Wax Formulas For Pillar Candles

By Bob Sherman

Wax formulas or recipes as they are sometimes called can be quite confusing to beginners. In this article I will explain various ingredients and offer wax formulas I have had success with for making pillar candles.

PLEASE NOTE!! - Candle making can be dangerous if proper safety procedures are not followed. Please read these Safety Rules before attempting any candle making projects.

What Is A Pillar Candle?

Most free standing candles fall into the category of pillar candles. These include not only cylindrical candles as illustrated, but many geometric shapes, as well as novelty shapes and figurines as well. They may be plain, scented, unscented, decorative, etc...

What Makes A Good Pillar Candle?

Generally a well made pillar candle contains a medium hard wax formula and has a wick suitable for that formula / candle diameter combination. This will provide a candle that has:

Paraffin Wax

The main ingredient. Paraffin wax is a complex molecule that is created at oil refineries by fractional distillation. The general assumption is that wax is wax, however the reality is that no two waxes are identical and they even vary slightly from one batch to the next from the same manufacturer.

Although on the surface that last statement does not seem too significant, the implications have an enormous bearing on your candle making:

The most important factor with wax is to find one that works well for you and stick with it. Every time you change waxes, you will need to test your formulas and wick sizes.

Scent

If you are making scented candles, scent oil will affect your wax formula and usually the wick size needed as well. Scent oil will make the wax slightly softer and lower the viscosity (thickness) of the melted wax. The main implication of this is that you may need a different wick size for scented and unscented candles made with the same wax formula.

Some important things to know about scent oils:

Colorants

Pillar candles should always be colored with candle dyes. Pigments or crayons are for external use only and should never be used to color the core wax as it will cause wick clogging leading to a poorly burning candle.

Wick

Always use square braid or flat braid wick in pillar candles. These will curl the tip into the hottest part of the flame, allowing it to burn cleaner and be self trimming. The use of a cored wick will cause it to burn much less cleanly and will require frequent trimming. See my Wick Selection Guide for information about choosing the correct wick.

Pillar Wax Formula #1
This Vybar based formula is my favorite pillar candle formula and I highly recommend it. It works very well with both scented and unscented candles, and is very economical compared to stearic based formulas. This will also provide a bright white candle if you leave out the dye. Vybar based formulas will hold the maximum amount of scent and will inhibit oil mottling (snowflakes).

Note: Vybar based formulas are more opaque and require slightly more dye to attain the same depth of color.

Pillar Wax Formula #2
This Stearic based formula is what I used before Vybar was widely available. It is rather old fashioned and dates back to when I started making candles in the 1970s. Stearic is more expensive to use, however it is slightly easier to obtain - especially outside the U.S. Stearic based formulas will not hold as much scent oil and will not retain their scent as well as Vybar based formulas. Stearic based formulas are less opaque, and do not inhibit oil mottling (snowflakes).

Stearic based formulas are inferior in nearly every way to Vybar based formulas. The one exception is if you are intentionally making mottled candles because Vybar will inhibit the mottling reaction.

Candle Making Supplies

The following candle making supplies are what I use to make pillar candles. Clicking on the item name will bring you to that item's page with a full description and ordering information.

140 Melt Point Paraffin Wax

Additives (Vybar, Stearic)

Dye Blocks

Dye Flakes

Scent Oils

Square Braid Wick

Flat Braid Wick

Melting / Pouring Pot

Thermometer


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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 Originally published in April 2007 and updated in July 2011. 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.

This article is provided free of charge for use. Candles may be made and sold using this design royalty free, however no portion of this article may be reproduced for publication elsewhere without express permission from Bobby's Craft Boutique Inc. with the following exceptions: