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Candle dye

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Candle dye

Candles would be sad if they all were white!

To bring some life and fun to your creations, all you have to do is color the wax you will use to mold (or dip) your candles.

It's easy and it makes a real difference!

You probably read our article about paraffin wax, so you remember that the word paraffin comes from the latin parum affinis that means little affinity.

And that "little affinity" applies to candle dyes too: they don't actually change the color of the wax but instead create a uniform suspension that creates the illusion of a colored wax.

Add candle dye in VERY small increments to the wax, especially in the beginning. Very little is needed to color a lot of paraffin and it's always much easier to add some dye than remove some.

Candle dye is most commonly available in two forms:

  • In powder, pellet, flake or disc form
    The most frequent form; a very small quantity can colour a large quantity of paraffin.
    You can buy it as a dye disc, that you then break in small pieces to add to the paraffin, as pellets or as a powder
    To achieve vivid colors, just add more dye.

  • In liquid form
    Conditioned in small bottles with or without a dropper.
    An advantage of liquid dye is that it can be precisely measured (very useful if you need to reproduce a same color at different times).
    Liquid dye is highly concentrated (watch out for your hands, clothing and equipment) and a little goes a very long way.

    Liquid dye is the only way to go to color candle gel.
These candle dyes come in flake form

Pigments

There's a third form of coloring agent used in candlemaking: pigments. Pigments are extremely concentrated but have the nasty tendency to clog the wick and prevent the candle from burning properly.

For this reason, pigments should be used only to color a dipping wax (for example to make a Dip 'n Carve candle or as a finishing layer for taper candles) and not to color the wax used to make pillar, votive or container candles.

 

You may have heard of people using wax crayons (like Crayola) to color candle wax.

Wax crayons are often used to color candles. Unfortunately, they're not a very wise choice.

Wax crayons are made for toddlers to draw rainbows, absolutely not to color paraffin wax and if you do, expect disappointing results: a poor uniformity of the color and a real risk of clogging the wick are two things that might happen when you use wax crayons.

Because they're not concentrated like actual candle dye is, you'll end up using a lot of them, it will cost you more and you probably won't like the result.

Every color in the rainbow

There's no need to have a candle dye for every color out there.

Get the three base colors (red, bue and yellow), black and optionally a couple of intermediate colors that are trickier to achieve by mixing like purple and brown.

With a little practice, you will soon be able to create pretty much any color shade you want by mixing the base colors.

If you really want to get cracking with color mixing, I highly recommend using liquid dyes. They are a lot easier to measure precisely. Also, keep a notebook where you write down the exact proportions of candle dye you have been using to achieve a specific color.

The color of a wax in liquid state and that of the finished candle can be considerably different. To get an idea of what a color will look like when the wax has cooled off, drop a small quantity of colored, liquid wax onto a white plate or a sheet of waxed paper and let it completely cool down. The result is the color you can expect when the candle comes out of the mold.

Even better: keep those little colored wax samples (away from light), number it and reference it in your notebook. This way, you will always know how to reproduce your favorite colors. This, of course, will only work if you use the same amount (and the same type) of wax every single time.

Whiter than white

For various reasons, like the slight coloration fragrance oils can give the wax, it isn't always easy to achieve perfectly white candles.

If adding stearic acid does not help, you can purchase white candle dyes that should help you make milky white candles.

Black is black

image © Lovetoknow

As strange as it may seem, it can also be surprisingly hard to make charcoal black candles.
Most black dyes I've used in my candlemaking career tend to produce a really dark blue or a really dark purple, even in high proportions.

Finding a black dye that gives you good results may require some trial and error with multiple dye brands and suppliers. When you find one that satisfies you, don't let go of it and stock up if you can.

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