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Common Candle Making Issues and How to Handle Them?

Common Candle Making Issues and How to Handle Them

Candle making at home is an exciting and enjoyable craft, but like any creative endeavor, you might encounter challenges. Whether you find wet spots, experience tunneling or smoking during burning, or discover sinkholes in candles after your candles have set, it’s essential to understand that these unexpected issues are part of the learning process and the adventure of candle making.

With experience, you’ll become adept at identifying common problems that even seasoned candle makers have faced. Many successful brands in the industry have wrestled with similar candle-making challenges, so you’re not alone; it’s a normal part of the journey. Remember, mastering any craft takes time, and learning from your mistakes is a crucial part of the process.

While candle making often involves trial and error, learning a few tips and tricks can significantly reduce the time spent trying to troubleshoot problems and help you refine your technique. This troubleshooting guide is designed to help you recognize common obstacles and provide insights into preventing issues, making your candle-making experience more enjoyable and successful.

Common Candle Making Problems and Solutions

Let’s find out the common candle-making mistakes. In the following section, we will explain them in detail and along with solutions.

  • Wet Spots

Wet spots manifest as noticeable patches on your candle’s glass container, where it appears that the wax has contracted or receded during the cooling process. This phenomenon can occur either while the candle is setting, during the curing phase, or even months after the candles have been stored. Essentially, a wet spot indicates that the wax hasn’t adhered properly to the glass.

To minimize or prevent the occurrence of wet spots, consider the following measures:

  1. Pre-warm your glass containers before pouring the wax.
  2. Reduce the pouring temperature to minimize wax shrinkage as it solidifies.
  3. Ensure thorough cleaning and drying of the glass before use.

It’s important to note that, similar to sinkholes, wet spots are sometimes unavoidable, and even premium candle brands may encounter them. Importantly, wet spots do not impact the candle’s burn or overall quality and can often be concealed with labels.

If wet spots persist despite attempting the above recommendations, you have the option to gently apply heat to the exterior of the glass using a heat gun. This can help to temporarily eliminate the wet spots, but please be aware that they may reappear over time.

  • Frosting

Frosting is an inherent occurrence in candle making, particularly when working with soy waxes. It results from the wax’s natural tendency to return to its original state, manifesting as white crystalline patches on the candle’s surface.

While frosting can arise unexpectedly and sometimes cannot be entirely prevented, there are strategies to minimize its likelihood:

  1. Reduce the oil percentage by 1-2%.
  2. Opt for a harder wax, like paraffin or a wax blend. Pure soy wax is more prone to frosting, and incorporating paraffin can help mitigate this effect.
  3. Allow the wax to cool gradually. It might be necessary to work in a warmer environment to ensure the wax cools slowly, as rapid cooling can accentuate frosting.
  4. Avoid using candle dye, especially in darker hues, as coloring can exacerbate frosting. If using colorants, add them to the wax while it’s at its hottest, immediately after melting, and ensure thorough mixing.

It’s essential to note that frosting, while it can be a concern for some, does not affect the candle’s burn or overall quality; it is primarily an aesthetic issue. Some candle makers appreciate the frosted effect, while others may choose to conceal it or experiment with different wax types to achieve their desired appearance.

  • The Candle Has No Smell

So, you’ve ignited your candle, but you’re encountering difficulty detecting the fragrance. Several factors may be contributing to this issue:

  1. Insufficient Curing Time: Different waxes need specific curing periods before lighting to enhance scent throw.
  2. Temperature Timing: Adding fragrance oil at the right temperature is vital for a robust scent.
  3. Proper Fragrance Amount: Stick to the recommended oil-to-wax ratio; excessive oil can impede scent diffusion.

If, despite addressing the above considerations, the scent remains elusive, it might be the wick you’ve chosen. Experimenting with various wick types and sizes may be necessary to discover the optimal match for your candle creation.

  • Mushrooming Wick

A mushroom-shaped accumulation of carbon on the top of your candle’s wick occurs when the wax burns too quickly, and the wick struggles to keep up, resulting in the formation of carbon deposits.

The primary cause of wick mushrooming is often linked to the wick’s size. If you use a wick that is too large for the size of your candle vessel, you are more likely to encounter wick mushrooming. If you notice a significant mushroom-forming, it may be necessary to switch to a smaller wick or consider a different wick type, especially if the current wick is not suitable for the wax type or the added fragrance load.

In cases where only a slight mushroom appears, it could be due to a minor draft. A minor mushroom on the wick is generally not a significant concern, as some candles may exhibit this characteristic while others do not, even when they are all the same type.

Pro tip: Always trim off the mushroom from the wick before relighting the candle. Neglecting to do so could lead to the wick spitting wax and emitting excess carbon when lit, resulting in a higher-than-desired flame, which may pose a fire hazard.

  • Tunneling

Tunneling in candles occurs when the candle wick consumes an excessive amount of fuel, surpassing its capacity to burn efficiently. Instead of the candle wax evenly melting towards the vessel’s edge, it burns down the center, creating a tunnel, which leaves a substantial portion of solid wax around the edges unburned. This issue arises when the wick is too small for the chosen vessel or when the candle has been lit for only a brief period.

Achieving the correct wick size is crucial for ensuring that the candle burns evenly. To rectify tunneling, you will need to create a new candle using a larger wick and gradually increase the wick size until you achieve a candle that burns close to the vessel’s edge.

Pro tip: It is advisable to burn your candle for approximately 3-4 hours during the initial burn, allowing the candle wax to reach as close to the edges as possible. Burning the candle for only 30-60 minutes may lead to the formation of a tunnel as it burns further down.

  • Candle Flames Emit Smoke When Lit

Smoke emerging from the burning wick can indicate several potential issues. It may suggest that the wick is too large, an excessive amount of fragrance oil has been added, or the wick hasn’t been adequately trimmed to about 5mm before lighting. Fortunately, resolving this problem is often straightforward, primarily by ensuring the wick is trimmed correctly.

However, if smoke persists even after trimming the wick, it’s advisable to review the percentage of fragrance oil used. Consider remaking the candle with a lower fragrance oil concentration to determine if this resolves the issue.

Furthermore, the placement of the candle while it’s burning plays a significant role in its performance. If the candle is positioned in a drafty area, it can lead to excess smoke from the wick. Additionally, this excess smoke may result in soot buildup on the vessel’s edges as the candle burns further down.

  • Discoloration

Adding fragrance oil to your candle gives it a nice smell, but it can also change its color. Fragrance oils contain various natural and synthetic ingredients. If these ingredients have color, they can affect your candle’s appearance. Natural ingredients like cinnamon and citrus can discolor wax.

One common synthetic ingredient known for causing candle discoloration is vanillin, found in vanilla. It’s often used in fragrance oils to enhance their scent. Unfortunately, vanillin can turn your candle beige or brown due to oxidation when exposed to light and oxygen. To prevent this, you can use vanillin-free fragrance oils try coloring your wax, or use opaque, colored, or frosted containers for your candles.

  • Oily Wax

If your candle looks oily on top or has liquid at the bottom, it means the fragrance oil is seeping out of the wax. This can occur for two reasons:

  1. Inadequate Binding: Ensure you heat the wax to the recommended temperature before adding the fragrance oil. If not heated enough, the oil may not bind properly and can be seen floating in the wax. In this case, gently heat the wax and stir until the oil is no longer visible.
  2. Excessive Fragrance Oil: Every wax has a maximum recommended fragrance oil amount. Adding too much can cause oil to leak from your finished candle. Always stay within the recommended limits to prevent this issue.
  • Wicks Extinguish After Lighting

If your candle wick goes out 10 minutes after lighting it, it’s often because the wick was cut too short. You can relight it and carefully tilt the melted wax to help the wick. This happens when the wax pools and suffocates the wick.

If the issue persists, it might be because the wick is too small. In that case, you should make a new candle with a larger wick.

Another reason for the wick going out could be clogging from using materials like mica powder, glitter, botanical, or excessive candle dye. We strongly recommend avoiding these materials in candles, as they can hinder proper burning and pose a fire risk. You can also try using less candle dye.

  • Air Bubble in The Candle Surface

Are there tiny bubbles on your candle’s surface when you pour it? These bubbles can be a real headache, but there are steps to fix them. First, make sure your containers are completely dry before pouring wax. Water residue can cause bubbles that ruin your candle. If water is the issue, unfortunately, your candle is ruined. It can be unsafe to burn due to wax spitting.

If there’s no water in the container, the bubbles might be from pouring the wax too cool or too fast. Next time, try pouring a bit hotter and slower to avoid this problem.

Pro Tip: Before pouring, give your container a few taps on your work surface to disperse any bubbles that formed while the wax was cooling.

Wrapping Up!

As we mentioned at the beginning of this guide, candle-making relies heavily on trial and error. It’s strongly recommended to experiment thoroughly with your candle-making supplies and equipment – in simple terms, keep testing.

There’s no such thing as testing too much! After spending some time testing, you’ll refine your process, and your candles will become masterpieces.

We hope this guide has offered insights into common candle-making problems and provided helpful solutions and tips to enhance your candle-making journey.