As the waves of people reaching for organics and "natural" products has increased, the candle world has also seen a surge in people looking for natural candles. In the candle market, natural candles refer to candles made from soy wax, palm wax, and beeswax. The trend is veering away from artificial ingredients and colors, too. You can natural colorants in soap making, so how does it work for candles? Can you use the same natural ingredients?
The short answer is "yes," you can use a lot of the same herbs and spices. Although, some do not work as well as others. Find out more about the process to make natural soy candles using natural ingredients for coloration. Learn which ingredients work and find out which do not.
Why It Works
First, it is important to note that regular pigments and other dispersed colors like micas and oxides don't work well in candles because they clog the wick. So, instead, you need to do a more delicate process of making an herbal oil infusion for soap making. Since soy wax is just modified soybean oil, it stands to reason that it would work. Also be aware that natural colors are often more sensitive to fading than synthetic colors.
What You Need
You can use a Crock-Pot and coffee filters to make natural colored wax candles in about 24 hours.
The full ingredients list is jars, soy container wax, the herb or spice, coffee filters, and twist ties to infuse color in about 24-hours.
Using madder root, alkanet root, annatto seeds, peppermint, and spirulina you can get some nice coloration. The madder root imparts a nice light peach shade. The alkanet gives you a wonderful burgundy red shade. The annatto seeds turn the wax a warm yellow shade and the spirulina imparts a nice warm green hue. The peppermint gave a very light green shade.
Other herbs like comfrey, rose hips, and lavender do not infuse much color at all. Although, the rose hips gave the slightest of an orange tint. With more herb in the filter and more infusion time, you may get the colors to come out a little darker.
The DIY Way
Start by taking jelly jars and put them in a water bath in your crock pot. Fill each jar with about 6 ounces of soy container wax.
Put a bit of the herb you want to infuse into a coffee filter and tie it with a twist tie. Here's how much you need: 1 teaspoon of peppermint, 1/2 teaspoon of madder root powder, 1/2 teaspoon of alkanet root powder, 1/2 teaspoon annatto seeds, and 1/2 teaspoon of spirulina powder.
Put the herb-filled coffee filters into the jars, turn the heat on low, and let them steep for about 24 hours. The wax stays about 130 to 140 degrees. Stir it every few hours to make sure that the infusion spreads throughout into the wax.
After 24 hours, pull the filters out and let them cool. None of the infused colors will affect the burn time or cause clogging of the wick. You may notice a little bit of sediment in the alkanet and spirulina candles, but not enough to affect the candle.
Basically, the process is the same for infusing any herb or plant material into any oil, you mix the two together, put them on a low heat, and let them stew for a while. The difference between the wax and the oil is that the oil is liquid at room temperature, whereas wax is not. You need to keep wax at 120 degrees or hotter to keep it liquid so that the color will infuse.
Alternate DIY Methods
If you want to tweak the DIY method to suit your own personal preferences, go for it. For example, if you do not have a crock pot, jars, or coffee filters then there are ways to adjust this method to make it work for you by using other cooking devices and other infusion methods.
- Other cooking devices: You can use a Crock-Pot, Presto Pot, or Instant Pot for making these candles. A Presto Pot or Instapot is great since you can accurately adjust the temperature and keep it steady a long time. A crockpot on low stays at about 130 degrees.
- No jar method: Instead of using jars, you could do the same just putting the wax into the pot and setting it on low. Be sure to check the temperature so that it doesn't get too hot. You want it to steep at the lowest temperature you can keep the wax liquid.
- Stovetop: While it is possible, do not use a regular pot directly on the stove. There's too much possibility of temperature irregularity.
- Other infusion methods: If you do not want to use a coffee filter, you can also use cheesecloth or a small muslin bag. You want the color to infuse out, without too much of the plant material getting into the wax. With the really fine powders like alkanet and spirulina, it's not quite possible to prevent all of it from making its way to the wax. You may need to let some sediment settle out of the wax or strain it before you make your candles.
- Time: Let it stew. Infuse for at least 24 hours, stirring every 4 to 6 hours. For deeper colors, you can let it go another 24 hours. Past that, you're not going to get much additional color.
- Fragrance oils: Remember if you use fragrance oils or essential oils that have color, these will add some color to the wax as well.