Your Ultimate Guide to Candles | Whole Home Scenting

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Your Ultimate Guide to Candles

Melted candles

Have you ever wanted to learn more about candles?

Candles are very popular and beautiful home accessories — $3.2 billion dollars are spent each year on them in America alone. However, many people do not know the whole story behind these enticing household decorating essentials. Candles have a long and rich history, and they require a certain level of decorating know-how if you want to use them in a way that will give you the most value for your money and for your home’s overall look, scent and feel. This guide touches on some of the most common questions about candles so you can become a veritable candle expert in a short amount of time. You can even learn how to make your own one-of-a-kind soy candle!

What Is the Story Behind Candles?

The first candles were typically made from animal fat, all the way back in ancient Egypt. These early candles were made by dipping natural reeds into melted animal fat from a variety of sources. They tended to smell quite unpleasant, much like the greasy and fatty fast food of today. Candles were also manufactured in ancient Rome, but they used papyrus in place of the reeds. Ancient Chinese candle makers used whale fat, insects, and seeds to make their lighting tools.

Ancient candles were typically used for practical purposes, such as lighting up homes and traveling outside at night so people could see. They were also crucial to many serious religious ceremonies.

Today, candles are most commonly seen in home decorating settings, but they are still used for some practical or emergency purposes, such as power outages. They are also still important for many religious holidays, including Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Diwali. Most people are also familiar with birthday candles, which are placed on birthday cakes in different styles and arrangements that are prevalent in American culture.

How Are Candles Made?

The majority of candles on the market today are mass-produced by large manufacturers. This typically means that the chosen wax — usually paraffin — is melted and poured into a mold. From there, scents and colors are added while the wax is still in its melted form to give the candles their desired fragrances and appearances. Once the wax cools, it takes the shape of the mold it was placed into and is ready to be put on the market. Some candles are still made by hand using a variety of methods. You can learn how to make your own candle out of soy wax and fragrance below.

How Long Do Candles Last?

Candle close up

How long does a candle last in most cases? The answer varies widely depending on the size of the candle and its wick. A 10-inch taper may burn up to 10 hours, while a votive may burn for up to 15 hours. A large jar candle may burn for as long as 150 hours of use.

You can actually calculate your candle’s burn time using a few different calculations and estimates. If you have a small candle and a small wick, expect it to burn for seven to nine hours for each ounce of wax. Large candles with larger wicks should burn for between five and seven hours per ounce of wax.

If you want a more accurate estimate, weigh your new candle before burning it. Then, burn it for one hour per each inch of diameter. Weigh the candle again after burning it. Subtract the new weight from your original figure to see how many ounces of wax were burned through during your experiment. You can then divide the number by the diameter to identify how many ounces of wax are burned in an hour. Finally, you can divide the original weight by the wax burned per hour to find the total burn time of your candle. Some people prefer to use an online calculator to figure out their candles’ burn times.

Why Are Candles so Expensive?

You may be frustrated by the high price tag on many candles, but there are several legitimate reasons that they are so pricey. The main reasons are that the ingredients in most candles are highly expensive and the waxes are of the highest quality, particularly when candles are made with beeswax. Of course, some candles are overpriced just to be marketed as luxury products, so it makes sense to always be a smart shopper and make sure you are getting your money’s worth from your candle purchase.

What Should You Look for in a Candle?

As mentioned above, all candles are not made equal. The three most important things to look for in a candle are its wax, its wick, and its fragrance. The higher the quality of the ingredients, the more well-crafted and valuable the candle. You will also want to ensure that you have appropriate accessories picked out for your candle, such as a high-quality candle lighter and an attractive holder that fits your particular candle of choice and will go well with your home decor.

What Are the Different Types of Candle Wax?

Most candles are made of paraffin, which is created from petroleum oil and is preferred due to its low price and odor-free composition. Paraffin wax produces byproducts when burned that are actually harmful to your health, your home and the environment. Soy wax is typically a healthier choice and burns more cleanly, which means that it produces cleaner, stronger scents and lasts longer. Beeswax candles are pricier and are typically made of pure beeswax.

Avoid soy-blend candles, as they usually contain some paraffin. Many will not state this on their labels, so it is best to stay away from anything blended as much as possible to get the best deal, protect your health and help the environment.

What Should You Want in a Wick?

Candle wick

If you want the most pleasurable candle experience, aim to buy one with a cotton wick and a cotton or paper core. Some cotton wicks have tin or zinc cores. While safe, these cores can cause mushroom wicks, lead to flaring or create high-temperature burning, all of which can end in unpleasant or dangerous situations.

How else can you tell that a candle is reliable? A high-quality wick will burn evenly and cleanly and create an even pool of wax liquid across the candle’s surface within two to four hours while burning.

Can You Use Essential Oils in Candles?

Many natural fragrance oils can be used to give candles their lovely scents. Most scented candles on the market today are created with a blend of synthetic and natural fragrances. Some of the best candle fragrance oils you can look for or use in your own candle making include amber, jasmine, rose, geranium, lavender and cardamom, to name just a few. Ensure you choose a fragrance that will be likely to fill your entire room. Your needs will vary depending on the size of the room you are placing the candle in and your preferences.

What Types of Candles Are There?

There are many varieties of candles to choose from on the market today. Some of the most common for household use include the following:

  • Votives
  • Tapers
  • Pillars
  • Candle pots and containers
  • Tea lights
  • Floating candles

What if you are worried about flammability?

In that case, you can choose from a variety of flame-free candles that look and smell like the real thing. There are also emergency candles, birthday candles and other special-use options to choose from. Jar candles are another popular choice offered by many name brands that offer great value through lengthy burn times.

What Is The Best Type of Candle?

It is hard to say that one type of candle is better than another, as each one has its uses and charms. The candles you choose to decorate your wedding will be very different from those needed to help your living room smell and look amazing or to give your child’s birthday cake some fun flare. As long as you choose high-quality ingredients and structure based on the information above, you can rest assured that you are making an excellent choice.

Can You Make Your Own Candle?

If you would rather not spend a large sum of money on your candles, you can make your own. You will need the following ingredients to make a soy candle, which is fairly easy to find and inexpensive to purchase:

  • A thermometer
  • One pack of soy wax designed for candle making
  • A spatula
    A pair of pencils or chopsticks
  • A bottle of oil for fragrance (this is optional, but highly recommended)
  • A container that is heat-proof
  • A package of candle wicks (large size)
  • A double boiler

Once you have all of these ingredients, you will be ready to get started. Here are the simple steps to follow to make your own soy candle:

  1. Measure your soy wax. You will need to figure out how much hard wax would fill your container and then double the amount to find out what you need.
  2. Pour your wax into the double boiler and melt it, stirring at frequent intervals. You will need approximately 10 to 15 minutes for it to melt properly.
  3. Add your chosen fragrance oils to the melted wax and stir for just a few seconds. Your package of wax should tell you how much to add. Remember that this step is optional, but is recommended for the most high-quality, luxurious experience.
  4. Attach your wick to the bottom of the container. You can do so by dipping the wick into the melted mixture and then sticking it to the container’s bottom as quickly as possible. Wait five minutes so the wax can harden. You can also use super glue to attach the wick if preferred.
  5. Pour your wax into the container. Let it cool for several minutes. Pour the wax when the temperature reads 140 degrees on the thermometer. Slowly pour it in, holding the wick gently in place and leaving a small amount of wax in the boiler for later use.
  6. Secure the candle wick by laying the chopsticks or pencils across the container at the top. Sandwiching the wick between them keeps it centered. You will now need to let the wax set for four hours.
  7. Cut your candle’s wick to less than 1/2 inch in length. You can trim it later if the candle flickers or the flame is too high when lit.

If your candle looks holey or cracked after step six, you can reheat it and add the extra wax that you saved in step five (or you can use the excess wax to make a wax melt). Let it harden and continue with the final steps. Now you know how to quickly and easily make your own candles whenever you want or need to! This way, you can use the scents, materials and shapes you want without breaking the bank or worrying about what is in your mass-produced candles.

What Is a Good Alternative to Traditional Candles?

Scent Smarter Special

Candles are a staple in most homes today, but they are not for everyone. Some people do not like wax and are uncomfortable with the burning smell that many candles produce or are otherwise leery of having something burning in their home. Some even have small children who should not be around burning flames or a landlord who has banned candles in their rented space. However, such people still may want to enjoy the beautiful fragrance of candles that can add a certain feel and ambiance to a home to influence emotions in a positive way.

If you feel that an alternative option would be better suited to your home, family or lifestyle, you may want to try a Whole Home Scenting Diffuser from Whole Home Scenting. We use only the finest premium fragrances and are proud to offer the best whole house air freshener that you can trust — creating a great alternative to candles, which can be a pain to keep clean and can potentially cause fire hazards and other headaches for you. Browse our full line of high-quality home fragrance products today and get ready to experience a new whole home fragrance solution.

Photo credit: Pixabay (candle tea lights), ready made (melted candles), Castorly Stock (candle close up), George Becker (candle wick)
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