Blending Basic Colors

Primary colors — red, yellow, blue — are blended to make secondary colors as shown:

red + yellow = orange

yellow + blue = green

blue + red = purple

You can vary the proportions of the primary colors to achieve different shades of the secondary colors, such as a lemon yellow, a mint green, or a lilac or lavender shade of purple. Adding a bit of black will darken the color, but be careful and go extra slowly with black or it can muddy the result.

A Guide to Mixing Colors

White — No color needed

Red — Red color chip

Red seems to be the most powerful — and it can be overpowering — of dyes. Adding red to any mixture will often result in a red-brown color. Recycled blends of used colors of wax (candle ends, leftovers) that have red in them will ordinarily turn out with a reddish cast, even if red is not the largest proportion of color in your mixture.

Cherry red — Red color chip with a small bit of yellow

Pink — Small piece of red color chip; start with only a bit and then increase until you get the shade of pink you want

Wine red — Combine a red color chip, or a part of one, with a bit of blue; again, go slowly

Dusty rose — Start with half a red chip and a quarter of a blue chip; add more red if you want a rosier shade

Yellow — Yellow color chip

Lemon yellow — Start with a quarter of a chip and slowly add more bit by bit until you achieve the color you desire; a rich lemon might also benefit from just a touch of red, but only a hint

Orange — Use one yellow chip and one red chip; try this mixture first and then vary the proportion of yellow to red to achieve the exact shade of orange you want

Tangerine — Use the same formula as above, but increase the proportion of red to yellow — slowly

Blue — Blue color chip

Light blue — Small piece of blue color chip; add more until you achieve the desired result

Dark blue — Blue color chip with a very small piece of black

Green — One blue chip and one yellow chip

Light green — Use less color in the same proportion — half a yellow and half a blue; experiment until you get the shade you like (see “My Rosemary Story” above)

Mint green — Use part blue and part yellow in small amounts, starting with blue and adding yellow until you get the shade you had in mind

Turquoise — Use one blue chip and then add yellow slowly in small amounts until you achieve the shade desired

Purple — One blue chip and one red chip; check this shade and adjust the proportion of red and blue to achieve different hues of purple

Lavender or lilac — Use blue and red. Depending on the exact shade you are striving to achieve, start with either color and add the other until you have what you want.

Black — Black color chip

You probably won't want to make solid black candles very often, except for ritual purposes. Black is used in tiny amounts to darken other colors, but always use with care or you may ruin your batch.

Brown — Use yellow, blue, and red, in that order, starting with yellow and small amounts of blue and red

Honey — Use natural beeswax, or tint other waxes with yellow, adding just a small amount of blue and red. You can get many shades by using three colors, but go slowly.

Decorate, Don't Dye

If you are going to make a decorated candle, you won't need much dye. And, you can also conserve dye by overdipping. If you are going to overdip in color, you don't need the entire candle to be colored. The same applies to candles that are to be decorated. You may want an overdipped color behind your decorations, or you can just use white as a base.

A candle that is made to be decorated — either by painting, overdipping, adhering objects to its surface, and the like (candle decoration is discussed in detail in later chapters) is called a “core candle.” Your core candle can be plain white — you can then color your wax paints in rich, bold colors, make vivid wax sheets for cutouts, and use bright colors for overdipping.

Using Leftover Colored Wax

Chances are you'll always have some colored wax left over. It takes a large amount of wax to make dipped candles, and if you dip in solid color, you'll have a lot left. No matter how experienced you are, it's nearly impossible to melt exactly the amount of wax you will need in a particular color. Still, it is best to make colored wax in the smallest quantity possible for your purposes. And, choose colors that are easily reusable — pink can be turned to rose or red, lavender or purple. On the other hand, five pounds of blazingly bright magenta isn't what you'd call versatile. Of course, if your leftover wax is white, you are home free.

Colorants not made for coloring candles often will clog up the wick's ability to burn its fuel. Using lipsticks, for example, isn't a good idea. Oil paints used for fine arts are not recommended. Any of these products can cause your candle to burn badly.

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