Monday, May 16, 2011

Melting Point, Pour Point, Flash Point

by Shanda Lynn Markham, BellaOnline's Candlemaking Editor

Measurements are a key component in candle making. For the candle maker wanting to pursue selling their candles it is critical. To sell candles, you must be able to re-create the formula and if you have not measured or written down everything, how can you duplicate it? Although I like some forms of math, this kind just gives me headaches! It is my least favorite aspect of candle making.

Weight vs. volume is one of the first things to focus on. To refresh our memories weight is the actual volume of the product and volume is how much space it takes up. With that being said, can you see why it is important? Fragrance oils have different densities. For example, 1 oz. of patchouli may look less in a container compared to 1oz. of strawberry, but in reality they weight the same, one is just denser than the other. For this reason, weight is the more accurate measure in candle making. If you use 1 oz. by volume of a denser fragrant it is going to affect your final product. It could be too much and cause the candle to sweat. I always recommend weighing all LIQUID ingredients by weight.

On the other hand, this reasoning does not hold true with “dry” ingredients. For example, 1 tsp. of Vybar 260 weighs only 1/10 of an oz., not 1/6 of an ounce. (Water is used to determine how much 1 tsp. weighs). So if you went by weight on it, you would in reality be using too much Vybar. Confused yet? It is important to remember that the common weight ratios are measured using water. Some ingredients are going to be lighter than water and others heavier. 1 lb. of wax is equivalent to 20 oz. when melted, not 16 oz. I know it can be too confusing so I am going to go over some common measurements and how to change your ratios.

1 lb. = 16 oz. = 454 g = 454 ml = 32 Tbsp. (by volume) = 96 tsp. (by volume)
1 oz. = 28.4 g = 2 Tbsp. (by volume) = 16 tsp. (by volume)
1 cup (by volume) = 8 oz. (by volume) = ½ lb. (by volume) = 48 tsp. (by volume) = 6 Tbsp. (by volume)
1 tsp. (by volume) = 1/6 oz. (by volume) = 1/3 Tbsp. (by volume) = ~4.7g = 4.7 ml
1 Tbsp. (by volume) = 3 tsp. (by volume) = ~ ½ oz. = ~14 g = 14 ml
1 lb. of beeswax = 16 volume ounces
1 lb. of soy wax = 18 volume ounces
1 lb. of paraffin wax = 20 volume ounces

One of the ways I try to look at this is if it fits in a measuring cup/spoon it is a volume weight. Weight to volume conversion cannot be used with dry materials accurately.

So now we have a semblance of understanding about measuring our materials. We’ve been given a recipe going by pound, how would we convert it? My recipe calls for 1 lb. of wax, 1 tsp. of Vybar, and 1 oz. of scent. Now I want to make 10 lbs. of this formula. I simply multiply each by 10 to get 10 lbs. of wax, 10 tsp. of Vybar (or 3 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp.), and 10 oz. of scent. I will only use measuring spoons on my Vybar and will weight my wax and scent.

Now we’ve been given a recipe using percentages. The key to this is that all percentages of ingredients used must total 100%. For example, I have a recipe calling for 90% paraffin, 1% Vybar, and 9% scent. These percentages do total 100% and would make 100 lbs. of mix. But what if I only wanted to make 10 lbs.? I would take each component and divide by 10 and get 9 lbs. of paraffin, 1/10 of a lb. of Vybar and 1/10 percent of scent. Looking at my above list, 1/10 of a lb. of Vybar would be equivalent to 9.6 tsp. of Vybar and 1.6 oz. of scent.

Believe it or not, some recipes use proportions, parts. It may call for 90 parts wax, 1 part Vybar, and 6 parts scent for a total of 97 parts. The parts can represent whatever measurement you are using. Usually you are using pounds of wax, not ounces so thinking in terms of pounds would be best. But what if I only wanted to use 10 lbs. of wax? I would divide my 97 by 10 giving me 9.7. I then would divide the other “parts” by 9.7. Since it would all be represented by pounds I would have to use my conversion to find ounces and teaspoons. If I wanted to increase I would still divide my overall parts by the amount I wanted to use, but I would then multiply the other parts by that result instead of divide. Proportions can be very challenging, but you can easily convert them to percentages. Simply take your total parts and divide by actual parts which would be 97/90 and then multiply by 100. Likewise, the Vybar would be 97/1 multiplied by 100.

To find how much wax to use for your project, fill the container you are using with water and weigh for ounces. Multiply this answer by how many containers you are filling and then divide by 20. For example, I am making 10 2 oz. votives, which gives me 20 total ounces divided by 20 (how many ounces by volume are in 1 lb. of wax) giving me 1. I would then know to use 1 lb. of wax for this project. That is the super simple formula. If you are adding fragrance oils and additives you will need to remember to allow for those.

Permission to reprint by Shanda Lynn Markham, BellaOnline's Candlemaking Editor.
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