You have a number of options when it's time to add color to your homemade candles. Many novice candlemakers think they can skip buying specialized colorants for their candles and instead use crayons for an inexpensive, easy-to-find alternative. You might assume it's a good idea since both candles and crayons are made of wax. While you can technically use crayons to color candle wax, the results are not ideal. There are much better options out there that are still inexpensive and readily available.
Why Crayons Aren't a Good Option for Coloring Candles
Here's the science behind why crayons shouldn't be used for candlemaking:
Like paint, crayons are colored with pigments. Pigments appear to change an object or substance's color by reflecting or absorbing different wavelengths of light. However, the pigments don't dissolve in wax; instead, they're dispersed throughout the wax, floating around in it. This might not seem like an issue and a candle colored with crayons might look perfectly fine when it's finished––until you light it.
As the wax melts and gets carried through the wick to the flame, the pigments will clog the wick. Think of it like dirty deposits in your gasoline that clog up your fuel line––that's what happens with pigments. The pigments that don't clog the wick tend to settle and concentrate at the bottom of the melted wax, so your once beautiful candle won't be so pretty after a few uses. Even worse, your candle will burn with sooty smoke, until the wick gets so clogged that it stops burning altogether. These are obviously not the results you want when you've worked hard to make your own candles.
Dyes Are Best
The best solution for coloring candle wax is a dye. The difference between pigment and dye is that dye actually dissolves into the wax and won't clog the wick, which is why dyes are the preferred colorant for making candles.
There are a number of dyes available that are specifically made for candle wax. They come in liquid and chip form, are inexpensive, and can be found at most craft stores. They will produce the best results.
How to Color Candle Wax Naturally
Infusing the wax with natural colors is a fun option that will yield better results than using crayons, particularly if you're interested in making all-natural candles. Herbs like comfrey, lavender, and rosehip can be used to add interesting colors to your wax. This method works because the color is actually dissolved in the wax, just like a dye.
Do not try to mix ground herbs or spices directly into the candle wax; you'll encounter the same problem as with the crayons, resulting in a clogged wick. That's because the powder would act as a pigment in the wax, rather than a dye. Infusing is key here.