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More about Tempering

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I accidentally found some interesting links about tempering and thought I'd share them here to help folks who don't understand what it is, what it does and why they might want to bother with it...

The first three photos on this page show some photos of chocolate that reminded me of soy wax... the good, the bad and the ugly...:laugh2:


Recently, we have been talking about "cauliflowering" and its possible causes... In the second set of photos, look at the chocolate on the right that has the extra DROP of water in it...:shocked2:

Here's another fascinating tempering link from Wayne's This and That...


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That's very interesting, thanks for sharing. Do you think that when using a presto that any leftover wax in it when you turn it off and then on again after the wax hardens is being tempered? (hope that made sense) I have often wondered that. I have noticed that my wax is more behaved after I started using the presto than the double boiler.

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I dunno whether it is or not, Erin, but reheating wax often DOES improve it... This thread started by Judy speaks to her accidentally stumbling on to this whole tempering deal...


Turns out that many people have noticed that wax that has had to be turned off in the pot then reheated at a later time often behaves more nicely...

We have used the seeding method a lot and it works well; but we have also experimented with the temperature and holding thing... but along with the temperature raising and lowering and raising, etc. there is STIRRING. Apparently stirring is also a big deal with tempering - gotta keep it moving...

The discussion about the crystal formation in the second link REALLY helped explain a LOT to me. When the cauliflowering thing happens, it's obviously a different type of crystal growth. The way the guy explains the need for tempering to arrange the crystals in a tighter, more organized matrix got through the fog to me. :)

To understand why the melting points and strength properties vary, think of each crystal type as a different sized and shaped chair. If you cool the chocolate too fast at too low a temperature you get many different sized and shaped chairs jumbled together in a haphazard pile. Nudge such a pile at it'll fall over easy. In chocolate, such a tangle of different shaped crystals is also unstable and can fall apart (melt) at a lower temperature. Because the chairs (crystals) are different shapes and sizes they can't lock together, which also means they are mechanical weak, the chocolate breaks easily and may even be slightly flexible. On the other hand, if you start off with chairs that are all the same size and shape and take the time to stack them in a column where their legs lock together, they can be bumped and shoved around quite hard before they fall apart. In chocolate, if all the crystals are the same and are cooled slowly so that they have time to lock together, then they form a rigid structure that takes a harder "bump" to disturb (a higher temperature to melt) or to break.

The most desirable form is beta because it's the strongest, most stable, has the shiniest surface, releases the easiest from molds and has the best eating texture.

Tempering is nothing more than controlling the temperature so that beta is encouraged to form and all the others are discouraged. The easiest way to do this is to melt milk chocolate in the 85 to 87 degree range, at which temperature all other forms melt yet beta can still crystallize. Once the melt thickens as it's stirred you know that it contains a large number of beta seed crystals, which will grow throughout the chocolate if it is left to cool slowly. The problem is that this technique takes a long time to get the chocolate to melt (it's like boiling water with too small of a flame) and almost as long to form seed crystals. The process can be speeded up by heating the chocolate quicker (to a higher temperature) cooling it quickly to form a lot of seed crystals, some of which will be the undesirable types, then warming it again to 85-86 degrees to melt away everything but the beta seeds. The up-and-down heating technique has nothing to do with some sort of magic conditioning of the chocolate. It's just a way to speed things up.

The easiest technique of all for tempering chocolate is to purchase an electric temperer.

I really liked how the first three photos kinda illustrate the whole thing in a visual nutshell.

Now I HOPE that everyone reading this understands that the temperature points discussed in these links are for chocolate - they would be much higher for soy wax, but the process is still much the same and a lot of the chemistry is the same. So, at least, it gives us a method and general point to begin our Adventures into Tempering... *super banana*

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Kool video, Dawn. Love the guy's accent...:yay:

I was compairing to the water added to the choc

8Gran, it is not the temperature of the water, it is the substance itself!

"Chocolate will crystallize (incorrectly) if any moisture gets in it"

Now if you WANTED to include water in chocolate, heating it would be the smart way to go, but it would also have to be more than a little water... We don't want ANY water in our candle wax 'cause it makes the wick sputter!

While I *feel* sure that adding prewarmed FO would work better than cold FO, I don't know why I feel that way... Maybe I will try this if I ever get to WalMart and buy a griddle!:)

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... just didn't wanna take any chances, 8Gran - chocolate does funny things to people even if they just READ about it!!:laugh2::laugh2::laugh2:

Well, CareBear, first I will try to find out what the temperature points mean to chocolate, then I will try to match up similar points with soy wax. :) Like where the people put the melting point of chocolate, well, that's where the melting point of soy wax would go, etc. :) I don't think that soy will have such a narrow temperature range, TG...

Think of it like a math problem... just substitue the variables with data for soy... the hard point will be finding info on the crystallization temps for soy wax... probably buried in some research paper somewhere on the web...*faint*

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Sharon, you are correct: chocolate and soy wax are not the same or I would eat my candles and never make any money! But both share MANY oleochemical properties. Since chocolate has been much more well-researched than has soy wax, don't you think solutions to crystallization and consistency issues in chocolate would be a good place to start to find solutions for the same type of problems with soy wax? Makes great sense to me!

When is someone going to come up with how it's done for soy?

You mean like a cookbook recipe? Ain't gonna happen and why should it? People who work to perfect their candles do not owe others a step-by-step to easy success!! EVERYONE who has issues like this needs to stop waiting for someone ELSE to do the work and start doing a little experimentation of their own to share with others! Waiting for an independent oleochemist to show up here and lead the way is a little like waiting for Godot! Soy wax is relatively NEW and it is NOT perfect. The first formulas for nearly every new product I can think of are imperfect, but people WORK to make them better.

Jason from Golden Brands gave some basic tempering instructions in the link Top posted below (THANKS TOP! :)) - sounds like as good a starting point as any to me! ;) Realize that he is talking about GB products which may have a lower melting point than the wax we are using, so remember to adjust a little to accommodate...

Tempering has worked well for us and I can really tell a difference in the end product in terms of consistency, smooth tops, less frosting and other crystallization issues (like cauliflowering). Although I can see a difference in new candles, where I REALLY see the difference is in candles which have been poured and stored for a few months. My biggest problem is that I do not have it broken down into a "procedure", so sometimes an untempered candle will sneak through and give me gremlin fits. Until I get a procedure down which achieves consistent results, my methods are simply experimental. Anyone can do the same thing with the wax they use! I think there is enough information in this thread and in other locations on this site for people who REALLY want to solve (or at least, diminish) their problems with soy wax to do so... It just depends on how motivated a candlemaker is to work to find solutions.

Science...Art...Chocolate...Science...Art...Chocolate...More Chocolate...:drool:

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