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How to make soy candles. A guide

Photography by Tracey Creed
Assisted by Amandine Paniagua
Words by Tracey Creed

Published August 31 2023

Atmospheric and transformative, candles are a part of my daily ritual. Not only is using essential oils a pleasurable sensory experience, it’s also a highly effective and natural way to take care of yourself. At home, I love a rotation of incense, palo santo, room spray and candles—D.S. & Durga, Curionoir, Diptyque and Arc are brands I buy, but when I get myself together and order the soy wax and essential oils, I enjoy making my own. Amandine and I have a system—I weigh the wax and oils, and Amandine prepares the wax and this part includes a lot of stirring. The wax I purchased from New Zealand Candle Supplies and the oils from Pure Nature. I regretted not splurging on Rose Damascena Absolute, but that was $117 for 10 ml. Another time.

Aesop’s Istros Aromatique Room Spray was what I was aspiring to—florals, smoky Tobacco and Sandalwood. I love the warm, resinous floral of Bergamot and Cedarwood spiked with Patchouli and Jasmine so I created variations on this theme adding Vetiver and Sandalwood, both which feature in the Curionoir 415 AD parfum. For me, candle making is a creative outlet that incorporates using oils, taking time to nourish the body and mind. It is something generous we can do for ourselves. And when the process involves others, you share that nourishment, share in conversation and it is so uplifting.

How to make soy candles, our process

Your first step is to measure out your wax. Select your vessels and add your soy wax 1.5 cm from the rim. Double this weight by 2.25.

Melt the wax over low heat using the double boiler method. You should never melt your wax or over direct heat or use a microwave. Maintaining 85°C (185°F) temperature is the optimal temperature for the fragrance and wax to bind—vital to achieving an adequate scent throw.

Once melted, add your essential and/or fragrance oils. We used 10 per cent by weight. So, if I weigh 200 grams of wax for the vessel, I would mix in 20 ml of oil.

Also, make sure you stir the oil in. Stir for two minutes. Inadequate blending can lead to the oils failing to bind to the wax.

Adhere your wicks in place at the bottom of the vessel. Pour the wax into vessels. Leave to set for 8 to 12 hours. When we prepared these, the wax was setting within a few hours. In warmer months, you will need to leave your vessels for at least 8 hours.

How to avoid creating sinkholes

Your pour temperature will depend on the wax you are using. For example:

Soy Wax 49-74°C (120-165°F)

Paraffin Wax 71-82°C (160-180°F)

Beeswax 68-71°C (155-160°F)

One approach to avoid sinkholes is to pour the wax at cooler temperatures—around 49-57°C (120-135°F) to help prevent sinkholes, since cooler wax tends to melt at a more even rate.

How to melt and reuse candle wax remnants

Several of my Arc candles had residual wax, you can reuse this material. To remove the wax, place the vessel in the freezer for a few hours, remove and allow to chill for 10 to 15 minutes, then use a spoon to crack and remove the wax. When weighing your wax, add your recycled wax to further infuse scent. We are also re-using vessels from previous candles purchased, an item that is typically tossed aside in the recycling bin. You could also ask friends to set aside their empty vessels.

Are soy wax candles better for you?

Yes. It is non-toxic and cleaner-burning—releasing less soot. Soy is uncomplicated and simple enough to work with and an excellent fragrance carrier void of chemical amplifiers. Soy wax is also naturally resistant to blooming or frosting. And with a lower melting point compared with, say, paraffin wax, during burn time, you’ll create a larger melt pool soy, and your essential oils benefit from this larger surface area creating a more intense fragrance throw. Soy wax can be melted and reused infinitely with a burn time of 250 ml at 50 hours.

How do you make the best-smelling soy candles?

After consulting r/candlemaking, the general consensus is 8-10 per cent of essential oils by weight. Initially, I went with 10 per cent. It was not enough. Now I use 15 per cent. If you are feeling flush, I would say 20 per cent. Each essential oil has specific therapeutic properties, so understanding which oils to use when is key. Adapt to your needs and state.

If you’re feeling tired and uninspired—try oils with bright, fresh notes from the citrus and herbaceous family, such as Bergamot and Blood Orange.

If you’re feeling stressed or anxious—try oils like Lavender, Chamomile, Peppermint, and Geranium to help calm the nervous system and take you out of ‘fight or flight’.

If you want to introduce a grounding energy to your space—try earthy woody oils such as Vetiver, Galbanum, Ylang Ylang and Patchouli, often associated with the root chakra.

If you have a spiritual practice or mediation—let the oils of Frankincense, Sandalwood and Myrrh transport you.

If you need to clear your space of mosquitoes and flies—blend Eucalyptus, Lavender, Geranium, Clove, Cedarwood, Lemongrass and Citronella to effectively deter.

If you want to clear any nagging energy from the day—try oils of Eucalyptus, Lavender and Atlas Cedar. This combination of essential oils also makes for a stimulating steam shower.

And if you want to prepare the body for rest—Lavender, Chamomile, Neroli, Sandalwood. My philosophy is that the best skincare begins with plant-based foods, exercise and sleep!

I have the most respect for plants. Essential oils are extracted from powerful plants and should be used sparingly with care (tons and tons of raw plant materials go into a small bottle of essential oils). Whether you are inhaling or absorbing essential oils, you’re taking in highly concentrated active forms of flowers, leaves, barks and roots that naturally support your body. They have powerful effects, and the overuse of them isn’t healthy for us or our pets.

Always buy your essential oils in small quantities from reputable suppliers and store them away from direct light and heat. Citrus oils can go off, so keep them in the fridge and change them out every six months.

I encourage you to call up a friend and arrange a candle making session for you to pause and create space for the process and practice! And if you do, I would love to see yours. Tag us at @thisislagom on Instagram.

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