When I started getting into this realm of candle making, I was not sure which wax to start with. I found several candle-making kits out there for beginners.
It can all be very confusing when you are first getting started, so I thought it would be a good idea to do the research and break down the decision-making process of how to decide which wax to use for your candles.
What Is the Best Wax to Use When Starting to Make Candles?
Soy wax is the easiest wax to start with and found most commonly in the candle-making starter kits. However, there is also a coconut-paraffin wax blend that is considered easy to work with and beginner friendly, as well.
The type of wax you choose really comes down to your purpose and personal preference, but these two types of waxes are the best to start with when making container candles.
How Do You Decide Which Wax to Use When Making Candles?
It depends on the type of candle you are making, which will determine the optimum melting temperature and help you decide on the wax.
Pillar candles should melt at 137-150 °F, which would be a beeswax or wax blend. Votive candles should melt at 130-142 °F, which means you want a high-melting paraffin or a wax blend. Container candles should have a melting point of 121-129 °F, which would lead to paraffin or a wax blend being the best options.
I have done some research and created this helpful guide to help you decide which wax to use, whether you are going to be making your first candle or whether you have experimented already and want a better understanding of candle wax options.
I’ve included a table that summarizes the information, but first, I will discuss the various types of candles you can make and the different types of waxes you could use. Then, I will review the factors you will want to consider to determine which wax you will want to use.
|Type of Wax||Types of Candles Best Used For||Melting Temperature of Wax (°Fahrenheit)||Price||Shelf Life||Fragrance Load, Hot/Cold Throw||Natural or Vegan?|
|Paraffin||Container Pillar Votive Taper Tealight||99 °F (low melting wax)|
130 °F (high melting wax)
|Least expensive option|
|5 years||Combines well with fragrances, good cold, hot throw||Not natural, but considered vegan|
|Soy||Container Tealight Votive||120 °F||Affordable|
|2 years||A little more difficult than paraffin, but still user-friendly||Yes|
Taper Votive Container Tealight
no real “expiration” date
|Difficult, has a natural honey color/scent||Natural, but not vegan|
|Palm||Pillar Votive Container Tealight Taper?||180 °F||More than paraffin, Affordable-Expensive, depending on where||<1-2 years||Does well, generally no problem||Yes, but can be obtained through controversial deforestation methods|
|Coconut||Container, in low-temp. regions||86-103 °F||Expensive |
|<2 years||Does well, good cold, hot throw||Yes|
|Gel||Container, use only approved, heat-resistant containers||180 °F||Affordable|
|No known expiration date, as long as it is still clear||Tricky, an imperfect fragrance load could explode||Not natural, but is vegan|
Types of Candles
What are you doing with the wax? What type of candles are you making?
You need to decide first what you are going to be doing with the wax and what type of candles you are going to be making before you decide on a wax.
There are 5 basic types of candles you can make: container, pillar, votive, taper, and tealight candles.
1 – Container Candles
Container candles are simply that, candles within a container, usually a glass or tin jar of some kind. To find out more about which type of glass jar is the best for candle-making, check out my blog post “Is All Glass Safe for Candles?”
For a container candle, you want to use a wax with a melting point of 121-129 °F, which would mean your best options are paraffin wax or a wax blend of some kind.
As mentioned earlier, soy and a coconut-paraffin wax blend are the best waxes to use when you are first getting into making container candles. You don’t want the container to get too hot, so you don’t want a high-melting temperature wax.
Side note about gel wax: This is why it is so important to be using an appropriate, heat-resistant container when using gel wax. Gel wax has a very high melting temperature of 180 °F, which means the container it is in will get very hot as the candle melts. Therefore, you want to make sure the gel wax candle container is able to withstand the heat of the gel wax. Gel candles have been known to explode.
2 – Pillar Candles
Pillar candles are free-standing candles that do not require a container to sit within. They are able to be lit and burned without having to be placed in a vessel to hold the wax. Pillar candles maintain their form and keep their shape as they burn down.
However, it is highly recommended that you have a safe surface to burn the pillar candle on. To learn more about safe surfaces to burn candles on, check out my blog post “What Can I Burn a Candle On: Safe Surfaces to Burn Candles” at this link here.
For pillar candles, you want the melting point of the wax to be 137-150 °F, which would lead to beeswax or a wax blend as your best options. The wax you use for pillar candles should be sturdy, which means it will have a higher melting point, and should be able to retain its outer structure as it melts down.
3 – Votive Candles
Votive candles are like pillar-candles, in that they are free-standing, but once they are lit and start to melt, they do not keep their shape or form. Therefore, votive candles need to be placed within a container when lit. Votive candles are generally placed within a glass jar or other decorative, safe container for use.
For a votive candle, you want to use a wax with a melting temperature of 130-142 °F, which means your best option is a high-melting paraffin wax or another wax blend in this temperature range. The wax used for votive candles should be sturdier than wax you would put in a container, but it doesn’t need to be as strong or firm as a pillar candle wax.
Votives are intended to go inside of a jar and melt within the container. So, the way I would describe a votive candle is that they start off looking like a small, pillar-like candle that becomes a container candle when it is lit and starts to melt.
4 – Taper Candles
Taper candles are similar to free-standing pillar candles, in that they keep their shape when lit and do not melt into a puddly goo, but are usually much taller and skinnier. Taper candles are usually only an inch or less in diameter and do not stand on their own. Taper candles are placed in candlestick-holders, because they would fall over otherwise.
Taper candles are made through a dipping technique, which involves dipping a wick into wax, allowing it to dry straight, and repeating the procedure until enough wax has built up around the wick.
They are generally made from two different types of waxes with different melting points, so that the final product is “drip-less,” meaning the wax does not pour down the sides while burning. The higher melting point wax is used to make the outer “shell” of the taper, as a protective layer.
Generally, no fragrance is usually added, that is why beeswax is the most recommended wax for tapers, because it has a natural honey scent.
The only information I found regarding melting temperatures for tapers was 135-145 °F for the inner layer of wax and 160-165 °F for the outer layer. Paraffin can also be used to make taper candles.
5 – Tealight Candles
Tealight candles are small, round candles that are usually within a tin or metal container. They are generally about 1 ½ inch in diameter and no more than an inch tall.
Tealights are essentially small container candles within a small tin cup. If you are just getting into candle-making, most likely you are going to be starting out with making container candles. Therefore, as I said earlier, it is probably best to start with soy wax, because it is easy to work with and beginner-friendly. Other waxes are not so beginner-friendly and little more difficult to work with.
I could not find any information regarding an ideal temperature of a tealight, but I would assume since it is essentially a tiny container candle, that it would be similar to the temperature range for a container candle. You don’t want it to be too high.
The two waxes that are recommended the most for tealights are paraffin and soy.
Types of Waxes
It is important to understand the differences in the various types of waxes.
In this section, I’m going to give a quick summary of the different types of waxes that are available, so you have the basic information about them and can make your own decision depending on what type of project you are planning to do.
- Melting Temperature: Paraffin wax has a melting point ranging from 99-130 °F, depending on if you are using the low-melting point wax or the high-melting point wax.
- Paraffin wax can be used for any type of candle you are making: pillar, container, tealight, votive, and taper.
- Paraffin wax combines well with fragrances and dyes.
- Price: Paraffin wax is considered to be the least-expensive wax option.
- Paraffin wax is made as a petroleum by-product, so it is not considered “all-natural.”
- Soy wax has a melting point of 120 °F.
- Soy wax is best used for container candles, tealights, and votives. Soy wax is not intended for free-standing candles, such as pillars and tapers.
- Soy wax does not combine as easily with fragrances and dyes as paraffin wax does and takes more fragrance/dye than paraffin would. Therefore, the hot/cold scent throw is less than paraffin wax and harder to achieve.
- Soy wax is made from hydrogenated soybean oil and is considered 100% all-natural and vegan.
- Beeswax has a melting point of 145 °F.
- Beeswax is considered rare and expensive.
- Beeswax can be used to make any type of candle: pillar, container, votive, taper, and tealights.
- Since beeswax is made from bees, it is 100% all-natural, but not vegan-friendly.
- The melting point of palm wax is 180 °F, which is considered a high melting point.
- Palm wax can be used to make pillars, container candles, votives, and tealights.
- I found some resources that suggested palm wax is not considered good for taper candles. However, I did find a palm wax taper product being sold. I don’t know how successful the product is, but thought I should mention it. Maybe sometime later on I can try it out myself!
- Palm wax is made from hydrogenated palm oil, 100% all-natural, and vegan-friendly.
- Coconut wax has a very low melting point, at 86-103 °F.
- Coconut wax is Organic/Natural/Vegan.
- It is usually blended with another wax, such as paraffin or soy, due to its low melting temperature, which will increase the melting point of the final product.
- Since coconut wax melts quickly, it would not be a good option to make a candle 100% coconut wax.
- Coconut wax is also difficult and expensive to ship due to its low melting temperature.
- The melting point of gel wax is 180 °F, which is also a high melting point wax.
- Gel wax should only be used to make container candles.
- Gel wax is composed of mineral oil and polymer resin, so it is not “natural,” but is technically vegan.
- Is a gel wax blend possible? There is very little information out there about combining gel wax with other waxes. It seems gel wax is generally not combined with other waxes, but it appears to be possible to mix gel wax with soy and/or paraffin.
- Some of these waxes can be combined together to make wax blends, which would alter the melting temperature, such as a paraffin-soy blend or the coconut-paraffin blend I mentioned at the beginning of the article.
- Wax blends can be used to make pillars, container, tealights, and votives.
- Keep in mind that if you are combining a natural wax with paraffin it is no longer 100% “all-natural” and you cannot (or should not) promote it as “vegan-friendly.”
- You can experiment to find your own blend or purchase pre-made wax blends. Before ordering a pre-made wax blend from a manufacturer, make sure you look at its specifications, including melting temperature, fragrance load, etc.
Determining Factors When Picking a Wax
Type of Candle
As already discussed, you want to first decide what type of candle you are making when deciding what type of wax to use. The wax you will choose will depend on if you are making a pillar candle, votive candle, tealight, taper candle, or container candle.
Wax Melting Point
The melting point of the wax is another factor to consider when picking what type of wax to use. If you are making a candle to ship to a friend that lives in a hot climate, I would not make a 100% coconut or even a low-melting paraffin candle to send to my friend in Florida during the summer months.
Coconut wax has the lowest melting temperature.
Each wax has a different shelf life and duration for best results. Beeswax has a long shelf life, takes a long time to make, and is considered rare. Soy wax is more common, but has a much shorter shelf life. Paraffin wax is a longer shelf life than soy. Gel wax has no known expiration date.
Each wax has a different shelf life, or “expiration date.” Beeswax and gel wax last the longest.
If you would like more information about expiration dates of candle waxes, you can read my blog post article “Expiration Dates of Candle Waxes and Proper Storage Techniques.”
Because beeswax takes longer to make and is considered rare, it is much more expensive than the other waxes. Soy wax and paraffin are much more affordable.
The price points of waxes can vary, so one major determining factor in choosing your wax will be your budget. How much are you willing to spend? There are some very, high-end types of waxes and you can also buy the more common waxes that are more affordable.
Fragrance Load and Cold/Hot Throw
Knowing how easy or difficult it is to combine a wax with fragrance is important.
Beeswax has a distinctive honey smell and it is difficult to combine beeswax with other fragrances or essential oils to get a good cold or hot throw.
The other waxes are able to be combined with fragrances and essentials oils easier than beeswax.
Some waxes require a higher fragrance load. Fragrance load is the percentage of fragrance you add to the wax to get the cold and hot throw you want.
If you are interested in how to get a better fragrance throw with your candles, you can check out my article “How to Get a Further Scent (Fragrance) Throw with Your Candle” here.
Soy wax, beeswax, palm wax, and coconut wax are the four waxes that are considered natural, because they come from “natural” substances of the earth: soybeans, bees, palm berries, and coconuts, respectively.
If this is a factor that is important to you, these would be your 4 options.
Is it important to you that your candle is vegan-friendly? If so, you essentially have 5 options: paraffin, soy, palm, coconut, or gel.
However, something to keep in mind is if you have to add any additives to your wax or purchase a pre-made wax blend, it is probably no longer “vegan.”
It is common practice to add UV inhibitors, stearic acid, or other additives to the wax to help increase certain qualities/characteristics of the candle, such as appearance, hot/cold throw, and UV protection (color fading).
Therefore, I’m not sure if you can actually call a candle 100% all-natural or “vegan-friendly” if you are adding these types of chemicals.
Another option that is more vegan-friendly would be to use essential oils, rather than fragrances, to add scent to your candle.
Soy Wax vs. Coconut-Paraffin Blend
Most people start with making container candles first. It is the easiest to begin with and learn the candle-making process. Most candle kits include containers to start with.
Other waxes to make other types of candles such as pillars and votives are a little more complicated and require some finesse to handle.
Soy wax is easy to work with, has a reasonable melting temperature, and combines fairly easily with fragrances. In fact, that is probably the most common appealing quality of why people make candles is to get the scents they like.
A coconut-paraffin wax blend was designed specifically for use in specialty container candles. It combines the great scent throw of paraffin with the slow burn rate of coconut. It has excellent glass adhesion. Seems to work well with any type of wick.
Making Your Decision
Once you’ve decided what type of candle you are making (container vs. pillar, etc.) and what type of wax you want to use (soy vs. paraffin, etc.), then you have to pick a brand of wax to buy.
If you would like more information about the different brands of wax and where to buy them, you can check out my “Candle Wax Basics” article, where I break down the names of the most popular types of waxes and different candle suppliers that offer them.
If you are interested in my specific wax recommendations, you can check out my recommended products page here.
Whatever wax you decide to use will provide you many hours of entertainment developing your skills with this hobby!