Collection of wooden wicks and green glass candle jars preparing to pour candles.

Creating a Candle Part I: Testing

Candle making is deceptively simple - wax, wick, fragrance, jar and you have a candle. Within that simple recipe lies months and months of rigorous testing and creating, in an often exhausting - but ultimately rewarding - blend of art and science. 

The Testing Process

Each candle we sell has undergone months of testing before it ever goes online. The process begins with finding a fragrance I love and making a first test jar candle. That first test looks at the combination of fragrance oil percentage and wick size for three key things:

  • does it smell nice?
  • does it burn well?
  • is it safe? 
Empty green glass jars with wooden wicks ready to pour candles.

That first test jar might fail on any of those dimensions, and I start all over again with a new combination (less fragrance oil, a bigger or smaller wick). Once I have a successful candle system, I make a batch of that system and test again, burning each candle in 4 hour increments until the candle is burned out. Every hour of testing I measure the size of the flame, check on the temperature of the jar to ensure it isn't getting too hot, and look at the amount of soot and wick debris (hopefully minimal!). Then I break all the candle rules and do things like burn that candle for 10 hours straight (don't do this! You shouldn't burn a candle longer than 4 hours at a time) to make sure it is still at a safe temperature. 

While a good smelling candle is obviously the ultimate goal, what I'm looking for here is ensuring that the candle is as safe and clean-burning as a tiny open flame you put in your house can possibly be. 

Test burning a candle
Finally, I make a batch of each successful candle to hand out to friends and family for feedback, since different home environments and temperatures can change the way a candle burns. There are some candles that have gone through this whole process repeatedly that I still don't sell on the website because I'm just not quite happy with the burn yet. The testing doesn't stop there either - I continue to test random candles from each batch of 'success' candles to make sure they're still performing the way I expect. Check out Part II of creating a candle - curating fragrances to learn more about the fragrance testing process. 
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