• Oliver Yates

5 things to look for in a quality candle

I get a lot of adverts for candles popping up wherever I go on the internet and they all say the same thing, luxury quality candles, handmade, eco friendly, natural, burn time of 45 hours, etc and they all look very similar. Now I know just by looking at them that a lot of their claims are not true as it is an area I have researched a lot. So I thought I would give you 5 things to look out for so you know you really are getting a quality candle. So lets get started

1. Wick and Flame size

When making a candle it is really important to get the correct wick and flame size. The wick size you use will vary depending on the type of wax, the size of the vessel you are using and if you are using a scent. We use pure essential oils and we have to use different wicks depending on how flammable the scent is and how much of the scent we add.

It is a tricky process to get right and requires lots and lots of testing which takes time but if you get it right you will have a candle that utilises all of its wax efficiently, burns for longer, has a better scent throw, gives a better light and atmosphere and produces an efficient flame that doesn't soot (provided the wax is pure).

So look out for the flame if it is very small all blue the wick is probably too small, if the flame is very big and your wax is melting very quickly then the wick is probably too big this can also cause the melted wax to extinguish the flame as the wax melts faster than the flame can burn the wax away.

2. Tunnelling/ bowl forming

Tunnelling is when your candle burns the centre of the wax and creates a hole down the middle of the candle or leaves wax on the edges of the container. This is to do with the wick size but it is an important thing to look for in a candle.

A quality candle should not leave any wax on the edges of the container, provided you have given the candle enough time to develop a full melt pool. Likewise you can go the other way and have a melt pool that is too big (more than 1cm thick) which means the candle will burn very quickly and not be very efficient. Both are signs of poor quality and that the producer has not researched their product properly. There are a lot of candle material suppliers who are not completely honest with what they say and if you don't push them for an answer and dig a little deeper it is easy to then produce something that is not what you set out to do and goes against any good intensions you may have had. It is one of the many reasons we use local beeswax. We know exactly what is in it (100% pure beeswax) and we know where is has come from.

So look out for wax left on the side of the container/ tunnelling or a very deep melt pool.

3. Headaches

Whilst researching which waxes to use and their characteristics I was quite shocked to again find that many material manufacturers and wholesalers were not being completely honest about their products, even some of the natural eco soy wax products were not as describe once you ask a few more questions.

90% of soy for example is GMO so I'm not quite sure you can say it is fully natural and nearly all soy is processed with paraffin at some stage in the manufacturing journey. If your candle continues to soot whilst burning after about 15 minutes or you are getting headaches then it is a good sign that your candle contains paraffin which is toxic.

Soy and beeswax aren't the perfect materials for candle wax and so all unless stated will have an additive to help them burn, melt and solidify better, usually paraffin or coconut wax is used. We obviously don't grow coconuts in this country and we want to keep our carbon footprint and distance our materials travel to an absolute minimum so we do not add anything to our candles which is why sometimes a crack can form once the candle has cooled. We believe the environmental impact is more important than a crack that will disappear once the candle is lit again so we keep them pure.

So look out for lots of black smoke coming off your candle once the candle has settled into its burn (Approx 15mins) and if you are getting headaches when using a candle.

4. Quality of wax

There are many ways to tell the quality of the wax, obviously you can burn the candle and see how the wax performs, the colour of the wax although some producers add dye so can be hard to tell, and the texture and hardness of the wax. With some exceptions ie. hard paraffin waxes, generally candles with paraffin are soft and have an oily, translucent feel, whilst soy wax is hard and opaque. So the more soy in a blended candle the harder the wax will feel.

So look out for a harder wax with soy blended candles and a rich golden colour that is not too white/ light with beeswax.

5 Scent throw

Getting the scent right for a candle is another element that requires a lot of testing. Changing the amount of scent by even 1% can have a large affect on how the candle smells and how the scent is thrown when lit. The quality and make up of the wax and the quality and quantity of scent/ perfume have a big impact on the end result.

So beware of cheap scented candles. A candle that contains too much perfume may start to sweat or show crystal formation in the candle. Some manufacturers also only scent the top of the candle so they smell great when you buy them and at first but the scent disappears pretty quickly once burnt.

So look out for a scent that smells good when cold and continues to smell good throughout the whole life of the candle.

In summary look out for.

  • The size of the flame and how quickly the wax is melting

  • Tunnelling/ wax left on the side or a big melt pool

  • Lots of black soot or headaches

  • Hardness and colour of the wax

  • Smell

I would also suggest that you look at the container. If you see a lot of different candles using the same or very similar containers (just the sticker on the front changes) chances are they are all using the same cheap supplier and it is not a quality candle nor have they spent any time researching and testing their candle. You can go online and find suppliers who will sell a container, wax and suggest the wick you should use. These are often not the correct wick sizes and do not take into account when a scent is added, sometimes the wicks have metal in them, the wax is often poor quality is not fair trade, sustainably produced, uses cheap labour or they are not upfront or completely honest with the wax blend and how the wax is manufactured. The containers are cheap and often not fit for purpose meaning they can crack or in some instances blow out. They cost about £2 or £3 to make and will be marketed anything from £10 up to £50, so please be careful. A lot of them do not have pictures of their candle lit/ working. I am happy to give you a yes that looks good or steer clear if you are worried or have any doubts.

If you have any questions, thoughts or would like to know more leave a message in the comments. Thank you for reading I hope you find this guide useful and have a good day.

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