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Posts Tagged ‘candle makers’

Every now and then, we get questions at Country Wickhouse Candles about our “production model,” or the process by which our candles are made.  I’d invite anyone interested in watching our manufacturing process to drop by our megalithic, six-story, 90,000-square-foot factory, but we don’t have one.  True, we are remodeling a studio apartment space above our garage so we can move our operation out of the kitchen and into its own space, but you won’t find a Country Wickhouse factory or plant anywhere in the world.

So what does this mean?  It means exactly what our website claims about Country Wickhouse Candles:  Handmade, hand-poured, all-natural soy candles.  Every candle you order from us has been handled multiple times by an actual human being.  And we can do even better than that—your candle order has been handled by only two people, me or my wife.  Wax is melted, scent is pitched, and dye is added all on the white Whirlpool electric range in our kitchen.  Tins and molds are filled and wicks are pinned on the counter next to the double-basin kitchen sink.  Wax is set and released with the aid of the freezer in our Kenmore side-by-side refrigerator.  All very technical and impersonal, right?  Unfortunately, machines and robots can’t make a handmade, hand-poured, all-natural soy candle intended to leave our country kitchen and live in the warmth of your home, no matter what the container looks like.  We don’t care what Yankee, Party Lite, or Scentsy want you to believe.  It’s impossible to mass produce personality.

In the end, one thing is resoundingly true:  Every Country Wickhouse candle, from the label, to the packaging, to the soy product, is carefully, thoughtfully, and personally created, not in a “production model,” but in our kitchen.

Keep smiling…We are! 

P.S.  We’ll post pictures of our new “factory” for our grand opening.  Our 90,000-square-foot plans had to be cut down to 680 square feet due to budget concerns!

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Interesting and fun facts about candles aren’t exactly the subject of Trivial Pursuit or the evening news, but there are some very intriguing pieces of knowledge associated with the commodity nonetheless.  Seriously.  Just the other day, I was browsing the National Candle Association (NCA) website (yes, there really is such a thing, and at Country Wickhouse Candles, it’s kind of our job to keep abreast of industry news) and I happened across a page full of facts and figures related to candles and the candle industry.  You wouldn’t believe, for instance, how much candles are intertwined with our very existence.  I know, that sounds extreme, but it’s true.  You can check it out for yourself on the very page I read, or you can read on.  For your convenience, which is most important to us, I’ve listed some of these facts below, taken directly from the NCA website (this statement and its corresponding link reflect my best attempt at a citation via a blog article).  Truly, you’ll be amazed.

Did you know…?

  • Candles are used in 7 out of 10 U.S. households.
  • Manufacturer surveys show that 90% of all candles are purchased by women.
  • Candle industry research indicates that the most important factors affecting candle sales are scent, color, cost, and shape.
  • Candles are principally sold in three types of retail outlets:  Specialty or gift shops; department and home décor stores; mass merchandisers (discount stores, drug store chains, grocery stores, etc.).
  • Approximately 35% of candle sales occur during the Christmas/Holiday season. Non-seasonal business accounts for approximately 65% of candle sales.
  • More than 1 billion pounds of wax are used in producing the candles sold each year in the U.S.
  • Consumers are increasingly purchasing candles as a focal point for their home décor, and for aromatherapy-like relaxation and stress reduction.
  • Fragrance is by far the most important characteristic impacting candle purchases today, with three-fourths of candle buyers saying it is “extremely important” or “very important” in their selection of a candle.
  • The majority of U.S. consumers use their candles within a week of purchase.
  • Nine out of ten candle users say they use candles to make a room feel comfortable or cozy.
  • Candle users say they most frequently burn candles in the living room (42%), followed by the kitchen (18%), and the bedroom (13%).
  • Approximately one in five women says they use candles to decorate the yard, patio, or other exterior areas, as well as the interior of their home.
  • Both men and women consider candles to be an always-acceptable and highly appreciated gift for a wide variety of occasions.
  • Candle purchasers say they view candles as an appropriate gift for the holidays (76%), as a house warming gift (74%), a hostess/dinner party gift (66%), a thank you (61%), and as adult birthday gifts (58%).

Interesting, huh?  Just when you thought you knew a lot about candles…If these facts and figures have piqued your interest or inspired your warmer side, stop by our candle shop and take a look around.  You can find us on the web here (click the link). 

Thanks for reading!  We hope to see you browsing our soy candle products!

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…You get the idea, and maybe even a vague recollection of the famed (or not so famous) rhyme.  So, my wife makes candles―SOY candles―and good ones, too.  They smell great, are all natural, environmentally friendly, hand-poured, handmade…but we once had a heck of a time trying to figure out the wick-to-wax mystery as we tried to solve what we called the “posthole” or “well-digging” effect.  In other words, some of our candles (mostly the larger tins) were burning straight down the center, leaving about a pound of wax untouched, as if the wick were digging a well or preparing a hole to set a post into the middle of the wax.  Not only was this frustrating us, but also we learned that many folks making soy candles were experiencing the same disappointment.

Back to the drawing board again, and again, and again until at last the code was cracked, which we did over the course of a few months and hundreds of trials.  Why so many attempts?  Because we reevaluated everything, trying not only different types and sizes of wicks, but also various blends and types of soy wax, all the while praying to remember from experiment to experiment what combinations we’d already tried so as NOT to repeat the failure.  (Taking notes throughout each experiment might have been helpful, I know.)  In the end, we solved the problem, and that very solution some might think painfully obvious.  But there is as much science to candle making as there is art, and the process by which one creates a truly fragrant, even-burning soy candle in a tin is not quite as simple as it sounds.  Nevertheless, to make your craft more enjoyable and less frustrating, I’m about to pass on what my wife and I learned while pursuing the aforementioned mystery.

Our first assumed culprit in the “posthole” conspiracy was the wick.  Why not?  Always blame the wick!  Anyway, the more our candles burned straight down the center, the more we figured that the wick was not big enough.  Beginner’s error.  At one point, my wife would have no doubt been willing to stick a piece of towrope into the tins in order to get the wax to melt more evenly.  However…point to consider:  A larger wick does not mean a more even burn, especially when working exclusively with soy.  Soy is a very SOFT wax, and the hotter and stronger a wick burns, the less time the soy wax has to melt.  It’s literally like passing a red-hot knife through butter.  Because of the extreme heat and the added element of a very soft medium, only the immediate point of contact is affected.  There is simply no time for the outer wax to burn.  What we needed instead, was a smaller wick that burned longer at a lower temperature, thus giving the surrounding soy wax a chance to melt.

If you can’t blame the wick (which we kind of did, anyway), blame the wax.  Mostly logical, right?  Well, in this case the wax had a hand in the scandal, too.  We soon discovered that soft wax subjected to high heat burns very fast, a point established already with the wick problem.  SOFT WAX + HOT WICK = WELL-DIGGING CANDLE!  Unacceptable.  And so we realized that we had to “meet in the middle” and more appropriately mate wick to wax.  Luckily for us, soy wax is available with a few different melting points.  Soy wax labeled “125,” for example, melts at about 125° F.  This is very soft soy wax, and unfortunately the only type we thought was available.  Wrong!  Darned beginners!  Looking back now, I’m amazed at how far we’ve come…Second point to consider:  Wax products with low melting points burn very easily, and when matched with a large, hot wick, hardly have a chance to exist.  And now to our happy medium.

Many of you (especially the seasoned candle makers) might be shaking your heads by now, wondering how we ever survived in this business.  But soy is a tricky thing…really.  Our conclusion came slowly, yet it came, and we discovered that the secret to an evenly-burning soy candle in a tin is a matter of a smaller wick and a soy wax with a higher melting point, say 135 – 145° F.  By manipulating the melting point of our wax, and maintaining a medium wick, we could control the size of the wax pool during burning.  We could even get the wax to burn right to the sides of the tin.

In all seriousness, candle making becomes much more of a challenge (especially in the nuances of the craft) when working exclusively with soy.  Many blends are available from pure soy to natural botanical blends.  And each kind may have various melting points.  The trick is patience and the endurance to try and try again.  In the end, you won’t just have a good candle, but a perfect one.

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