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Starting out - essentials?


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I'm fairly new to candlemaking - I have a dozen votive molds, a little wax, a few scents and colors, and a Fry Daddy that I melt wax in. :smiley2: Needless to say, that keeps me doing things on a very small scale. Right now I make candles upon requests from friends and family, but I'd like to branch out, maybe see if I can get a couple of local gift shops interested or get enough of an inventory built up to go to local craft fairs.

What would you say is the bare minimum needed to do this on any sort of commercial level, even limited as I've described above? How do you set up to melt more than just a couple of pounds of wax at a time, or have different colors ready to be made up? How many molds? Do you focus on one thing (i.e., just votives), or do you do several (votives, containers, and pillars, for example)? What kind of space should I think about setting up?

Any tips or suggestions you could offer would be greatly appreciated. I'm a single mom and would love to get to where I could bring in enough extra cash doing this to make a bit of difference to my monthly budget. :)

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What kind of wax did you get? Container candles need a softer wax than say a pillar or votive.

You didn't mention wicks. The kind of wick you need depends on the type of candle you are going to make.

Its best to buy a sample assortment of different size wicks so you can test them out in your candle.

If we know what wax you have and what candle you want to make I am sure you can give you some advice on where to start.

Welcome to CT!

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To me, the essentials are:

Heat gun (I have 3 for fear one will break in the middle of an order)

Good scale

Good notes

Tons of paper towels

Presto pots (I have 4, plus 2 Turk n Surfs)

Pour pots - as many as possible!

Molds - as many as possible

Frangrances - as many as possible, and then some

On the extra money part, and selling in gift shops, slow down just a bit and make sure your product is as good as it can be. I've been selling candles for 3 years, retail and wholesale, and I think I made a profit last year. This is not going to make you money, in fact, it will cost you money at first. Especially once you start trying difference scents!!

I'm not trying to sound discouraging, just being realistic. You need to test every item you make, in every scent you make to be sure of it's quality.

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  • 1 month later...

Thank you so much for the thoughts, y'all! I realize this won't make me money anytime soon, that's why I haven't quit my day job (believe me, the thought of doing that has been tempting, because it sucks :D ). And none of this is discouraging at all - the impetus behind it is that I'm considering moving to where my boyfriend is (gotta be in the same place if we want to take the next step and get married), and if we're thinking of starting a business, I *need* a realistic idea of how long it might take to get it up and running and what kind of investment I might need to be making in experimentation and equipment and what have you. I also know that I'm at the very, very beginning of the process and nowhere near ready to open up shop right now. So I'm soliciting any thoughts I can get, and please, no one think you're being discouraging. Realism is good, and much appreciated.

I've been doing this for about a year now, off and on (at this point, it really can only be called a hobby), and so far I've only made votives with soy waxes. I have the supplies to make container candles (wax and wicks specifically for containers and a boatload of glassware), but haven't tried my hand at it yet. I'd like to get into containers and pillar candles, and I'd love to make the layered candles with different scent layers.

Candybee, that's a good suggestion about the wick samplers. I'd ordered the two different kinds, votives and containers, but the samplers would give me different types of wicks for each size of candle to see which works best, right? That would be helpful.

Carole, if I were doing big batches, there's no way I'd use the little kettle I have (and now that I see Trish's post, mine is a Presto pot, not a Fry Daddy - I misspoke!). It has a "warm" setting and that's how I keep the wax at a low enough temperature. So far it's worked fine, but I know it's not a long-term solution.

What kind of work space do you have? Since mine is such a small deal at the moment, I just work in my kitchen, but again, this isn't workable long-term or if I want to do much more than what I'm doing now. Do you have a separate room? A separate workshop? A space in your garage?

If I wanted to put a little money into things right now, what would y'all suggest? I've got a good bit of wax, for both votives and containers - I haven't tried out all the kinds I have yet, but I've got a good bit. I'd think I could use some more votive molds and pins, and some more scents and dyes (I think right now I have about four colors!). And paper towels, for sure (because I do use a ton of them). Any other suggestions?

Also, cleaning - how do you clean your equipment? Right now I've got some citrus-based cleaner that works well, but boy, it's a pain to wipe each and every little thing by hand. But, if that's what it takes, that's what it takes. I just thought I'd ask for suggestions on that front as well, while I'm asking.

Thanks again for any input. I'm giving this so much thought, I'm not getting much work done. :laugh2:

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