and conflicting information on what it actually means. The biggest misconception we’ve encountered is the belief that if you add your fragrance oil at or above the flashpoint, the fragrance notes will “flash off”. This is absolutely a myth!
The legal definition of flashpoint is “the minimum temperature at which a liquid gives off vapor within a test vessel in sufficient concentration to form an ignitable mixture with air near the surface of the liquid (Cornell Law).
Basically, flashpoint is the temperature at which a fragrance oil would need to reach under specific circumstances (enough fragrance oil in an enclosed area) to produce vapor that could be ignited by a spark or an open flame, which is an issue not many candle makers need to worry about.
So why do companies print flashpoint on fragrance oil bottles? Because of transport: shipping carriers have certain guidelines they are required to follow in regard to shipping hazardous materials, and printed flashpoints on bottles is how they ensure they’re within those guidelines. What does that mean for container candle makers? NOTHING (: (unless you're making gel candles).
Powerburning: What is Considered a Powerburn + How Long to Test Your Candles
Technically, burning a candle any longer than 4 hours is a power burn. This can be an acceptable guideline to follow if you’ve already established a foolproof formula and are testing your latest batch, but we recommend testing your candles the way a customer would use them. This means testing your products anywhere from 30 minute burns to 12+ hour burns (who hasn’t accidentally left a candle burning overnight?). We absolutely stand by our suggestion to test your candles for extended periods of time because forgetting about a lit candle can and does happen, and you want to make sure your products are safe before sending them home with your customers. For these burns, we recommend finding a safe place to perform your testing like a tile shower or a large stainless steel sink, just in case you encounter any exploding vessels.
Glass Temperature: ASTM Guidelines + When Do They Matter?
The latest ASTM guidelines do not mention any recommended external temperature for candle glass while a candle is burning. For safety, the most commonly acknowledged industry standard temperature for candle glass advises not allowing temperatures to exceed 175°F. This means that the external temperature of your candles should not exceed 175°F at any point in the burning process. We use an infrared thermometer and aim it at the glass vessel while the candle is burning, testing the temperature in multiple areas to achieve an accurate reading.
It is important to note that if you sell your candles through third-party retailers like Macy’s or Nordstrom, they often have their own temperature guidelines that are lower than 175°F. In our experience, we have seen this number range anywhere from 140°F to 175°F. It’s important to check with your retailer about their specific guidelines to ensure that your candles follow their requirements.
Lids: When Do They Matter?
Do lids for candle vessels really serve a purpose? Some candle makers believe that putting a lid on your candle during the curing process helps a candle “keep the scent”, but this is false. Lids are great for keeping dust out of your beautiful creations and can take the visual aesthetic of your candle to the next level, but the biggest benefit when it comes to lids is trapping cold throw. If you’re someone who sells your candles in a physical storefront, you’re already aware that the biggest selling point for an in-person candle purchase is cold throw. Using a lid traps the cold throw in your vessel so that when a customer lifts the lid to smell your candle, they are struck with a wall of fragrance. It’s love at first scent!
Upcycling + Repurposing Candle Vessels
Did you know that it takes roughly 1 million years for glass to break down in a landfill? That’s a long time! Now more than ever it’s important that we are mindful of our waste and take the time to teach our customers to clean out their vessels before discarding them into the recycling bin.
One of the best parts of container candles is that the party doesn’t stop when the candle is over. Vessels can be cleaned out and repurposed in countless ways, which can be a great selling point when it comes to sustainability.
Clear glass vessels like our Handblown Flawless Glass are safe to clean and repurpose as the ideal weighted stemless glass for clumsy guests. The color deposition (rather than paint) in our Passion Prints collection makes them food and drink safe as well. As for vessels that have been painted like our Evermore Cylinders and French Cut Glass, they are not safe to use for food or drink, but make great cotton ball/cotton swab holders, vases, pen holders, and so much more!
Washing clear and color deposited glass is as simple as using a sponge and dish soap, but cleaning vessels that have been painted can be trickier. It’s vital to be gentle as the paint can scratch off and leave clear “holes” in the pigment.
For vessels with interior paint, we advise (re)using a plastic spoon to remove the excess wax. Sometimes removing wick tabs from the bottom of a jar still requires a metal spoon or a knife, but a plastic spoon is less likely to cause unsightly scratches in your vessel's paint. Another viable method (for glass containers) is to use a heat gun to soften and remove the remaining wax.
After the wax has been removed, the last step is to wipe out the remaining oils with windex and a soft, non-abrasive cloth. Again, it’s important to be sure to be gentle so as to not scratch the paint on the interior of your vessel. We have heard a lot of candle makers recommend cleaning vessels with rubbing alcohol, but we warn makers to be cautious with this method as this can sometimes remove paint as well.
Once clean, your vessel is ready for the next stage of its journey! For example, our favorite way to repurpose our retired testing vessels are as vases to bring life and color to the workplace.
CLICK BELOW to follow Vanessa as she walks you through equations, deep dives into the science of candle making, and answers the hottest questions LIVE on Instagram.