Wax Formulas For Taper 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 taper 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 Taper Candle?

Although many candle types may be tapered, when we refer to taper candles generally we are referring to long slender candles one inch or less in diameter. These are sometimes called dinner tapers because their most common use in modern times is at the dining table.

What Makes A Good Taper Candle?

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

Scented Or Unscented?

The vast majority of taper candles are made unscented. This is because most tapers are used at the dinner table and scented candles can put folks off so the highest demand is for unscented tapers. This does not mean they cannot be scented and there is some demand for scented tapers, mainly in specialty markets. Should you decide to scent your tapers, bear in mind that due to the tiny melt pool the scent throw will be minimal.

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

Note: traditionally taper candles are made unscented. They have a very small melt pool and do not provide a good scent throw.

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

Taper 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. Pigments are well suited to overdipping your candles for color if desired.

Wick

Most taper makers prefer flat braid wick however square braid will also work. 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 is not recommended and 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.

Taper Wax Formula

This is the only taper formula I have had consistent success with over the years. This is a Stearic based formula and dates back to when I started making candles in the 1970s. You made need to adjust the stearic amount depending on your wax.

Most Stearic based formulas are inferior in nearly every way to Vybar based formulas however I find that they work better in taper candles.

Overdip Wax Formula

My personal preference is to make my tapers the same color throughout, using the formula above. Some folks prefer to make the tapers white and color them with an overdip. The following is a color overdip formula - do not use it in the core of the candle.

Pigments contain opaque suspended solids and allow the rapid buildup of color. Those same suspended solids will clog your wick if used in the core of the candle though. Regular candle dyes are transparent and will not provide good color when used in an overdip.

Making The Candles

There are two common techniques for making tapers - dipping and molding.

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 August 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: