Do I need a thermometer to make candles?

The short answer: Yes! :)

Why do you need a thermometer for candle-making? 

When making your own 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 the temperature for 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 you should use when heating and melting the wax. For most soy waxes, the melting point is about 185-190° Fahrenheit (85-88° Celsius). We would want the wax to be completely melted and in a liquid state 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 the 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 that the scent is evaporated and that the candle's scent is degraded. 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 mix the wax and oil for at least two minutes.

When to add color dye to the wax?

If you want to add color dye to the candle, the recommended wax temperature is 185 degrees Fahrenheit to make sure the dye dissolves properly. 

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 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 thermometers, 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. 

We took into account the above reasons when we developed our Scandinavian Candle Co. Candle Making Thermometer. We also added visual color zones to the temperature scale on the thermometer. We have a red zone that indicates that you need to be careful as you are in the higher temperature zone that may deteriorate the wax, a green zone for when to prepare for adding the dye and fragrance, and a yellow cooldown zone. 

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.