All Posts By

admin

Trouble Shooting

The Importance Of Choosing The Right Wick

wicks

Your wick is the simplest and probably the most purest part of your whole candle system.
It is the engine of your candle; it is the part that drives the burn and determines how your candle will burn and for how long.

For this reason the wick is probably one of the most important parts of your candle that you need to get right.

Unfortunately most candles are wrongly wicked due to miseducation and lack of test burning.

A wrongly wicked candle can look very ugly indeed with big, fat ugly mushroom heads on the wick, black soot around the edge of the jars and in the worst cases, shattering glass.  The wrong wick can also inhibit your scent throw.

So how do you pick the right wick?

Unfortunately this comes down to hard work and trial and error. Due to the nature of soy wax and the different standards of fragrances that are available, there is no one and definitive answer that goes with certain diameters of glassware.

We can give you a starting point. From this starting point it is then up to you to make a candle using this wick, test burn the candle to evaluate itʼs performance and make a decision from there.

When producing my own candles it would take me many weeks and many, many test burns of different sized wicks to settle on the one wick that burnt to my satisfaction with the chosen combination of fragrance and dye.

There is a myth out there many candle makers believe concerning the melt pool and it is the reason most candles are over wicked. A lot of the information that is available on the internet stems from the days of paraffin candles. This myth of the melt pool is one of them.

You will often read articles saying that you have to burn the candle for the first time until it reaches the edges, because it will create a memory and then tunnel down the middle of your candle on all subsequent burns. This is true of paraffin but not of soy candles. If your candle creates a full melt pool in the first couple of hours then I can say with 100% certainty you have over wicked and you will more than likely get large, sooty mushrooms and even black soot over the inside of your jar. If your wick is overly large, you run the risk of your candle glass cracking due to the excessive amount of heat it is producing.

Underwicking also produces itʼs fair share of problems. A candle that is under wicked will ‘tunnelʼ which means it will burn straight down the middle of the candle and never get out to the edge. This is a waste of wax and fragrance and you will never get a strong enough throw.

So what then is a correct burn in a correctly wicked candle?

Ultimately the perfect burn is a full melt pool after the third or fourth burn (at least 5 – 6 hours depending on the size of the candle. I am talking about something like our large monaco jar).

A correctly wicked candle will not mushroom badly if at all. Not every candle can be mushroom free as some fragrances affect how the wick will burn. When manufacturing my own range of candles I had 95% of them burning mushroom free. The other 5% no matter what size wick I used or what percentage of fragrance I used, it still produced a small mushroom at some stage of the burn. As a rule of thumb, if, when your candle has burnt to the end, it has left no wax or very little wax on the side of the glass and did not have a huge ugly mushroom throughout the burn, then that is successful. The ultimate aim is to have a clean burn with no wax residue left on the glass at the end. Some of my candles never achieved a full melt pool until at least half way but were always clean at the end.

When test burning you will notice that the candle can go through stages of burning with and with out a mushroom. It is so important to test burn and keep notes. Notes need to include what time you started the burn, what did the wick look like at different stages in this first burn, what time did this burn finish and for how long did it go. This is repeated every time you light your candle. At the end of the burn when you look over your notes, you have a very clear picture of how your candle performed and whether or not you need to dramatically change it up or down or slightly tweak it.

Not only is choosing the correct sized wick important for your ultimate throw and aesthetic look of your candle when burning, itʼs also so very important in keeping your clients safe and healthy. A sooty soy candle is as bad as the old paraffin candles everybody likes to bag.

How To Recipes

How To Make Chocolate Bath Bombs

chocbathbombs

Bath bombs are so easy to make and the variations are endless. In time for Easter we have made some delectable chocolate bath bombs with sweet almond oil. They smell amazing and contain beneficial salts for a relaxing and wonderful smelling bath time.

WHAT YOU NEED

  • Bath bomb tongs
  • 1 cup citric acid
  • 1 cup sodium bicarbonate
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 cup sweet almond oil
  • 2 tsps cocoa powder
  • 8-10 drops of chocolate fragrance oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add all of your dry ingredients into a mixing bowl (citric acid, sodium bicarb, corn starch, cocoa powder) and give it a good thorough mix.
    bath-bomb-instructions-1
  2. Measure out ½ cup of sweet almond oil and add this to your dry ingredients a little at a time, stirring thoroughly. Do not add to much oil to fast or you will activate your citric acid.
    bath-bomb-instructions-2
  3. Stir your ingredients together until it’s all combined. Keep stirring and mixing until your dry ingredients have mixed completely with the wet ingredients. Your mixture should resemble wet sand when mixed.
    bath-bomb-instructions-3
  4. Scoop your mixture into one side of the bath bomb tongs and pack it down tightly. Turn the tongs over and do the same to the other side. Make sure you overpack this side. Squeeze both sides of the tongs together as tightly as you can. I didn’t worry too much if they didn’t close together fully.
    bath-bomb-instructions-4
  5. After a few seconds release the tongs and your mixture should have formed a perfect ball.
    bath-bomb-instructions-5
  6. Turn the tongs over gently in your hand and very lightly just put your finger over the hole in the tong and give a little push. This is enough to loosen the ball and it will tip out in your hand. Put aside gently and let dry. I let mine dry for at  least 3 days to fully harden.
    bath-bomb-instructions-6
How To Trouble Shooting

What makes a candle throw?

paraffin-candles-blog

This is always an interesting question and there are many “theories” floating around the industry on this topic.

At first glance, everyone looks at the wick for the answer, because that is the most apparent source for the heating and the melting of the wax; to me it starts way before that.

A candle is a system and, like most systems, is made of many parts. In this case wax, wick, dye, fragrance, container and/or shape.

To me, hot throw is primarily the function of the wax and fragrance combination. I have always developed and used wax that have a wide range of carbon distribution and a moderate melt point, ranging from 130 – 140F.

It is important that the carbon distribution of a wax does not have many “holes” in it. By this I mean that it has a complete range for example of C15 – C30 including 15, 16, 17…..29, 30.

My house blend was composed of 130 MP FRP, 140 MP FRP, 180 MP Microcrystalline and Petrolatum. This wide range insured that there were no gaps, and if there was, the petrolatum would fill them in.

When soy came into play that changed the way most people looked at wax. Soy waxes tend to have a real wide distribution, with a few “holes” in it. This is why you see the fat bloom or cauliflower look in some candles. This can be controlled by adding different levels of hydrogenated material (hydrogenation controls the amount of “oil” left in the wax). When you mix partial and fully hydrogenated soy wax it closes some of the holes.

I alway used beeswax for the same reason I used petrolatum; because of its wide distribution. Bottom line, if you have an evenly distributed wax base you are heading in the right direction to create a good hot throw.
I may be one of the only people left out there who even think this deeply about this but I feel that prices and competition have led to companies losing sight of making the right product instead of the right price.
Then, of course, you need to have a properly developed fragrance. I am not as well versed in the chemistry of the building fragrance but having worked with most of the major fragrance houses in the past, here is my opinion.

This industry, too, has been tainted by the need for price over the need for the right fragrance. When I did development work for Avon and SC Johnson, there was no focus on price, just quality. So I saw first hand the difference between a $25.00 and an $8.00 fragrance. A proper fragrance has top, middle and bottom notes built in. All of these together give the sensory smell of what the
label says it is. It is important that these are balanced, if the lighter notes are all made of strawberry then after the candle is burned for 4-6 hours, that layer of wax looses its essence of Strawberry. It is important that all the layers support the top notes.

One of my “favorite” discoveries is that some fragrances have a fecal note..that’s right poop! This added a bottom note that supported the top notes and if balanced wrong just smelled like s@%t, lol.
My favorite part, of course, is the wick or, more importantly, how the candle burns. The poor wick always gets the blame; when in fact this is the most stable and purest part of the system. Most wicks are 100% nice clean cotton or other single part material e.g. paper, rayon, etc. A wick can only perform with the fuel that it is being fed. If you put dirty gas in your lawnmower then it will
perform poorly.

Ironically I have the least to say about the wick because, in essence, it is a simple machine that, when uninhibited by poorly developed waxes, color, fragrance and containers will ALWAYS perform to its fullest potential.
In conclusion, I have found that all of my success in formulating the proper candle consisted of the following criteria:

  1. Proper wax blend (as described above)
  2. Properly formulated fragrance…not just cheap
  3. A wick chosen that, when burned in just the wax base alone is not greatly reduced when dye, fragrance and container are introduced. These sometimes increase the performance; which I consider more of a positive, unless it becomes too hot or uncontrollable.
  4. Proper container shape and size. I feel that the container should contribute positively the melting of the wax pool. The wick alone may not be able to get a full melt pool so the container should also contribute. An improperly shaped container can be as big an influence as an improperly formulated wax or fragrance.
  5. A dye system that does not diminish the wicks potential. So many people “wick up” to beat this. The fact that there is a material in a dye that is non-combustible will not change, it will only burn, turn to black carbon and clog the wick.
  6. Slow and steady wins the race. The best candles I have seen and have made did NOT burn to the edges in the first, second or even fourth hour. Think about it this way. A candle fragrance is delicate and formulated to be released when the wax heated. When a candle burns hot and fast it is burning off the best parts of the fragrance and if it has a 1/2″ or more deep melt pool then you are creating even more modified wax. The idea of leaving “fresh” wax on the sides of the container when burning is two-fold. One, the wax pool is not overheated to the point where the fragrance is burned off and broken down and two, the fresh wax continues to replenish the melt pool with “full strength” fragrance as it melts down from the sides.

So there it is, my thesis on what makes a great candle. Feel free to leave a comment.

Fragrance & Essential Oils Trouble Shooting

FAQ: Why doesn’t my candle smell strong?

candle-and-oil

The scent of your candle is what is going to sell it first and foremost! Do not be fooled into thinking however, that the ‘smellier’ your candle, the better it is. Not everyone likes a ‘stinky’ cloying smell.
When choosing fragrances, especially if you intend on selling your candles, make sure you offer a wide range of choices to your customers including some more subtle pleasant scents as well as the strong throwing more overpowering ones.

The ‘throw’ or ‘smelliness’ of your candle depends on many factors – the type of wax you are using, the actual strength of the fragrance, the size of the jar and the size of the room and how long you have been burning it for.

1. The type of wax – some types of wax eg soy and paraffin throw differently when compared to each other as does each brand of waxes.

2. Strength of the fragrance – some fragrances are designed to be ‘stinky’ and will fill the room with fragrance almost instantly. Some on the other hand are more subtle and you may only get a hint of the smell (depending on the size of the room) If putting a candle in the toilet you want to be able to stand the smell for the time you are in there and as it is a small enclosed space a very smelly candle may not be the right choice.

3. The size of the room – do not expect a small candle to fill an open plan lounge room. Again the specific fragrance will play a role here as you can put a subtle fragrance in a very large candle and still only get a smallish scent throw.

4. Length of time of burning – after around 10 minutes or so we experience what we call ‘sensory overload’ or ‘olfactory fatigue’. This means our brains have had enough of that one particular smell and switch the brain off so we no longer smell it. It is a protection mechanism and one that most of us are glad of (our work place is particularly ‘stinky’ with a rainbow of scents permeating the air daily. None of us can smell it, but customers that come in always comment on how ‘nice’ it smells.) If you can no longer smell the candle it does not mean the scent has disappeared, more than likely your brain has had enough. Leave the room for 10 minutes, clear your nostrils and go back in and you will notice the smell immediately.

For more interesting reading on scent perception and how to educate your customers click here to read our article about fragrance perception.

Fragrance & Essential Oils

Everything you need to know about Lemon Essential Oil!

original-lemon-oil

I love Lemon essential oil, it’s one of my favourites. Lemon oil is very versatile and can be used for a variety of purposes from skin care to detoxing the body to cleaning.

Lemon is a great astringent with beneficial antiseptic properties. To help reduce skin oil and acne mix lemon oil with baking soda or raw honey to make a great natural homemade face wash. Lemon is also a calmative for both the mind and the body. Taking lemon water first thing in the morning not only helps to detox the kidneys but can help with stomach ailments such as cramps, indigestion and heartburn (use real lemons in your water not essential oil).

Burning lemon oil in oil burners or diffusers helps to remove mental fatigue and uplift the mood creating positive emotions.

We all know the effects of citronella but mix lemon oil with eucalyptus and peppermint and you have a great insect repellent, all natural.

Finally create some lemon bath salts and with the added advantage of magnesium from the epsom salts the lemon essential oil will help you to relax and reduce stress.

Lemon oil can be blended with lavender, rose, sandalwood, eucalyptus, geranium, fennel, juniper and neroli.

Caution: Keep out of reach of children. For external use only. Keep away from eyes and mucous membranes. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, seek medical advice prior to use. If applying topically avoid direct sunlight for up to 24 hours as it has a high phototoxicity.

Fragrance & Essential Oils

What is the difference between fragrances and essential oils?

essential-oils

Essential oils are plant based and entirely derived of natural plant matter. Unless mixed with other carriers they are 100% natural.

Fragrances are synthetic and in most cases are blended with essential oils. They are not 100% natural and are man made. Both can be used in candles but like some fragrances, some essential oils will affect how your candle sets and burns so testing is essential.

All ACS fragrances are sourced from the USA. WHY?

They are best! We work closely with one of the USA’s leading fragrance manufacturer who supplies some of the best known brands of candle manufacturers. Our manufacturer has a huge team of scientists, specialists, perfumers and chemists who work specifically on the creation and production of top quality fragrances. We only sell the best quality and therefore will only work with the best quality. Our manufacturer has been around for over 40 years and has a fantastic reputation in the US.

The USA has also some of the toughest, strictest quality control and ingredient regulations in the world: to the point where the rest of the world looks to the state of California for guidelines. Our manufacturer complies with the Californian standards for fragrances so you are safe in the knowledge no ingredient is used that has not been passed and certified first.

Australia is self regulated. We do not have to follow any stringent guidelines as to what can be added to a fragrance or if it needs to follow any safety standards. Australian fragrances do not have IFRA certificates and are not tested by any regulatory bodies. You don’t know who is manufacturing, just how much knowledge they have or just how safe their products are. Some fragrances made in Australia contain ingredients that have been banned in the US.

Trouble Shooting

FAQ: Why does my soy candle have a white coating aka frosting?

frosting-blog

Frosting

We use this term to describe the white coating that appears on your soy candles.

What causes it?

Frosting is a perfectly natural effect of using soy wax and is unique to vegetable waxes. It is the natural wax re crystallizing and trying to return to its natural state.

All soy waxes frost and is a sign that you are using 100% natural soy wax. Some soys have additives to stop this frosting however if you want a 100% natural product then expect frosting.

Frosting does not affect the performance of your candle and is something that you shouldn’t stress over.

You can minimize frosting with these simple tips:

  • Play around with your pour temperature. Pour temp is only a guide and is very relevant to your conditions and surroundings and also the fragrance you are using. Try pouring hotter in small increments and keep a diary.
  • Keep your candles warm overnight. Don’t leave them out especially when you know the temperature is going to drop. This is certain to promote frosting. Soy hates difference in temperatures.
  • Frosting will also occur with age so try and move your candles quickly if its something you don’t like.