Testing Things Out
Hello and welcome to another CandleCalm blog,
I hope you're all doing well?
Grab a cuppa, ignite your scents, sit back, relax and have a little read.
I'm going to cast my mind back towards mid-2019, when Nok started making candles, and turned my kitchen into Pablo Escobar's dream workshop.
Yep it's true, she turned my culinary temple into something out of Breaking Bad. If we had visitors, I'd be quick to explain to them, my wife's hobby and interest out of fear that the Police would be kicking down our front door shortly after they'd left.
There were scientific measuring cylinders and jars everywhere. Weighing scales, strainers, oil blending equipment, Bunsen burners and thermometers filled the worktops and drawers and my pots and pans were demoted to the tops of cupboards and to the inside of the oven. The kitchen genuinely looked like a crystal meth lab.
NOTE: This is a scene from Breaking Bad, not my kitchen. Please don't kick in our front door!
For the first few months, after I'd gotten over the sorrow that my kitchen had been commandeered, I began to wonder if she was eating the wax, as I hadn't so much as seen a candle, let alone smell one!
We had a 45kgs box of wax delivered one day, and I thought to myself "Blimey, that's gonna be a lot of candles" only to be graced with a few on the windowsill and a small batch, filling 90ml candle glasses which were given to friends and family.
Where these little wax filled thimbles really the result of all of this kitchen heartache?
That was it, I'd had enough!
I wasn't going to work in order to support the nearest wax refinery and I certainly wasn't going to keep the electricity connected when we should have had enough candles to light the Great Wall of China. So, I bravely stood up to my wife (an endeavor that many of us men have gotten wrong on so many occasions) and asked her what the wax tasted like?
After she consulted her rules of engagement and decided that severe reprimand would suffice as punishment for my rude and abrupt enquiry, she began educating me on candle testing.
Little did I know about this, but I bet you can guess already, that I was in for some candle testing reprogramming.
So, it turns out you can't simply melt wax, throw in some smelly stuff, mix it together and drop that, along with a wick, into a jar?
It turns out that are are some very, very, very strict rules that you must first reveal before following. Kinda like a new relationship, when your 'returning home from the pub time' gets earlier and earlier until you reveal the returning time that suits the reprimand. A fine balance as it were.
Here's some candle stuff I learned from my wife, the candle expert:
- So, the jar is really important. When doing the burn test, it can't get too hot and you should be able to handle the jar at any stage during the burn. The bottom should never get too hot, even when the flame is about to burn out, as this will damage fragile surfaces below. Also, the jar must be suitable for hot contents and must not weaken with heat. We requested samples of 8 different candle jars before settling upon the one we have now. Taking into account the following testing parameters.....nightmare lol.
- The dimensions of the jar and the type of wax you will use will determine your wick. There are so, so many wicks out there to choose from. I think we ordered 6 different wicks for our jar size and wax type. We then had to burn all of these in full candles with essential oil loaded wax to identify the cleanest, safest and most economical burn with good scent throw. Nightmare lol.
- The wax is super important, obviously. We wanted natural, sustainable and clean burning wax, so we went for soy wax, but it turns out that this wax doesn't like to play with aesthetics very nicely. There are so many brands of soy wax, and every batch behaves differently, which means testing with every delivery. Depending on the following atmospherics, your wax would either set not too badly, or would set looking like a cup full of mash potato: Room temperature, Candle jar temperature, Wax heated temperature, Essential oil temperature, Essential oil mixing temperature, Wax pouring temperature, Essential oil and wax mix ratio. All these have to be adjusted until you get that one candle, after you've tested about 20 times, that sets just right and smells great, only to realise you haven't written the temperature set points down. Nightmare lol.
- Essential oils blends are not simply thrown together either, they are blended in delicate parts taking into account the volume of wax, the note they carry and their strength. Our candles are loaded with 10% essential oils, which is slightly over the manufacturers recommendations, but we get a great scent throw and the wax sets nicely at our settings. Some of our candles may have 3-5 essential oils, all with different ratios such as; 6-3-1 or 2-2-3-3 etc. This takes a lot of trial and effort and is very costly. Nightmare lol.
- Once you think you've got it down to a fine art, you then have to make a tonne of these and dish them out for free to friends and family. We tried to give them away to people who would be critical. Family and close friends will always be nice and tell you your candles, apple pie, lasagna, painting, poems etc. are all the best they've ever seen. They don't want to hurt your feelings after all. So remember, if your getting into this industry, once you've gone firm on that one particular finely balanced blend of wax and oils, give your candles to those friends who have no problem hurting your feelings. You know, the ones who tell you, in the middle of pub, after your 3rd-4th drink, that you've come out dressed like and idiot or that your aftershave stinks etc. These are your best friends in this case. Nightmare lol.
So, as you can see, before we had an aesthetically sound, beautifully scented and functioning candle, that I could sit back, relax and enjoy, there was a lot that had to be done.
In all honesty, I'm not the candle guru my wife is, but watching her work and conduct test after test after test, gave me the confidence to tell her to start her own candle company. These are genuinely amazing, long lasting and very therapeutic candles and I use them myself, whilst I read or work.
At some point, I'll most probably blog about my marketing strategy, but something I'll leave you all with, which sits heavily within this subject is, that after all of the above, we don't go for snazzy packaging and labels, these just add an unnecessary cost to CandleCalmers....we just want a great candle and for our product to do our talking.
Ignite your scents and stay safe CandleCalmers x