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Natural Colors in Candles

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Melted Soy Wax

Melted Infused Soy Wax

David Fisher
A candle maker wrote me recently asking if the same natural colorants used in soap making could be used in candles.

Hmmmm. I had to think. Even though "natural" candles are very popular these days, I had never heard of anyone using any natural colorants in candles. I know that pigments and other "dispersed" colors like micas and oxides don't work well in candles because they clog the wick. But I wasn't sure about an "infused" color. You can make an herbal oil infusion for soap making - and soy wax is just modified soy bean oil - so I decided to try it!

  1. I started by taking eight jelly jars and putting them in a water bath in my crock pot. I filled each jar with about 6 ounces of soy container wax. (For additional step-by-step photos of the entire process, view the Natural Colors in Candles Gallery.)
  2. I put a bit of the herb I wanted to infuse into a coffee filter and tied it with a twist tie. The herbs I used were:
    • comfrey - 1 tsp.
    • rose hips powder - 1 tsp.
    • peppermint - 1 tsp.
    • lavender - 2 tsp.
    • madder root powder - 1/2 tsp
    • alkanet root powder - 1/2 tsp.
    • annatto seeds - 1/2 tsp.
    • spirulina powder - 1/2 tsp.
  3. I dropped the herb-filled coffee filters into the jars, turned the heat on low and let them steep/brew for about 24 hours.
  4. The wax stayed about 130-140 degrees. I stirred it every few hours to make sure that the infusion was getting into the wax.
  5. After 24 hours, I pulled the filters out and let them cool. (For step by step photos of the entire process and the tests, view the Natural Colorants in Soy Wax Gallery. The comfrey, rose hips and lavender didn't infuse much color at all. The rose hips gave the slightest of orange tint. The peppermint gave a very light green shade. The madder root gave a nice light peach shade. The alkanet gave a wonderful burgundy red shade. The annatto gave a nice warm yellow and the spirulina gave a nice warm green. With more herb in the filter, and more infusion time, the colors would be darker.
  6. In the tests I've done so far, none of the infused colors seems to be affecting the burn time or clogging the wick - but you'll want to test it for yourself. I did get a bit of sediment in the alkanet and spirulina jars...but not enough to affect the candle really.
The really exciting thing is that you really can make a nicely colored natural candle using soy wax, essential oils, and infusing the wax with one of these natural colorants.

So...for the basics of how to infuse wax yourself, go to the page 2.

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