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Candle making additives

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Candle making additives

As the name implies, additives are diverse chemical substances you add to a base of paraffin in order to attain a specific effect or result.

This article introduces you to the available wax additives, their effect (and, sometimes, their side effects) and the situations in which you will use them.

Candle dye and fragrance oils are treated as separate entities on this website and not as additives although, technically speaking, they are.

Candlemaking additives serve multiple purposes:

  • they can raise or lower the melting point of a paraffin wax base,
  • they can opacify the wax or, on the contrary, help make it more translucent,
  • they can help make the colors of the candle more vivid,
  • they may harden the paraffin or make it stickier (when making container candles, for instance),
  • they can give the candle a special decorative effect, like the snowflake effect (see the article about special effects waxes),
  • they can help the wax shrink more when it cools off, making the candle easier to remove from the mold,
  • and much more...

The additives you will probably use the most in candlemaking are stearic acid and Vybar.

Vybar is one of the essential additives in the making of different types of candles

Microcrystalline waxes aren't normally used as a wax base but rather as additives to a paraffin base.

Paraffin (mineral) oil is a popular additive to paraffin when trying to achieve the snowflake effect.

Another additive you may consider using in your candles is the UV-inhibitor. It prevents (or at the very least delays) the premature fading of your colored candles due to the exposition to ultraviolet (or UV) light. When making white candles, add some to prevent the wax from turning yellowish after a long exposition to light.

If you live outside of the United States and don't have access to the extensive selection of wax blends our American friends enjoy, be prepared to make extensive use of different additives to compensate the lack of choice. Sometimes, the mention of some ingredients will sound very weird and you might wonder if, by any chance, I've got some bats in my belfry...

For instance, to achieve a low-shrinkage wax blend for container candles when none is commercially available, you might find yourself using:

If you call the US your home, you can purchase what is called a universal additive. Its composition is a trade secret but it's supposed to contain all the additives you need to achieve great candles. A version specially formulated for soywax is available too. Outside the US, it's notoriously hard to find but don't despair, you don't really need it, the additives available to you will do the job, even if you'll need to do more testing to achieve your perfect candle.

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