Knowing how to melt wax for making candles is crucial as you will need to mold them to your liking. It is a skill that you must know well if you are going to go into candle making. There are several reasons as well as ways to melt wax. Below I detail everything you need to know about this craft, so you will do it correctly and safely. So continue to read on if you are new to the candle making business, or you just want to brush up on your knowledge.
There are a couple reasons you may want or need to melt wax. The first and foremost is that so you can mold the wax into a creation or specific shape. Wax in its solid state is obviously hard and therefore nearly impossible to change the shape of it. So, if you want to create a wax sculpture or get the wax into a specific container for a candle, the best option is definitely to melt the wax.
Another common reason for melting wax is to make wax 'melts' or 'tarts', which I will explain in the section below.
Also referred to as 'tarts', wax melts have been starting to grow in popularity in recent years. They are essentially just pieces of wax usually molded into a rectangle that contains the same aromas as any other candle. The only difference is how they are ignited. They have no wick, so you don't burn them. Instead, you place them on a warmer, usually a hot plate powered by electricity, and it melts the wax to dispell a beautiful and clean aroma. For the best wax warmers, be sure to check out our article here.
Benefits of wax melts compared to traditional candles include that they burn cleaner, more evenly, are much safer, and can last for much longer. So, if you want to make wax melts now, all you have to do is follow one of the steps below for melting wax, and then form it into whatever shape you desire.
I don't intend to include this section to scare you, but wax melting is definitely the most dangerous process of the candle making process. That's not saying much as the whole process is relatively safe, but it is still crucial that you follow some very basic safety rules. Just by following these simple common sense rules will ensure that you will have no problems.
1. Have a fire extinguisher ready.
Make sure that you always have a fire extinguisher ready to go and withing your reach. It's not just important that it be there, but you should also be comfortable and familiar with how to use it. Beforehand, review the instructions and give it a small test outside. Doing it once before will give you that piece of mind so you won't be nervous if you do have to actually use it.
Hopefully, you will never need to use it, but if you do need it, you will not have time to think about how to use it. It will also be much more stressful in the moment if something is happening. If it is a small fire, you may not even need to use the extinguisher. Something metal and simple like a pot can be used to smother it and quickly put it out without making a mess. Whatever you do, never use water to put out a wax fire. Liquid wax is similar to oil in the way it behaves when around flames, so treat it like an oil fire and you will be fine.
2. Always Watch Your Melting Wax
If you have ever heard the term "a watched pot never boils", that is even more so with melting candle wax. It may seem to take a long time to get the wax to go from solid to liquid. This may tempt you to walk away just for a quick second if it is still solid. But once it has liquefied, the temperature will jump rapidly. Make sure you are constantly monitoring your melting wax, both by visual and take the temperature with a basic thermometer every couple of minutes. Also, make sure you now the flash point of whatever wax you are using. This can easily be found on either the container the wax came in or on the website where you purchased it. Just make sure that the wax is always a decent amount, say 30 - 50 degrees Fahrenheit, below the flashpoint. This is due to the fact that if it reaches or gets near that point, the vapors produced are extremely flammable. Note that if you are using soy wax, it will have a much lower flashpoint than paraffin, so take that into account as well.
3. Electric Heat Source
This next safety tip isn't necessary and may not be possible for everyone, but is still a good thing to keep in mind. Use an electric heat source if possible. If by accident, your wax reaches the flash point, it is less likely for the vapors to find a flame and become ignited by an electric heat source. If you get an open flame on a gas stove it will definitely ignite wax vapors and cause a small or large fire. Many people only have a gas stove, and that is fine as long as you monitor the wax consistently and make sure it doesn't get close to its flashpoint. The electric will only be more forgiving, but it is not a necessity if you follow the other steps. See the methods of melting wax in the next section to see some of the safest ways.
See, those were basic rules that anyone can easily follow and really don't require much more work at all. They are extremely important and will ensure that you don't have any misfortunes in your operation.
So now that you know why to do it, you have the safety precautions, let's get to the fun part; actually melting the wax. Now, there are several ways to do this which can be completed in only a matter of minutes. Here are the quickest and most efficient ways to melt any wax you are using.
This is by far the simplest process on the list, as it only requires you to know how to work a microwave. Simple obtain a microwaveable-safe bowl and crumble the wax up into it. Next just place it in the microwave and set the time for 3-4 minutes. This won't usually melt the wax all the way. So, take the bowl out and stir it around while checking the temperature. Again, as I mentioned in the safety tips, make sure you know the melting and flash point of whatever wax you are using, so know about what temperature it will reach and make sure not to exceed that. Place the wax back in for around two-minute intervals until it is melted.
The only problem people encounter with using a microwave to melt is that they over do it, by just pressing six minutes and not monitoring it. Like any other way, you will still need to check it every couple of minutes. This is definitely the safest and quickest way, as it won't be exposed to gas or other strong igniters.
This method is almost identical in procedure to the microwave, it just may take a little more time. People use it over the microwave as it is more precise and cleaner. It is just about as safe, and this is the method I recommend if you are a beginner. Look up the melting point of your wax, and preheat the oven. Once it is up to that temperature, place your wax inside, and it should take no more than 10 minutes for the wax to be completely liquefied. Check the wax ever couple of minutes to check its progress, and remove it when it's done.
3. Stove Top
This method should be employed by more advanced users as it is the most dangerous way. It is the most common, as some claim that you lose some quality with the other two methods above. The safety issues are especially important for this method, and you should use an electric stove if possible. If not, just be extra careful.
To start off this method, you will want a double boiler set-up, which can be seen above. This helps distribute the heat to the wax evenly.` Never boil wax directly over a stove, that is a recipe for disaster. The pot on the bottom should be filled about half way with water and brought to a boil. Once it is, place the top pot, which contains the wax, in the bottom pot. The boiling water distributes the heat to the top pot quickly and evenly, without burning the wax and minimizes the chances of a fire. Then, just make sure you are constantly monitoring the melting following all of the safety steps. If you do that, you wax should be melted within a couple of minutes.
Melting wax is something that can be fun to do and is helpful for a variety of things. Getting it into liquid form is critical if you wish to shape or mold the wax into anything in particular, or if you want to make wax melts or tarts, which are becoming increasingly popular. If you make candles at all, either to sell or just for fun, you will need to master this essential skill. As you can tell, the methods I listed above are not difficult at all and can be figure out by almost everyone, whether they have a background in candle making or not.
If you have any other good suggestions on how to melt wax, make sure you leave a comment below!
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