I began experimenting with candle-making in July of 2006, after an unpleasant experience with Party-Lite candles. I had paid over $100 for a large amount of votives and a pillar candle, yet it took FIVE weeks to receive my order, not to mention the candles lasted maybe two weeks. All in all, I was a very unhappy customer.
I liked the scents that Party-Lite offered, and had always loved Yankee Candles, yet their prices are outrageous. I was spending $1.59 each for votives at Yankee, and their candles didnt even burn evenly or last very long.
I told my best friend, Beth, that I wanted to try to make my own candles. She informed me of a friend who was experimenting with soy candle making.
What are soy candles? I asked. I had never heard of them but I was intrigued. She went on to tell me about the great qualities of soy. They burn longer, theyre prettier and they burn clean (something I liked because who likes a big mess when trying to clean out a jar or candle holder?). I was curious but hesitant.
So instead, I bought a candle making kit with paraffin wax. It was a terrible experience. The wax came in a huge block and it was very difficult to break apart to put into a melting pot. Even a hammer didnt do a very good job. I had wax all over my kitchen. What a mess!
The melting process took FOREVER, as well. We sat there for 3 hours waiting for the wax to reach the temperature it needed to reach in order to add the color and scent.
Once it was finally ready to pour, we had to sit there for 15 minutes and wait for it to cool before we could add the wicks (this was before I purchased wick pins). The wicks were difficult to center, but that was the least of our problems. After about 30 minutes, the wax caved in. I re-melted the leftover wax in the pot and re-poured to fill in the sinkhole. Yet the next morning, it still looked terrible. They didnt burn all that well, either. They smoked a lot, too.
Never one to give up, I bought some more blocks of wax and kept experimenting throughout the month of July. I had to buy additives, as well, to enhance the color and scent, as well as to keep the wax from caving in. I figured out it took me 3 pours just to get a good-looking candle, a process which took 5 hours a batch! Not worth it let me tell you!
I then started looking around because Id heard of one-pour waxes. I found a site that had this wax, and then noticed the wax was soy wax. I recalled what Beth had told me about soy wax and decided to order a 1 lb bag of it. I also ordered beeswax.
I was so excited when I got the wax! Beth came down and we made our first batch with white tea & ginger scent. It smelled amazing and I couldnt wait to burn it after it cooled.
I hadnt the foggiest notion about wicks back then. I had used a wick that was better suited for paraffin, as soy wax requires larger wicks. Needless to say, they burned okay but not as evenly as I thought they would.
I did a little more research and discovered the problem. I ordered wicks that were made particularly for soy, ordered a 50 lb box of votive wax and tried again. This time, they burned great.
I began to toy with the idea of selling my candles at that point. I was only making votives and tarts at the time, however, and when I listed them on EBay in September, they didnt sell.
People started asking me if I made container candles. I decided to try them. At first, I used votive wax. It worked okay but didnt stick to the sides of the jar. I had no idea what type of wicks to use, either. So I started researching again. At this time I started trying to make tealights with the used cups I had leftover from tealights I had bought at Wal-Mart. I bought wicks that were supposedly perfect for soy tealights, yet they did not generate enough heat and I was disappointed. Then I found the perfect wick! My tealights were burning clean, the scent throw was amazing and they lasted for hours, sometimes more than 7 hours!
In the meantime, I was gaining some experience with container candles through trial and error and decided to see if theyd sell on eBay. I sold my first 8 oz jelly jar candle in September for 33 cents! LOL. Then I had a candle party at the end of September and sold a ton of votives that I had made as samples.
Beth threw me another candle party in October and I sold nearly $200 in candles. My sales on eBay were still pretty much stagnant, but I was starting to sell. I hit a few bumps in the road, such as the wrong sized wicks, trying to figure out how many wicks to use for different container sizes, etcetera.
The holiday season started and I began getting orders left and right on eBay, plus I was selling them to repeat customers.
With the cold setting in outside, I found my votives were no longer burning evenly and asked the lady I buy tealight wicks from if she could recommend a wick size. I purchased several sample sizes and tested each size. I settled on the wick that burned clean and felt triumphant!
In December, Beth told me her 8 oz jars werent burning right and the scent throw was minimal. So again, I experimented and found a better wick.
I still had a problem- what wick to use for 16 oz regular ball jars? I had sold some using two wicks, but soot seemed to be an issue as there was just too much heat.
A very nice lady on eBay, who makes candles herself, sent me some free samples to experiment with, after I explained my difficulties. I tried them out and lo and behold, they worked! I ordered them on eBay, but unfortunately have yet to receive them even though its been over 3 weeks since I ordered them. But I found out that I already have another wick that works, as well. So either way, I can sell candles that look, smell and burn wonderfully!
Now I have a customer base of over 50, half of them are regular customers who swear by my candles. I started working in February, 2007, at a fulltime position, but I am still making candles to supplement my income. I wouldnt have it any other way; I love making these candles and love the wonderful feedback I get on them!
I wanted to add that I tried experimenting with pillar candles, but could not perfect a method. Soy wax is super-soft and is hard to burn without a container or holder.