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TallTayl

Let’s talk about temps

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Like many of you, I have been searching for the holy grail of waxes. I have blended this and that, researched, purchased and tested every manner of additive, emulsifier, and magic bean possible. 

 

When i I look back at the melting instructions and photo logs of candles made, something hit me. All additives have their own set of properties, including melting/cooling point and rates of cooling. I’ve witnessed some additives congealing right in a burning candle’s melt pool! 

 

The cauliflower tops are only on “some” soy wax blends, flaky tops are on others. Some have baby butt smooth tops no matter what. Manufacturers are coy with their ingredients, with naked soy wax presumably being the base. It’s anyones guess what emulsifiers and such are added, but we all have some ideas.  

 

Just from what what I have experienced making hundreds of test candles with various waxes it’s easy to discover that additives are sensitive to melt temps and mixing. As I watch the melted wax cool some portions of waxes cool quicker than others, making the uneven tops, grains and cavities. This makes temps the manufacturers provide pretty important, along with STIRRING AS IT COOLS. No need to beat it, just keep it in motion cooling QUICKLY so everything is evenly distributed. For soaping oils that are prone to settling out, the term i learned is “votated”.

 

so, maybe the manufacturers’temp instructions are more than just “binding” fragrance, but evenly distributing ALL of the additives. Add an FO too cool and it might not be dispersed well causing what some manufacturers call “drift” as the emulsifying additives just can’t do their job well unless within the right range of temp.. 

 

Hoping  @Kerven to chimes in. 

 

What do YOU Think?

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*chime*

 

The effects of temperature on waxes is a loaded topic. Not sure where to begin... or end.

 

I'll skim the surfaces a little.

 

IMO, it mostly affects crystal formation, but that's also tied to additives, which makes those important as well. Additives run the gamut. You've got congealers and rheology adjusters, crystal modifiers, thermal stabilizers, antifoaming agents and surfactants, preservatives (antioxidants), opacifiers, hardeners, strengtheners, elastomers and polymers in general, UV/color stabilizers, a plethora of fatty acids, esters, glycerides... I've even seen patents for candles that use resins and polyamides (more polymers). They all have a variety of melt points, molecular weights, and nifty uses. Almost all should be nonpolar because soy waxes are nonpolar, so they'll blend well... assuming they're compatible to begin with.

 

Not taking additives into account, temperature mostly affects crystal formation. For example, pouring palm wax at a high temperature and insulating it for a slow cool down allows for the growth of larger crystals, which gives palm waxes their distinctive textures. That's sort of a two-sided issue, however, as longer cool downs could result in the outside setting up before the center, causing the center to contract as it cools and create cavernous voids, as seen with palm waxes (poke those holes or do the flip), or craters, as seen with soy waxes. Palm waxes are more prone to the cavities because the surface tends to set up quicker than the surfaces of softer, lower melt point soy waxes, which are prone to cratering. A rapid cool down could shock the wax and force the FO and any softer components out, but a gradual cool down at room temperature (especially when poured hot) could cause the same problems as an extended cool down to a lesser degree. Each wax seems to have a happy zone when it comes to the speed of cooling, although, I think most big manufacturers use fans on the bottoms to encourage cooling from the bottom up... or something along those lines (?). An interesting phenomennon with soy waxes are the ugly melt pools after they've cooled. Is it polymerization or cool down temps? A little of both, I'd say.

 

Then, you have the fatty acid profiles of the waxes themselves, which are big ol' trade secrets. Do the manufacturers remove the unsaturated fats for a harder wax? To what degree is it hydrogenated/transesterified? Palm oil, for example, comes in different "flavors". You've got your plain palm oil, hydrogenated palm oil, no-stir (some unsaturated fats removed) palm oil... What does temperature have to do with all that? Fatty acids, esters, and such have differing melt/congeal temps.

 

Soo... About manufacturers' temperature instructions. I take them with a grain of salt. We already know that ambient environmental variables can influence what temps we pour at. We also know that some waxes respond better to certain pouring temps than others. I can't for the life of me use palm wax as an additive in low melt point blends because it rapidly crystallizes before my eyes once the blend gets down to 135F, where it separates out if stirred. Some people (not me) have amazing success with pouring soy waxes at or below 100F. Manufacturers, I presume, base their instructions either on their own set of environmental factors or an average. To the careful and well informed eye, the recommended temperatures could give away the absence of certain additives and narrow the list of possibilities. For example, if the directions say to melt to 150F, the wax is certain to not contain high melt point castor wax flakes, BHT, and maybe microcrystalline wax (that one would be cutting it close). But if directions say to melt to 200F, there very well could be a high melt point additive in it that requires such a high heat.

 

When it comes to graininess, curdling, and such, I think that's mostly tied to the fatty acid profile. Shea butter turning grainy is a perfect example. You can stir and try to keep things evenly distributed as it cools, but that's not always a viable option. For example, when I used palm wax as an additive (mentioned above) with coconut oil, once it reached 135F, any stirring caused the palm wax to immediately crystallize, forming a slushy mass on the surface of the coconut oil which clung to my stirring spatula. After that happened, I melted it down again and tried pouring hot, only to find out that the palm still crystallized first and left a pool of coconut oil at the surface, which eventually cooled down and contracted into extensive caverns. Pouring closer to 140F gave better results but ultimately the wax needed a "middle ground" ingredient to bridge the gap in melt points and add a little elasticity. That is an extreme example, however. For common pre-formulated waxes such as C3 and AAK soys, stirring is beneficial, especially after FO and dye have been added, but probably not as essential as with more sensitive waxes. That's not to say you shouldn't stir anyway but chances are the wax already has something keeping it well blended. Nevertheless, stirring while cooling down to pour temp doesn't hurt. If anything, it'll help.

 

As for adding FO at lower temperatures, well, that goes back to higher melt point components creating the crystalline structure that binds/traps the oils. It also has a bit to do with how fast those crystals grow. We know that soy wax can continue doing that for some time after cooling off (see: curing and frosting). Some waxes do it immediately. So, with a wax like palm, it's probably not a good idea to add it close to the congeal/melt point but palm doesn't hold much FO to begin with. With soy, it's a bit iffy; some might handle it well while others will spit it out. AFAIK, candle FO's are formulated with solvents/diluents that are wax compatible, so there shouldn't be too much issue with the FO not blending in. The issue is more often physical; the FO isn't being "trapped" in the crystalline structure. Chances are, if the candle is leaking FO, it's probably going to spit out coconut oil as well if you used it as an additive... unless you have a weird FO that has something odd (like an incompatible fragrance components (side note: some fragrance components are made into solutions for ease of use or to modify strength, and some of the solvents/diluents used for that purpose may not be compatible), polar components, DPG, or alcohols) in it that the particular candle wax doesn't like.

 

That's my take on it, anyway.

Edited by Kerven
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Thanks kerven.  I had hoped you would share some of the research you’ve completed. 

 

Seems that each time I see candles that did not turn out (namely syneresis in commercially popular wax) it comes down to one of two things, temps or blending, sometimes a combo of both. When I read instructions on FB groups to add the FO at flashpoint it makes me sad and anxious at the same time. Lower FP FO won’t combine properly and higher FP FO raises waxes to temps higher than manufacturers recommend. Only manufacruters know how their product is engineered.

 

ive written before how rate of cooling changes the game. A pot of wax on a bench in a 95*f garage left to cool to pouring temp is not going to look the same as one poured in a 60* basement, of course.  But tools like a fan really can close the gap. the bottom fan technique has worked very well for my operation. I can get pots of wax (and shampoo, conditioner, lotion, etc)  into pouring temp range quickly and repeatably. They must be stirred to clear the edges of the pots, plus stirring cools things more quickly and evenly. Soy, beeswax, etc. blends look shiny and smooth when made this way and tend to not frost or morph nearly as much as those allowed to cool slowly. The stirring combined with rapid cool somewhat mimics commercial votation which is how margarine and some veg oils are commercially prepared. It all made sense once I gave it a try. It solved a LOT of my soy problems immediately.

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32 minutes ago, TallTayl said:

Seems that each time I see candles that did not turn out  it comes down to one of two things, temps or blending, sometimes a combo of both. immediately.

I've had both of those problems recently. I've changed my process to increase the blending temp, keep the FO from being too cold, and stir longer.

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WOW !!! Thanks so much for taking the time . Really great information even though I didn't understand a lot of it lol ! Thanks again :) 

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Have you guys tried Cocopara , I think thats what its called ? I saw this wax on Candles & Supplies. 

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Paracoco (or cocopara) seems to be increasing in popularity. More and more are moving away from soy but want to stay with plant waxes. Unfortunately, the variety of plant waxes is very limited and paraffin is readily available. Haven't tried it myself since I'm trying to go 100% (or as close as possible) plant-based.

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On 10/20/2018 at 12:14 AM, TallTayl said:

Thanks kerven.  I had hoped you would share some of the research you’ve completed. 

 

Seems that each time I see candles that did not turn out (namely syneresis in commercially popular wax) it comes down to one of two things, temps or blending, sometimes a combo of both. When I read instructions on FB groups to add the FO at flashpoint it makes me sad and anxious at the same time. Lower FP FO won’t combine properly and higher FP FO raises waxes to temps higher than manufacturers recommend. Only manufacruters know how their product is engineered.

 

ive written before how rate of cooling changes the game. A pot of wax on a bench in a 95*f garage left to cool to pouring temp is not going to look the same as one poured in a 60* basement, of course.  But tools like a fan really can close the gap. the bottom fan technique has worked very well for my operation. I can get pots of wax (and shampoo, conditioner, lotion, etc)  into pouring temp range quickly and repeatably. They must be stirred to clear the edges of the pots, plus stirring cools things more quickly and evenly. Soy, beeswax, etc. blends look shiny and smooth when made this way and tend to not frost or morph nearly as much as those allowed to cool slowly. The stirring combined with rapid cool somewhat mimics commercial votation which is how margarine and some veg oils are commercially prepared. It all made sense once I gave it a try. It solved a LOT of my soy problems immediately.

Hi TT .... can you elaborate how to set up bottom cooling?  I think this may be something you have told me before. Does the fan not play up with the wax? I have a ceiling fan in my workroom and it is summer here now. I am pouring early morning or evening now to combat this. Also , just wondered if you are rapid cooling before pouring , or when setting? thankyou! 

Edited by obsessed

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@obsessed I set up a wire rack like this one 

CEEDCF1E-914E-41DE-98D5-187349ED5DC7.jpeg

 

 

Mine broke down to two shelf height. A box fan like this is on the bottom pointing upward.

 

46317138-6D01-43D8-9320-7CF28E365DDE.jpeg

 

the wax pots sit above the fan to cool rapidly from the bottom. I stir frequently to move the heat around. Pour my container waxes at about 105.

 

if the wax is poured cool enough the containers can sit on an ordinary countertop usually to finish cooling, or on an upper shelf of this type of rack.

 

cooling from the top forms a skin over the top of my candles which guarantees cavities in my waxes. 

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I’m starting to understand why I’ve never had problems with tins or short. Fat glass containers, but the jars are giving me fits. I cool my candles in a granite countertop and usually move them after a few minutes. This is enough to make the wax cool from the bottom in some containers, but not in taller glass containers. My answer may be as simple as to move the jars to a cool spot on the countertop every few minutes. I was putting them together in a box so they would cool slower, but I think my box shouldn’t have a bottom.

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The goal is “even” cooling. Cold countertops chill my containers too fast as the counter draws the heat unevenly. 

 

palm candle makers see the line in the crystallized wax that supports the observation.

 

 In all my soy blends, invariably the line of cavities is always 1/4”-1/2” from the bottom where the wax solidifies too quickly. It is true for every single manufacturer of soy tested. Pouring very cool into warmed jars (to prevent jump lines) has resolved the issue in my case. I do not warm tins as you can’t see jump lines through the sides. Hot wax is expanded. Cooled wax does not shrink as much or as unevenly, so few to no cavities. 

 

You could raise them on a wire shelf to see  if the air flow surrounding the jars improves the cool down. 

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38 minutes ago, GoldieMN said:

lol Definitely going to try this when I start testing C3.  Thanks!

GoldieMN

Once you get your timing down, @GoldieMN, there is little to no need to heat gun.  When pouring on the cool side the tops are naturally more level since the insides do not need to shrink nearly as much as when poured hot.  The volume difference between hot wax and cool is massive. 

 

Stirring gently but thoroughly with a wide silicone spatula minimizes any little air bubbles that mar surfaces. 

 

I hope this method works well well no matter which waxes you choose. 

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@TallTayl Let's see if I have this suggestion right:  Use a wire rack with a fan (as described above) to cool the melted wax that is still in the pour pots.  Then slow down the cooling of the candles by using heat under or around the jars.

GoldieMN

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6 hours ago, GoldieMN said:

@TallTayl Let's see if I have this suggestion right:  Use a wire rack with a fan (as described above) to cool the melted wax that is still in the pour pots.  Then slow down the cooling of the candles by using heat under or around the jars.

GoldieMN

Yes to the wax in the pour pot.  

 

If using glass, I warm them before pouring just to prevent jump lines. In my case the glass (and ceramic) sit in hot water until ready to pour. It makes the glass spic an span so the adhesion remains wonderful.

 

When using tins I do not heat them. They just get poured on the normal work bench. 

after they are poured I just leave them be til cold. No added hat/cold is usually needed.  When poured at the right low temp I no longer need to repair tops or go fishing for cavities. 

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Oh, I also have an air cleaner in the shop with a turbo setting.  The air vents from the top. When making one pot I sit the pot right on top and save some room. 

 

065107C8-2E8D-45AB-B46A-7B8E5A3BE813.jpeg

 

you could use a fan fan blowing sideways, but it’s not nearly as efficient and tends to cool the top of the wax too quickly. 

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On 12/7/2018 at 1:30 AM, TallTayl said:

@obsessed I set up a wire rack like this one 

CEEDCF1E-914E-41DE-98D5-187349ED5DC7.jpeg

 

 

Mine broke down to two shelf height. A box fan like this is on the bottom pointing upward.

 

46317138-6D01-43D8-9320-7CF28E365DDE.jpeg

 

the wax pots sit above the fan to cool rapidly from the bottom. I stir frequently to move the heat around. Pour my container waxes at about 105.

 

if the wax is poured cool enough the containers can sit on an ordinary countertop usually to finish cooling, or on an upper shelf of this type of rack.

 

cooling from the top forms a skin over the top of my candles which guarantees cavities in my waxes. 

You are so generous with your hep and recommendsations ... thnkyou a illion times over! So sorry for my typing ... it is 2am and I have been out for our xmas practise for our belly-dancing hafla!! LL Dinner & drinks ensued lalalalalalalalalalaaaa aye! ehehehehe get your shimmies on girls and embrace sisterhood xoxoxo  shimmy ;)

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Sounds like fun @obsessed! Hopefully this method helps someone. It works for all my waxes.

 

Beeswax I need to pour warmer and just deal with the huge cavities as it is a totally different animal with a wicked high melt point,  but beeswax still needs to pour cooler than the melter temp to keep from sticking in the molds. The fan and rack saves the day.

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