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Making Candles Hotter or Cooler.

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I am new to candle making and looking to confirm some information I've found online. I started looking into this because I recently bought an oil warmer and a wax warmer that are powered by tea light candles. This got me wondering if there are different "types" of tea light candles that would be optimal. The distance from the candle to the wax/oil dish is set so all I can control is how hot the candle is in terms of how fast the wax melts / oil heats


As I understand it, there are 5 components to candle making in regards to heat.


1)    Wick Size: Basically the biggest factor in candle heat. I've heard some varied information about how hot or quick different wick materials burn, but at the end of the day fire is fire. Bigger Wick = Bigger Flame = Hotter and Faster Burn. Ofcourse, adding multiple wicks will also add more heat.

2)    Wax Type: Harder waxes and higher grade waxes burn hotter.

3)    Candle “Additives”: Additives such as dye and fragrances (depending on what you use to add scent) have more to do with how "clean" the candles burn (a.k.a. how much soot they produce), but the entire candle formula/blend can affect the temperature and burn speed of the candle. For example, oil burns hotter than water so a candle/wax blend with a lower water content / higher oil content will burn hotter (also certain oils burn hotter than others).

4)    The Container The Candle Is In: The container won't affect the heat of the candle, but it is super important to consider the size and the material of the container you’re using for your candle relative to flame size and heat. Plastic containers can work, but I've heard many people talk about them melting and/or catching fire. Thicker and more heat resistant containers are typically more expensive, but may be worth it for the increased safety when working with bigger/hotter flames.

5)    What you're using the candle for / how long you want it to burn:  I'd prefer a slower burn for any candle because they are longer lasting, but I might prioritize a brighter flame for an outdoor candle or more heat for a wax/oil warmer candle (but not enough heat to cause cracking/damage). Either way, Hotter Burn = Shorter Lasting Candle, so you must balance your priorities. 


I hope this info is helpful! (if it's all correct lol) :)


P.S. If anyone has any specific recommendations or experiences regarding different waxes, wick materials/sizes, fragrance types, dyes, container materials, etc. or any advice in general I'd really appreciate it. Right now I'm just looking to make candles for my self and maybe some gifts, I expect I'll go through a lot of trial and error but any mistakes I could avoid or tips to improve my candles would be great!

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Heat of a candle is most complicated part of candle science which is not easy to understand, and not that many people cares about it.  Which part of candle are you talking about when you say it is hotter or cooler?  Is it flame temperature?  Container temperature?  Melt pool temperature?  Temperature of air around a flame?  And so on...


There are two sources of heat from a burning candle, and they are heat of flame itself and radiation from a flame.  Waxes are fuel and it will burn at same temperature.  Some wax will burn faster and some will burn slower, but it is not going to burn hotter or cooler.  Blue part of a flame is where oxygen is burning, and that is the part that has highest temperature (1,400F).  Yellow part of candle would be next highest temperature which is around 1,200F.  Darker brown inner part of flame has temperature of 1,000F.  Only way to have more blue flame is to supply more oxygen to the flame which could be controlled by convection.  Some wick produce brighter yellowish flame, which means higher temperature of a flame.  That would be hotter burning wick than a wick with darker flame color.  Since we don't have devices to measure these temperatures (Actually there is but so expensive.), we have to guess them by looking at color of flames.  Flame with brighter color would be hotter burning candle.  This does not mean that darker flame will keep the container cooler than brighter one because of radiation.  Some wick will produce more hotter radiation than others.  Once again, there is no way to measure this also.  So, it needs to be determined by observation of melt pool and container temperatures.


It is true that larger flame will heat up the surrounding air quicker, which lead us to believe bigger flame = hotter.  But that does not mean it is hotter.  Bigger flame just covers more area to heat than smaller one would.


Hard paraffin and soft coconut wax has same melt pool temperature when same wick is used.  Soy wax has 13F lower melt pool temperature.  But it has nothing to do with hotter burning or cooler burning characteristics.


Shape of container plays big roll in convection also besides the wick itself.  By finding the wick with right convection and radiation for certain shape of container would be key to control melt pool and safe temperature of a container.  *Leaning flame or dancing flame hitting or getting close to the wall is a different story.


I have to say this is not easy to explain nor easy to understand subject.

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I had the same questions when making wax melts.  Some of the melters I had were rather large, made of thick ceramic which took a lot of heat to melt the wax and release the scent. The distance from the lite to the bottom of the melting bowl was around  4” or so if I remember clearly. 

then I got one from Yankee that was made of much thinner ceramic, and the dish part was maybe 3” or so from the flame. That one got hot in a hurry and burned the wax in the bowl a bit with the tea lite I always used in the other one. 

then I bought the giant pack of tea lites from ikea. They would not melt the wax in either melter, and only burned for maybe 30 minutes from beginning to end.


Long story short, yes there is a difference in heat thrown from different wax fuels. Some very simple paraffins can burn with a tiny zinc wick producing very little heat.  Some soy tea lites need larger CD or ECO series wicks and produce significantly more heat.


this makes both the tea lite and melt formulations more challenging.  You need to predict which waxes work well in combination given the type of melter you have.


good times…. Good times…

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