Natural and Holistic Candles have become increasingly popular as we have become more aware of our well-being.
Non-toxic candle making can only be achieved through natural candle making.
Natural candle making refers to candles made without toxins such as paraffin, phthalates, synthetically manufactured fragrances, and zinc core wicks.
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How do you make non-toxic candles?
Making non-toxic candles requires a little research on the products used to make your candles and selecting ingredients for candles free of known hazards when burning. The three main ingredients for a non-toxic candle are:
- A natural unprocessed candle wax
- A non-chemically treated wick
- A naturally infused essential oil
What is the best natural candle wax?
Beeswax is the best natural candle wax. It can be used in a candle container, tapered, or as a pillar candle without any additives. It is readily available and reasonably priced.
It is important to know the brand of candle wax you are starting with and how it is processed.
The most natural is untreated beeswax or vegetable wax. Untreated candle wax in this context is not bleached or refined to remove natural odor.
Expect beeswax in its natural form to be filtered many times but to also have a smokey scent. It will also have a natural clay-like yellow tone.
Beeswax is also the most common natural wax used for pillar candles because of its strength.
Using beeswax in a candle has the closest connection to nature and grounding properties. There is no good scientific evidence to support this, but beeswax has been used for hundreds of years for treating conditions such as pain and fungal infections.
In folklore, it has been mentioned to hold cleansing properties like sage when burned.
Beeswax mixed with frankincense oil is frequently found together to cleanse or rid of pain, and fungal, or viral illnesses. Added lavender could represent renewal.
Chemicals or toxins found in paraffin or polymers would compete or dampen the ability for the natural effects of this recipe. It may not completely hinder the candle but would lessen the intent. It would be like cleaning with dirty water. Thus, the importance of understanding the wax you are working with.
If you are interested in making intention candles or learning the meaning behind the colors, crystal, herbs, etc., I have an article that goes into more depth making candles with intention.
When using soy wax, it is important to verify that it is 100%* soy and not tart wax. It is often sold as a container wax such as Golden Brand (GB) 464.
Candle wax blends GB 415 or GB 416 have chemical additives that make them a better fit for tarts, but they are not all-natural. Most soy waxes have trace chemicals.
Chemical additives in candle waxes although harmless, are debatable if truly natural. Those following a holistic lifestyle could have an issue so use care to use an absolutely chemical-free wax.
Additional natural candle waxes are coconut and apricot.
Coconut Wax is made from the meat of the coconut.
Coconut Oil which is solid at room temperature and is natural. It can be added to beeswax to soften the wax to make it more suitable for a container candle. This would keep the candle wax blend as an all-natural mix of beeswax and coconut oil.
Apricot Wax has become a popular luxury wax. Cold pressing the kernel and hydrogenating the apricot oil produce the wax. It is claimed to burn 80% cleaner than soy but it is often mixed with paraffin to harden. Exactly what is used in this process is proprietary so the composition is a mystery.
Soy Wax is also processed the same way and what trace amounts of substances are used to hydrogenate either one of these may not make a difference in the outcome of the intention candle. Both of them are very clean-burning candles.
It is important to understand that although soy is a natural wax, it is processed under heated conditions with a catalyst of fine nickel dust to hydrogenate or cause it to solidify. It is NOT absolutely pure. Soy oil or any vegetable oil when harvested is a liquid and must be processed to become and remain a hard wax.
Soot coming from a candle happens when the wick is burning too hot (wick too large). Sometimes this happens with cheap candles when a manufacturer tries to make a one size fits all process and a poorly-fitted wick gets a bad wrap.
Bayberry Wax is another luxury wax blend that can be all-natural if you make it yourself. This has been made for hundreds of years by simmering the berries of the Bayberry bush and harvesting the wax that floats to the top.
This is a very nice wax and does well in a container or a pillar. It was used as a replacement for tallow candles because it does not go rancid. It is very labor intense and not affordable to most. It also holds essential oils better than beeswax.
The Bayberry wax has a natural spicy fragrance that can be used as a candle on its own. These were often made for special occasions such as Christmas or religious holidays or rituals. Bayberry is a very spiritual candle wax.
A beeswax-based candle often serves as a meditative or grounding base to an intention candle whereas Bayberry often serves as an intuitive or spiritual intention candle.
Beeswax is a hard wax, also known to be difficult to produce a hot throw. Adding the coconut oil or 100% soy wax to creating a blend can help with this. Often a 25-30% ratio is used. With candle testing beeswax with this blend could possibly be used as a votive or stout pillar.
Some candle wax blends can be accomplished by creating a core for burning and a shell for presentation. The shell often warms with the flame but does not reach the melt pool. In advance candle making. The shell is sometimes made in combination with herbs, crystals, stones, or charms.
If you would like to read more on blending candle wax.
When making a pillar candle, the outer edges of the candle ( 1/8″ – 1/4″ wall ) are not supposed to burn. The candle wick is intended to burn in the center and contain the melt pool without the aid of a container. Selecting a wick is key. Too small and the candle just will not burn correctly. Too large and the wax will melt and spill over the edges or create a larger risk of fire.
Slightly larger wick sizing is how dripping candles are made. This is when the wax melts faster than the candle mixture burns as fuel.
The base or foundation of an intention candle is established in the direction in which we want to move our energy. We want to focus downward to ground and focus or upward for insight and clarity.
Selecting a Natural Candle Wax
The candle wax is the foundation of a candle and the beginning of the recipe. It accounts for about 90% of the mixture and should be the focus of natural candle making.
When we think of a downward direction we are referring to the connection to the planet or earth. This interpretation can mean several things to different people so keep an open mind.
Our world comes from grounding and balance. Bringing ourselves back and keeping firmly rooted develops stamina and aids in our protection.
When we think of an upward direction we are referring to the connection to a higher awareness or being. This can also mean many things. This is very personal to one’s self. Understanding what our spiritual needs give us direction and purpose.
Choosing your natural candle wax can create a complex combination for a candle. There is no specific choice for grounding or one for lifting it is the combination of elements that determines the effect.
Bees are a very majestic creature and God’s gift to us. Beeswax does not go rancid (honey does not spoil). Bees harvest from the earth to create life and the hive serves and protects its Queen on instinct. This is coded in its DNA.
As a natural candle wax, there is no greater connection to earth or our rooted being. Beeswax is a grounding choice.
Bayberry wax would be a runner-up to beeswax but it is not practical. It’s not readily available to most. It can be used if available as a much better choice for soy as it is an absolute natural wax. If this is available to you, try your hand at making some candles with this lovely wax. Here is a link for a how-to.
Natural soy candle wax is of the earth as it is a vegetable wax. Golden Brand 464 is readily available and is considered a neutral base for intention candles. It can be mixed with beeswax to create a container candle or to assist in a hot throw.
The trace amount of additives in soy wax is what makes it the third choice. It is still a very fine candle wax and the percentage found I do not think interferes.
Coconut and apricot or a blend are new to the market and the composition is not familiar to me. However, they should be similar to soy as the oils would need to be hydrogenated to form a wax.
We will put these in as a runner-up to soy but feel free to experiment. I don’t think that trace amounts of additives at this level would hinder the intention. However, use caution as many have paraffin added.
Coconut oil is a little different because it can be purchased organic and added in lesser percentages to soften harder waxes and help with a hot throw or fragrance retention.
Unlike the other waxes, this can create a fluid characteristic and a transition between a base and essential oil. It can be used as a carrier. Coconut oil cannot stand alone as candle wax.
Selecting a Natural Candle Wick
Braided Cotton is the best choice for candlewick making. The weight of the thread and the thread count correspond to the width or diameter of the candle. Wick testing in natural candle making is the same as any candle making.
Braided Hemp is another good choice for natural candle making. Again, depending on how in-depth you would like to carry out this practice, researching the processing would make a difference. If organic is important to you, research specifically for this feature.
Having complete control over every aspect of natural candle making would require making each component.
Commercial wicks are treated with undisclosed chemicals to control or retard the burning process and assist in standing upright while candle-making. Again, the holistic value or interference with commercial wicks is negotiable.
Wooden Wicks are another good choice for natural candle making and are another opportunity to add an element to your natural candle. Like other wicks, they are paired to the container or pillar size with thickness and width.
Some wooden wicks have a secondary wick called a booster to assist in the burning of your candle.
Most of these are made from balsam wood but can be made of your choosing. The wooden wicks need to be pre-soaked in oil prior to pouring your wax so that they are primed for your candle. Balsam wood wicks are easy to cut, and shape, and are readily available.
How to Make Homemade Candle Wicks
Making a natural candle wick can be as fun and as creative as making the candle. This part of the natural candle making craft may require more candle testing than standard candle testing, but it is worth it in the end. Developing a line of all-natural and unique candles is a craft like no other.
Wicks can be made from cotton or hemp butcher’s twine or heavy thread. You have control over the braid style and the pocket size between the braid. The amount of oxygen a flame is fed can be accentuated by tiny openings within the braid.
This can manipulate how a wick burns. A very hard wax like beeswax or bayberry works best with a high-quality wick.
Homemade Candle Wick Recipe
- To make an all-natural wick for candles dissolve 3 tablespoons of salt to each 1 cup of distilled warm water.
- Soak the wicks or spool (loosely) to length in the solution for at least 24 hours.
- After the wicks have soaked, hang to dry for another 24-48 hours.
- Dip the candle wicks building a few layers of hot wax and shape.
- These can be pinned straight to dry.
- Let cure for 24 hours before using.
Homemade Ribbon Candle Wick Recipe
- To make ribbon wicks crochet heavy cotton embroidery thread to make a mesh.
- Soak the wick as instructed above.
- These can be molded into shapes to match your candles such as crescent moons.
Wooden wicks can also be shaped. Wooden Wick Co. sells tube wicks and curved wicks.
Most attach wicks using wick tabs for container candles and wicks are pulled through pillar candle molds.
It is more important to secure the wick than it is to debate the effect of the glue dot leeching into the candle but if you must, secure the wick with wax. I must warn you that the wick shifting could be disastrous.
Selecting a Natural Candle Container or Candle Mold
In natural candle making, we also want to be environmentally responsible. Using a container that can be recycled or reused that does not have a negative impact on the environment is where we want to start.
A karmic balance is important when making candles with “Intention”
- Glass containers can be beautiful and typically do not react with their contents. Tin can be recycled but sometimes is reactive.
- Rust or oxidation could be viewed as negative energy captured in the intention candle.
- Vessel colors and shapes can play a role also.
- Grounding candles are round.
- Prayer candles are taller 2x taller than they are wide and so on.
- Triangular or pyramid candles are used to seek communication or realization.
- Candle cores shaped in stars can be dipped and carved.
Often natural candles have a soy base core and are encapsulated with a beeswax shell to eliminate the need for a container completely. The beeswax shell can be refilled.
Another very popular natural container is the farmhouse dough bowl. These can be naturally stained and sealed with a hard wax like beeswax and filled with soy.
These are excellent housewarming gifts and make great blessing candles or harvest candles.
How to Infuse Herbs Into Candles
Just like any oil, natural candle wax can be heated to no more than 185 degrees to steep fresh or dried herbs. Recipes can be developed to include elements such as rosemary and steeped for a few hours in a slow cooker or simmered in a double boiler to blend into the candle wax. The candle wax is then ultra-filtered. The strength of the scent would require testing.
Herbs should be added to the candle wax at least when the candle is poured or before. Herbs can also be placed within candle container sides as decoration so that the candle wax will pick up some of the fragrance. Larger herbs or sections work best so as to not interfere with the wick and cause clogging.
What is a wickless candle?
Wickless Candles are infused with herbs and the herbs are left as is in the candle wax. These are usually made in 4-ounce tins and are meant for candle warmers. These have aromatic benefits without the fire hazards associated with intention candles. There is no concern that the wick will clog as well.
Wickless candles are a wax melt in a container such as a jar or tin safe for a candle warmer.
How to Naturally Color Candles With Herbs and Spices
Steeping herbs and spices in oil is a natural way to color candle wax. Making a red color, for example, heating oil to 180 degrees and adding hot chili peppers will turn the oil red. The oil is ultra-filtered and can be added to the candle wax for color.
Natural candle wax colors are softer than synthetic dyes. An all-natural candle can also be colored by steeping flowers and berries with low water contents. Sometimes it is easier to use the skin of blueberries, for example, than the whole berry.
Whatever you choose to create a color must be oil-based or oil-based friendly.
Ultra-filtering can often be done using two pieces of muslin stacked on each other and the hot wax or oil poured through.
Making Candles With Infused Oils
It is important to keep a journal of your recipes and keep everything labeled. Your testing results will determine which recipes for the candles you keep.
Often natural candle making and candles with intention of meditation or relation to chakras are tied together. They have similar customers. Keep that in mind when making this type of candle to sell. Here are some examples.
Chili peppers may make a great red color but the spicy scent overpowers the scent of rose petals you added. That may be a wild example, but this demonstrates the need to journal the characteristics of your testing.
Paprika also makes a nice red color. It has an earthy tone and the smokey fragrance is fitting with the smokey fragrance of beeswax so it fits and is harmonic.
Red is symbolic of power and energy. Chili peppers may move you forward for success when you need a boost to overcome challenges. Red can also be balance and energy grounding you to the root of your focus of who you are.
Paprika, also a pepper, is more in control (grounded). It is red with a hint of green, it’s earthy sister.
Beeswax has a unique color tone and adding infused oils can affect that color and scent. Each process should be thought out first. The final combination may result in something completely different from than planned.
Infusing Essential Oils for Natural Candles
Fragrance oils are traditionally used in candle making. These are formulated specifically to be burned and to produce a scent that is broadcast. Many of these a synthetically produced through chemical replication and of course proprietary information.
Natural essential oils are missing the chemical additives that help stabilize the bond to the candle wax and present challenges in this type of candle making.
Not all essential oils are created equal. Read about making candles with essential oils here.
Before using essential oils in candles it is important to make sure that what you are using is suitable. Some essential oils although all-natural are also toxic if burned.
Some essential oils can be very toxic if swallowed or applied to the skin without proper dilution. Always use care and safe handling. Keep out of reach of children and pets.
Unlike fragrance oil, it takes more essential oil to create the same effect. Fragrance oils are a more concentrated formula even though essential oils are not in a diluted carrier oil. Often this is determined by the quality of the essential oil and the strength of the scent naturally.
Steeping oils or candle wax as mentioned above to add fragrances from flowers, herbs, or spices is a natural method to fragrance candles.
Not all candles need to overpower the bathroom or fill a completely great room. Relaxing next to a candle in a cozy chair with a book and a soft lamp for reading can be nice as well.
Candles For Meditation
Using candles for meditation has been around for hundreds of years. Candle gazing can add a layer of relaxation by helping you focus. Picking a fragrance is personal and is often found using Ylang Ylang, Lavender, Jasmine, Chamomile, Citrus, and Dragon’s Blood.
How to Prepare Crystals, Gems, or Stones for Candles
Each element you choose to add to your natural candle or your intention candle should be cleaned with a soft brush to remove any loose debris first. They also need to be cleansed.
For this, you will need a shallow bowl and either sea salt or Himalayan salt. Fill the bowl with salt. Place the crystals, gems, or stones on top of the bed of salt. You do not need to completely cover them.
Leave them on the bed of salt for 24-48 hours to cleanse the negative energy.
Because salt is corrosive, do not leave any of the elements in the salt bed for storage. Do not rinse or use water. Store in a secure container for later use.
How to Add Crystals, Gems, or Stones to Your Candles
Salts or salt compounds “pop” when they heat up and can create issues. Make sure the salt is completely brushed off after cleaning.
Some crystals are porous and do not do well in a candle as they heat up. Most common crystals like quartz are fine. Do testing and research before using these.
Unlike herbs that need to be added at least when the candle is poured, they can be added after the candle has congealed so that they sit on top and are visible. They can be added at a later time using a heat tool to soften the top placing them in position.
Adding stones too soon will cause them to sink to the bottom. If your goal is a surprise candle then that’s perfect! To suspend them, pour the candle in layers placing the stone in between layers.