First, however, we will delve into the fascinating subject of color for your candles. Anyone who has shopped for candles has already seen how many color possibilities are available to the consumer. Most of the commercial colors are fairly standard: red, green, blue, pink, orange, purple. The higher-priced lines of candles offer many more colors in more subtle shades, and the recent spate of upscale candle shops, which produce mail-order catalogs, offer such a great range of beautiful and subtle colors as to almost defy belief. “All the colors of the rainbow” have been multiplied to the nth degree.
As a home candlemaker, you have as many possibilities for coloring your candles as does an artist for mixing his or her palette. This is the area of candlemaking that you can have the most fun with as you experiment with the almost endless possibilities. Often, serendipity takes a hand and you accomplish something that you hadn't started out to do! These “happy accidents” deserve recording in your notebook.Serendipity
Betty Oppenheimer describes one such incident in her highly recommended book,
Like many other people, I love the scent of fresh rosemary and decided to try my hand at adding this delightful fragrance to a batch of candles. Once my wax was melted and 20° above its melting point, I added fresh sprigs from my garden and let the mixture steep for hours.
My house was filled with the smell of the herb and I eagerly anticipated burning the tapers I made with the wax. Imagine my disappointment when I lit my first rosemary candle and discovered all its scent had dissipated in the infusion. However, the wax was a beautiful shade of sage green.
Ah, well, you just never know until you try.
This charming story illustrates the always-prevalent trial-and-error component of candlemaking. It's what makes it such a challenge and such an entertainment! Without these little unpredictable delights (and, yes, sometimes disappointments), our home candlemaking might be dull instead of exciting. Who wants to always have a perfectly predictable result? There she was, looking for a particular scent and getting instead a gorgeous, subtle color. Now, I call that a happy accident! (And plus, sage is my own favorite color, and I appreciated the tip on how to achieve it.)Professional Coloring
In commercial, factory-scale candlemaking operations, coloring is done with different methods than are available to the home candlecrafter. This is not a bad thing, as commercial operations use solvents. For example, much coloring in large-scale candlemaking is done with powdered dyes that are dissolved in xylene solvent. I've never come in contact with xylene solvent, but I'm sure I'd not like to have it around my house!
These dye powders are so concentrated that, in many instances, a mere pinch will color several pounds of wax. In addition, these commercial dyes are so finely ground that the workers must wear protective masks over their noses and mouths — or even a respirator — to prevent them from inhaling the dye dust. Therefore, they would be a real danger to the home candlemaker. Fortunately, they aren't available for public consumption.