Curing is the last process in candle making. After a candle has been poured and congealed it is not finished.
Yes, a candle continues to create a bond between the wax and the fragrance oil as quickly as 48 hours to as long as 2 weeks. This is the curing process. Candles that contain a heavier fragrance load or an unusually dense fragrance may need a few more days. Candles that have not been cured are not considered shelf-stable and salable products yet.
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Candles that have not been cured have a high risk of sweating fragrance. Sometimes this happens with soy waxes. The wax usually will absorb the fragrance oil that appears on the top of the candle if left to age for about 2 weeks.
This fragrance oil puddling on top can be a fire hazard for a candle if burned prematurely. Place a lid on the candles and store them in a cool dry place. They can be labeled and handled but not shipped.
Wick testing of a candle can be performed after 3 days. At this curing level, the interest is the performance of the wick, not the hot throw. Candle testing for hot throw should be on a candle that is at least 2 weeks old.
Uncured candles will have a melt pool with an inconsistent fragrance to wax mix and often separate. Fragrances used with a lower flashpoint can flare up with a large flame. When the candle cools the fragrance can sit on top of the wax and ruin the candle.
Transversely, adding fragrance oil while the wax is too hot will reduce the amount of fragrance oil available while the candle is in the curing process.
During the candle making process, it is important to add the fragrance oil at the correct temperature to have the optimum available load during the curing phase.
Adding the fragrance while the wax is too cool the fragrance oil will not bind with the wax. Curing will not change this.
The candle will smell longer if it has been cured. The fragrance will burn at the appropriate mix and rate with the wax.
Additionally, adding higher levels of colorant or additives may also impact the curing times for candles. It should be minimal but worth mentioning. Dye blocks in dark brown or black are notorious for giving me trouble.
Stearic acid is often added to softer soy waxes to help retain the fragrance oil and will speed up the curing process as well. Again, this is not something you can see with the naked eye unless there is visible oil on the top of the candle.
Fragrances have a shelf life of about a year and some that have a high content of vanillin often will crystalize making it difficult for the wax to distribute the fragrance oil evenly. Try to use fragrance oils within the first 6 months of purchase. Candlemakers tend to collect fragrance oils! Shake them well and check before use.
How long do candles need to set?
The candle curing process is not something that the average candle maker can determine scientifically before releasing the line of candles made. This is why I have a standard 2-week curing time. Harder waxes like paraffin take less time to cure. The more natural softer waxes like soy take longer.
Do you cure candles with lids on or off?
Yes, but the lid protects the candle from contaminants such as dust. A candle does not require a lid to cure. However, if you are in a hot or humid environment the candle is vulnerable for the next 2 weeks. The lid will help to protect the contents of the candle.
Do not put a lid on a candle that is still warm. Condensation will collect adding water to your candle and messing up the top.
Candles should be allowed to cool completely for at least 24 hours. Trim the wicks to ¼”. Place a lid on each candle. Label and let cure for about 2 weeks.
If the candle’s vessel design requires a dust cover, do not place it on top until the curing process is complete. Candle dust covers are made with glossy printed paper that will absorb the fragrance oil from the wax. This style of lid for a candle could interfere with the curing process.
How long does it take for candle wax to harden?
Candle wax hardens as it cures for about 2 to 4 weeks. At that time the wax has absorbed about as much fragrance oil as it is going to before it was heated.
If you have a candle that seems to have too much fragrance oil after a 2-week cure, wipe off the excess with a paper towel and let the candle sit for another 2 weeks. It may absorb the fragrance oil by letting it cure for another 2 weeks longer.
How long do you cure beeswax candles?
Beeswax candles take about 3 days and up to a week to cure. This wax is harder and made with a lesser fragrance load. The amount of curing time required for the fragrance to disperse within the beeswax is shorter. This wax is also natural and readily bonds with fragrance oil.
How long do you cure paraffin candles?
Paraffin candles are a harder wax and require less curing time. The amount of fragrance oil used is less. Most pillar candles made from 100% paraffin require a second pour. The candles need to sit and harden in the molds for at least 24 hours. Paraffin candles that have been fragranced are cured for about 48 hours before handling.
How long do you cure coconut wax candles?
Coconut wax candles hold a fragrance load of about 8%, sometimes more, and should cure for about 3 days up to about a week. Coconut candle wax is made from the meat of the coconut with paraffin blends to make it a harder wax.
How long do you cure wax melts?
Wax melts that are made with paraffin wax or a blend should cure about 48 hours and soy tart wax should cure about 48 to 72 hours. This is only to allow packaging without handling a potentially oily feeling product.
Because there is no burning for a wax melt, the curing process is not as critical to the performance. However, allowing the wax time to absorb the fragrance oil completely is still important.
How long do you cure gel wax candles?
Gel candles are made from a petroleum base and are not wax. Once the fragrance has been added to the heated gel and the candle has cooled, there is no curing involved.