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Newbie..Testing questions

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I am new to this and have just made my first container (tin travel candles 4oz & 16oz. I purchased 2 different kits to try out. One was golden brands but I don't know which number and the other is Ecosoy. I don't know which wicks I have been given, but I am testing each in each wax, My comparison is wax 1 with wick 1 wax 1 with wick 2. and wax 2 with wick 1, wax 2 with wick 2. The fragrance is the same in each.

I will be testing again when I order the exact products, (ie- I'll know exactly what I am buying. These kits were fine for a first timer. My question is....

What exactly am I testing for when I do a test burn. I have been reading these boards for hours, but I haven't found the answer I am needing, so can someone point me in the right direction.

I was only planning to do tin container candles, 4, 8, & 16oz.

I hope I supplied the correct information. Thanks

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In general, what I look for during test burns is:

1. Is this the right size wick for this wax, container combo?

2. How well does this scent throw?

3. Safety? Does it get too hot? Is the flame too high?

4. Smoking, soot or mushrooming?

5. How quickly does it burn?

I have to retest everytime something changes such as size, new FO etc.

Everyone has different things that they want from their candles. I would find out what wicks you are using and the size so that you have a jumping off point.

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First, you need to know the exact wax you are using and the exact wick. If you purchased a kit, contact the supplier and ask them what kind of wax and what wicks and sizes were included - they DO know! :wink2: Otherwise, you don't really know what you are testing nor what to reorder if you like something or avoid if you don't!! For now, keeping them as wick 1 and wick 2 will suffice...

Here's what I do...

Test ONE FO/dye/wax/container combination at a time. Some FOs, containers and waxes will require different wicks, so test one thing at a time. Just because a wick works well in one size/shape container with one kind of FO does NOT mean that this same wick will work as well for a different FO or container or wax. The same FO (ie. vanilla) from a different supplier is considered to be a different FO as not all suppliers have the same source for their FOs. The candles you test should be the exact same size, container, wax, FO, dye, etc. as the ones you plan to sell. Testing is an ongoing process, so get used to this regime.

Weigh an empty container so that you know how much of the ending weight of the container is wax and how much is the container weight. I keep an empty by the scale to weigh, then tare. Then I put the filled container I am testing on to see how much wax is in it. Record that as your starting weight. Before beginning the test, trim your wick to 1/4". Choose a location in your home where there are NO drafts. Wait at least 48 hours after pouring to begin testing to allow the FO to "cure" into the wax and to allow the wax crystals to fully harden.

Testing periods should be roughly 1 hour per inch of diameter. Example: a 2" diameter container should burn for 2 hours at a time; a 3" diameter container should burn for 3 hours at a time.

Right before the first test period ends, measure the height of the flame. Note any wick problems, such as mushrooms, flickering, sputtering, dancing, etc. Extinguish the wick. Feel the outside of the container - is it cool, warm, hot, etc. Weigh the empty container, tare, then weigh the container you are testing and record its weight. From this, you can figure how much wax the wick is burning per hour. Measure the width of the melt pool and the depth of it. Note how much fragrance the candle is putting off (that is subjective, but important - I rate 1-5) - its "hot throw."

Let the candle fully cool before relighting. Note the condition of the top of the candle (is it smooth, wavy, lumpy, etc.) and any frosting or color change you see.

Trim the wick to 1/4" and begin again. Repeat until the candle has burned all the way to the end, paying particular attention to how the candle is burning during the last half of the candle. Note ANY movement of the wick assembly, especially when the candle has become all liquid and whether the wicktab self extinguishes at the top as it is supposed to, or whether the wick keeps on burning anyway. If it moves at all or doesn't self extinguish, you have to use a more secure method of sticking the wicktab onto the bottom of the container. The wick cannot move at all!

If the wick is not achieving a full melt pool (leaving hang-up on the sides) by the last half of the container, you will probably need to wick up. If the container becomes too hot to touch before the last half of the container, you will probably need to wick down. If the candle burns well all the way to the bottom, but the hot throw is less than you had wanted, look at the wick. If it is mushrooming a lot, then wick up one. If it isn't, and the container is getting pretty hot, then wick down one.

Once you have determined that you like how a certain wick is performing, test a new candle by powerburning it. Powerburning means lighting it and letting it burn all the way to the end without trimming the wick, extinguishing, etc. This is an abuse test to ensure that even if a customer ignores the instructions for burning a candle safely that it will not become too hot and catch the eitire surface on fire, crack the glass of its container, become so hot that it will damage the area surrounding it (assuming that a customer also did not put the candle on a heat-proof, fire-proof surface).

If the candle passes the hot throw, rate of consumption, heating of container and powerburn tests with the wick you selected, have a glass of bubbly. If the candle flunks the powerburn test, wick down one size. Better to have a candle leave a little hangup than sue you over a fire.

Recordkeeping doesn't just start with the testing...

When you pour candles, be sure to keep a record of everything that goes into the candle and the amounts as well as the temperature you heat the wax to, for how long, the pouring temp, etc. I note the date and supplier from whom I purchased every ingredient used as well as the Lot number of the case of wax (if you are buying by the case; if not, note the date you purchased the wax). Note HOW you melted the wax (double boiler, Presto, etc.). Note the ambient room temperature and cool the candles in a draft free location with good air circulation all around the container so that it can cool as evenly as possible. I make a "map" of where each container is places so that if some of them have caved in tops or some other flaw, I can look at WHERE they were placed exactly to see if that had a bearing on how one candle turned out perfectly and another looks like a homemade mud fence. Note any frosting after the candle has cooled and at 24 hour periods for a couple of weeks at least. Some colors frost worse than others; some FOs frost worse than others. Some candles are frost-free for the first month, then change later on during storage. Note the storage conditions and temperatures.

Now that's the basics of what I do... other people may do things differently. Have fun!! :DIt sounds overwhelming, but once you get organized and know what to record and when, you will fall into a rhythm that is much easier than your first experiences.

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