Do I need a thermometer to make candles?
The short answer: Yes! :)
Why do you need a thermometer for candle-making?
When making your candles, there are some important parameters that you will need to watch for a good and consistent result. These are the wax's heating and melting temperature, the temperature to add dyes and fragrance oils, and when to pour the wax. Let's dive into these in some more detail:
At what temperature does the wax melt?
The type of wax you use when making candles will determine the temperature when heating and melting the wax. For most soy waxes, the melting point is about 185-190° Fahrenheit (85-88° Celsius), but this can vary between the different wax manufacturers and the purpose of the candle wax. For paraffin wax the melting point is lower, about 120-160° Fahrenheit (49-71° Celsius).
We would want the wax to be completely melted and liquid but not overheated. We do not want the wax to get overheated as this may change the chemical structure of the wax and affect both the candle's visual appearance and performance.
When to add fragrance oil?
When do I add the fragrance oil to the wax? This is a super important question that every candle-maker needs to understand. Adding the fragrance at a higher temperature than the fragrance oils flash point may risk the scent being evaporated and the candle's scent being degraded. On the other hand, adding the oils at too low a temperature may prevent the fragrance oil from dissolving and binding to the wax. The general recommendation is to add the fragrance oil to the wax at about 175-185° Fahrenheit (80-85° Celsius). However, different fragrances may have different flashpoints, and if the flashpoint is lower than 185° Fahrenheit, we recommend adding the oil just below the flash point and then mixing the wax and oil for at least two minutes.
When to add color dye to the wax?
If you want to add candle dye, the recommended wax temperature is 185 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure the dye dissolves appropriately.
At what temperature to pour the wax?
Wax is melted, and dye and oils are mixed. Great! Now it's time to let the wax cool a little before you pour it into the candle container. Having a thermometer with a clip fixed to the melting pot, you can easily monitor the temperature and wait for the right time to pour. We recommend pouring slowly at a temperature between 125-135° Fahrenheit, but this may also vary based on the type of wax used.
What to look for in a candle making thermometer?
There are some things that we find handy for the small-batch candle-maker:
- Easy readability - Since the melting point of vegetable waxes is quite low compared to the intended use for meat and candy thermometer, it can be difficult to read the correct temperature because the scale goes so much higher than the 185-190°F needed for most natural vegetable waxes or wax blends.
- Possibility to attach the thermometer to the melting pot - If the thermometer has an adjustable clip, you can easily make it fit different melting pitchers' sizes, and you will get a permanent reading throughout the process. In this way, there will be less chance for spills, and you have both hands free to use for mixing fragrances, preparing the vessels for the pour, and other necessary tasks for a busy candle maker.
- Easy conversion between Celsius and Fahrenheit - not a must, but makes it easier for the beginner candle-maker to follow instructions and experiment if you have a thermometer that reads both scales simultaneously.
To conclude, if you would like to dabble with making your own candles or start a business to make candles for sales, a candle-thermometer is an inexpensive but essential tool to help increase your success rate creating your beautiful candles.