Selecting the Best Wax for Pillar Candles

When making scented pillar candles, choosing the right wax is one of the most important decisions. The wax type affects the look, burning quality, fragrance throw, and overall performance of the candle. There are a few main options to consider when selecting wax for pillar candles.

Paraffin Wax

Paraffin wax is the most commonly used candlemaking wax. It is derived from petroleum and is relatively inexpensive. Paraffin has a low melting point which makes it easy to work with. It can be melted and poured at temperatures between 115-150°F. Paraffin candles burn slowly and provide a bright flame. The wax pools evenly as the candle burns. Paraffin allows fragrance oils to disperse well when making scented candles. The downside is that paraffin wax produces more soot than some other waxes since it is a byproduct of oil. However, adding stearic acid to paraffin wax helps minimize sooting.

On its own, paraffin wax makes a great choice for beginner candlemakers. It is forgiving and simple to use. Paraffin is available in various melt points to work for both container and pillar candles. Most candle supply shops carry several types of paraffin wax.

Paraffin Wax Blends

Many candlemakers blend paraffin with other waxes to create custom blends with specific properties. Common paraffin blends include:

  • Paraffin-Soy Wax: This blend combines paraffin with soy wax made from soybeans. The soy wax helps the pillars burn cleaner. The blend ratios can be adjusted based on desired performance.
  • Paraffin-Palm Wax: Palm wax comes from the leaves of palm trees. When added to paraffin, it makes a smooth wax that adheres well to candle jars and vessels. This blend hardens into a slightly glossy finish.
  • Paraffin-Beeswax: A small percentage of beeswax added to paraffin wax helps the candle release from the mold easier. It also makes a harder candle that is less likely to bend or bow.
  • Paraffin-Coconut Wax: Coconut wax comes from coconut oil. This blend allows good fragrance retention in the wax and helps pillars burn evenly.

The ratios can be adjusted depending on the needs of the specific candle. Blended waxes allow for some customization by the candlemaker.

Natural Waxes

Some candlemakers prefer to use natural waxes derived from plants or bees. Common natural waxes include:

  • Soy Wax – Made from hydrogenated soybean oil. Has a lower melting point than paraffin so it releases fragrance well. Creates a smooth pillar with even burning.
  • Beeswax – Made from honeycomb produced by honey bees. Has a lovely natural honey color and scent. Beeswax candles burn brighter and longer compared to paraffin. The wax is expensive so it’s often blended with other waxes.
  • Palm Wax – Derived from palm leaves. Harder than paraffin with a high melting point. Creates solid candles with good scent throw. Has a natural variability between batches.
  • Coconut Wax – Made from coconut oil. Allows good scent throw and provides a smooth wax pool when burning. Hard to work with due to variability in melting points. Often blended with paraffin.
  • Bayberry Wax – From the fruit of the bayberry bush. Has a lovely green color and natural scent. Difficult to find commercially so it is not commonly used.

When using natural waxes, candlemakers need to experiment with wick size and design to ensure a proper melt pool and burn. Natural waxes come in different grades with varying properties. Testing is key to determine the right wax or blend for pillar candles.

Consider Fragrance Oil Compatibility

Always test wax compatibility with the fragrance oils you plan to use. Some oils adhere better to paraffin versus soy wax, for example. The wax type impacts hot and cold scent throw. Testing helps determine if an oil needs more or less concentration for optimal performance.

Cost and Availability

Candle wax pricing fluctuates so consider cost implications of different waxes. Paraffin is generally the most economical while beeswax and soy wax retail higher. Some specialty waxes like bayberry are difficult to source commercially. Staying with readily available waxes from candle supply companies simplifies ordering.

In summary, the best wax for pillar candles depends on your preferences and budget. Paraffin works well on its own or blended. Natural waxes like soy and beeswax allow for an eco-friendlier candle. Test different waxes with your fragrance oils to find the perfect match for high-quality scented pillar candles. The wax choice impacts the look, scent throw, and burn performance so sample different options during the developmental process to settle on your preferred pillar candle wax.