The term "natural candles" refers to candles made from soy wax, palm wax, and beeswax and free from artificial ingredients and colors. You can use natural colorants in soap-making, but can you use the same natural ingredients in your homemade candles? While you can use a lot of the same herbs and spices in candles, some do not work as well as others. There are a few tricks to learn to make natural soy candles that use natural ingredients for coloration.
Regular pigments and other dispersed colors like micas and oxides don't work well in candles because they clog the wick. Additionally, the process of extracting the herbal oils that color the wax needs to be more delicate than what you would use for soap-making. Because soy wax is just modified soybean oil, it stands to reason that this natural infusion method does work. The difference between the soy wax and the soy oil used in soaps is that the oil is liquid at room temperature, whereas wax is not. You need to keep wax at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter to keep it liquid so the color will infuse.
It's also good to be aware that natural colors are often more sensitive to fading than synthetic colors. When not in use, it's best to keep these all-natural soy candles in a dark place.
Choosing Herbs and Spices
Using madder root, alkanet root, annatto seeds, peppermint, and spirulina can result in a 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.
- The spirulina imparts a nice warm green hue, while peppermint gives candles a very light green shade.
Other herbs, including comfrey, rose hips, and lavender, do not infuse as much color into the wax, although the rose hips will give it a slight orange tint.
Equipment / Tools
- Slow cooker
- Jelly jars
- Soy container wax
- Herbs or spices of your choice
- Coffee filters
- Twist ties
Put Jars in Slow Cooker
Start by putting jelly jars in a water bath in the slow cooker. Fill each jar with about 6 ounces of soy container wax.
Make Herb Satchels
Place the herb into a coffee filter—one for each jar—and tie it into a bundle using a twist tie. How much you need depends on the herb. For example, use 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.
Steep the Satchels
Put the herb-filled coffee filters into the jars, turn the heat on low, and let them steep for about 24 hours. The wax should stay around 130 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir it every few hours to make sure that the infusion spreads throughout the wax.
Add Wicks and Cool
After 24 hours, pull the filters out. You can either add the wicks to the jars or pour the melted wax out into other molds or jars that already have wicks in place. Either way, let the wax cool completely. The recommended cure time for soy-based candles is generally one week before they should be burned.
Alternate DIY Methods
Tweak this method to suit your own personal preferences and needs. For example, if you do not have a slow cooker, jars, or coffee filters, there are adjustments you can do to make it work.
- Other cooking devices: As an alternative to a slow cooker, you can use a Presto Pot or Instant Pot to make these candles. Both work because you can accurately adjust the temperature and keep it steady for a long time. A crockpot on the low setting stays at about 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
- No-jar method: Instead of using jars, put the wax into the pot and set it on low. It will make a large batch of melted and infused wax that can be poured into any mold or container. Be sure to check the temperature so it doesn't get too hot. You want it to steep at the lowest temperature possible that keeps the wax in liquid form.
- Other infusion methods: If you do not want to use a coffee filter, you can also use cheesecloth or a small muslin bag. The color should infuse out, without too much of the plant material getting into the wax. With really fine powders such as alkanet and spirulina, it's not quite possible to prevent all of it from making its way into the wax. You may need to let some sediment settle out of the wax or strain it before making your candles.