Those little bits of wax and wick in your drawers or on the department store shelf represent big business. Candles sales in the U.S. alone reach $2.3 billion annually, according to one estimate. But you don’t have that kind of cash, do you? (You probably wouldn’t be Broke & Chic if you were. You would just be Chic.)
Understanding what you’re getting to brighten your home or for a last-minute gift is vital to getting the most out of it. Here’s what you need to know about what makes different types of candles:
Types of Candles Based on Materials
Each candle combines at least three things: a fibrous wick, a waxy fuel source, and a stand or container. The most basic candles will have only these components and only do what candles are meant to do—provide heat and light.
Candlemakers often add other stuff to make the candles do other things such as smell good or look a certain way. These additives open up the vast majority of the many, many candle options out there.
The post will skip containers and bases because they are all but self-explainable: they hold the candle. The end.
Most wicks are wound or braided fibers. Here are the more common types:
- Flat wicks consist of three flat-plaited or knitted wicks. Often, they curl and burn to ash as the flame burns up the wax, trimming itself. They are the most common wicks come in pillar and taper candles
- Square wicks fit best with beeswax candles. They are more robust with curl; but also resist clogs that come from additives.
- Cored Wicks use a bit of material in the fiber to make it rigid during the candle-making process. This allows the wick to stay much straighter during burning. Common materials are cotton, tin or zinc. They are common in jar candles and devotional lights.
- Paraffin wax is the most common candle fuel. It is a petroleum byproduct. It comes from the process of refining crude oil. In some sense, it is a natural product depending on your interpretation.
- Beeswax is exactly what it sounds like. It is a mixture of pollen oil and oil that bees secrete from their bodies. The bees mix the bee secretion with the pollen oil to make beeswax.
- Vegetable wax comes from an extraction process of various edible plants. The process involves a great deal of heat and crushing.
- Soy and palm wax comes out a basically similar process but uses soybeans and palm seeds as the processed material.
- Gel wax is most unlike all the other materials in that it exists in an almost clear form and is the most chemically complicated. It is a mixture of mineral oil and polymer resin.
Hundreds of scented candles make up just one brand or collection. Taken as a sum all candle makers out there, there are millions of possible scents and scent combination.
All of those scents come with their own subtlety and effects, influencing the mood or the vibe of the space it burns in. Read on here about the complexity of good types of candles.
Now that you understand more about makes up the types of candles out there, you can smartly navigate those pungent mall stores and get exactly what you want.
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