Over Dipping Instructions For
By Bob Sherman
Over dipping is a technique that candle makers can use to both create
interesting candles or repair otherwise unsalvageable candles. As always
the basic safety rules should be followed.
Over dipping is done with the intention of adding one or more layers of
wax to the candle. To build up most waxes it is necessary to maintain
the wax between 150 and 160 degrees F. (you may find slightly higher or
lower works for you as well). If the wax temperature is too low, the candle
will come out lumpy. If the wax is too hot, it may remove wax rather than
apply it, or put on layers that are way too thin. The Basic step by step
- The first dip should be held long enough to soften the core candle
so the dipped layers adhere better. This is normally held for 30 seconds
and is done only on the first dip.
- The candle is then immediately dipped in cold water and removed. Any
drops of water should be wiped off before dipping into the wax again.
- Dip in and out of the wax.
- Dip in and out of the water bath.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the desired thickness has been attained.
- Always dip in one smooth motion, stopping part way in or out will
cause surface lumps.
- If you are planning to dip your candles, it is best to leave enough
wicking on top to easily hold while dipping.
- Do not fill your dipping
vats to the top, as the candle will displace wax when dipped.
- Do not allow the candle to cool between dips - wax adheres best to
- When using pigments keep the wax well mixed.
Dye vs Pigment
Dyes are translucent. They rely on the thickness of the wax to
provide depth of color. Because of the they are not usually used for
over dip coloring. Exceptions will be noted below.
are opaque particles suspended in wax. They will provide a very deep
color in the thinnest possible layer because they do not rely on light
reflected from below. Most over dipping is best done with pigments.
The color particles in pigments are heavier than wax and will settle
to the bottom of your vat. It is important to stir these up regularly.
The most common reason for over dipping is to add a layer of
color. Pigment dye is usually used for this since it allows much richer
colors in a thinner layer of wax. This technique is used by many large
candle manufacturers to color tapers and pillars. This is an effective
way to cover surface imperfections and seams. The candle illustrated here
had an large unsightly seam which was hidden by the over dipping.
By using a translucent core candle and over dipping in colored
wax you can create a candle that glows from within. It is usually better
to use dye for the dip, since it is not as opaque as pigment and more
light will pass through. Remember that dyes require a thicker layer than
pigments for a rich color.
An interesting effect can be obtained by dipping multiple color layers,
then carving through them while the candle is soft. Pigments work best
in these. The core candle is dipped in alternating colors to build up
the layers. The number of dips per color determines how thick each layer
will be. While still warm, sections can be cut away revealing the color
layers. Another interesting effect can be had by torching through the
layers once the candle is fully hardened. See Cut
'n Curl Candle Basics for more information on this technique.
Generally a dip in clear (actually translucent) wax is used for
smoothing out the surface after adhering pressed flowers, photos, or other
embellishments. Most additives will make the wax more opaque, so I suggest
using paraffin with Micro 180 as a hardener. Personally I find this technique
makes the embeds look cloudy and is very difficult to get a smooth finish
so I don't use it on my candles.
Multi Color Dipping
Also called layered dipping, this can provide a candle that transitions
color from bottom to top. For each color the candle is dipped progressively
less. For example: Dip the whole candle in the first color. The second
color dip is only part way, the third less than that, etc... This is a
rather obscure technique and is far less popular than it was several decades
ago. I have seen this done with both dye and pigments. When done with
dye you must remember that the previous dip will show through altering
the color however with some planning this may actually enhance the appearance.
No matter how carefully you trim the seams of candles made in two piece
molds it leaves a visible mark. Over dipping in a pigmented wax will help
make the seam invisible. You must use caution - too thick a coating will
hide detail. This takes some experimentation to get just right, but generally
requires dipping at a slightly higher temperature to create thinner layers.
Over dipping is a versatile technique and if you make a lot of candles,
the required equipment and experimentation are well worth it.
Disclaimer: The information presented
here is accurate to the best of my knowledge and common candle making
practices as of the time of this writing - January 2006. The author and
the publisher accept no liability for the use or misuse of any of the
information presented in this article. This article is presented for informational
purposes and is used at your own risk.
Author: Bob Sherman
Publisher: Bobby's Craft Boutique Inc.
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