Stearin - the Secret to Successful Candle Making    

What is Stearin?

stearin granules Stearin, (other names for it - stearine or stearic acid), is a mixture of fatty acids, used in candle and soap making.

Triple pressed stearic acid has various industrial uses, and it's found in many products we commonly use. In cosmetics, skin care lotions, liquid soaps, shaving creams, even multivitamins, it appears as glyceryl stearate or glycol distearate (chemical compounds of glyceryl/glycol and stearin).

Naturally occurring in animal and vegetable fats, stearic acid comes from various sources: Peruvian, Scandinavian, or Japanese fish oils; tallow; palm stearin, which is derived from tropical coconuts and natural palm nuts.

The white crystalline substance comes in different solid or granular forms. Buy it as flakes, or a white powder, to dissolve more easily.

How to Use Stearic Acid in Candle Making

How much stearic acid do you use in candles? 10 percent - so, you'll need 1.77 oz. stearin, per pound of paraffin wax. Working in kilograms? Add 100 grams of stearin to 900 grams of candle wax.

1. Firstly, melt the stearic acid safely in a double-boiler on the stove, or in a separate wax melting pot. Colouring your candles? Mix the dye/s in gradually, little bits at a time.
2. Drip drops of this liquid stearin onto a plate, or the base of an overturned cup. Leave to set, and check the colour.
3. Happy with the shade and intensity? Add the paraffin wax to the stearin. Stir now and again, while heating the mixture to the required pouring temperature.

Tip: stearic acid's not good for latex moulds, (it rots the rubber). Adding Vybar instead, prolongs the life of these flexible moulds.

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Why use Stearin in Candles?

Using stearin in candles vastly improves their appearance and burning properties. Stearin wax plays an essential part in many candle making processes. It produces the longest burning pillar candles, and high quality floating and votive candles. See the benefits of this additive listed below:

  • Easier mould release. Stearin increases shrinkage in candle waxes. The set candle pulls away from the sides of the mould slightly, and comes out more easily.

  • Intense colour. The ideal combination of 1 part stearin to 9 parts paraffin wax produces candles with vibrant colours. No more muddy pinks and lilacs for you, you'll produce brightly colored candles, and pure pastel shades. Don't add too much - a ratio of 1:4 produces startlingly vivid tones, but might give the wax a soapy appearance.

  • Slower-burning candles. Stearin increases the melting point of paraffin wax to 80°C (176°F). Stearine candles burn longer, with steady, unwavering flames.

  • Less drips and smoking. Candles made from stearic acid are virtually dripless. They burn with smaller, neater flames, emitting less trails of smoke. You'll spend less time cleaning waxy messes off your cloths and tables. And best of all?'ll be spared the damage of candle soot on walls and ceilings.

  • Harder candles. Stearin candles survive hot weather - they keep their shapes, without melting and bending.

So, there's your secret to successful candles. Mixing stearin into your waxes has many advantages. This valuable ingredient is a powerful weapon in your candle making arsenal!

Take Note: I have only combined stearin with paraffin waxes, and have no idea what stearin does, or how it acts, when mixed into other types of waxes.

Reference materials:

Candles, by Jon Newman. This informative book contains extensive references to stearin, and contains various historical facts; definitions and characteristics of; the composition of; the uses of stearine in candle making; and where it's sourced from.

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