By now, just about every candle maker has seen or heard some sort of buzz about the palm wax and its many benefits to both the professional candle maker and the hobbyist. We get many calls each day requesting information about our palm wax, so we figured it is time to trumpet our knowledge to everybody. Over the last 30 years we have introduced many developments to the candle world, but none have impacted the industry as the explosion of natural waxes within the last 5 years.
Palm wax is an all-natural, renewable resource that is obtained from the oil palm in Southeast Asia. Due to its environmentally friendly attributes, palm wax offers a whole new choice for candle makers who market sustainable or renewable resource based extensions to their candle lines. It has been grown as a commercial crop in well managed and regulated estates since the early 1900’s. The oil palm produces fruit in bunches which are harvested, and sent to palm oil mills where the oils are extracted, sterilized, clarified and purified into crude palm oil. The crude oil is then sent to palm oil refineries where it is processed further into products such as cooking oil, shortening, cocoa butter substitutes, non-dairy creamers, soaps, and of course everybody’s favorite – Palm Wax.
Palm wax is a superb material for making excellent burning candles. It resists melting in hot summer months, has high contraction (making de-molding easier), takes colors easily, holds fragrance well, and best of all, can be easily manipulated to produce an infinite array of surface patterns ranging from complex crystalline designs to smooth solid colors. Palm waxes blend well with other waxes to further expand your possibilities.
Using palm wax is very similar to traditional candle making techniques except there are no additives required other than fragrance and coloring. We offer palm waxes for making container candles or freestanding pillars. The crystal formations can be achieved for either style of candle and are greatly influenced by the pouring temperature and rate of cooling. By adjusting these variables slightly, candle makers can create a wonderful array of crystal formations. The ideal pouring temperature is between 199 and 203 F. Going above the temperature will actually decrease the crystal formations to achieve a smooth solid color. Pouring below these temperatures may make it harder to de-mold or cause deformations. Aluminum molds work best for producing crystals (see next article about using aluminum molds) as well as slowing the rate of cooling.
Palm candles emit fragrance quite nicely. Usually candle makers will use 5-6% fragrance loads to start for a nicely scented candle that does not “sweat”. Some scents may be used at higher levels, but it is up to the candle maker to push the levels on a case-by-case basis. Essential oils also work well, but they must be tested on an individual basis depending on strength and type of oil.
Coloring your palm candles is achieved with most oil soluble dyes. We suggest trying our EVO series liquid dyes. Always start light and gradually go deeper with each color, so you can master how the contrast affects the color selection between the darker colors and the lighter candles as compared to the crystalline appearance. The Palm 3 feathering wax will actually appear to change shades as you rotate it in the light – truly amazing.
Wick selection is similar to other natural wax candles. Be sure to get wicks that are specifically treated to work with natural wax and are designed to resist breakdown in natural candles. The CD, HTP, ECO Series, and RRD series of wicks all do very well depending on fragrance loads and diameter of the candle.