How We Make Our Candles

pouring melted wax into jars

We pour all of our candles by hand. I should say, Jessica pours all of our candles by hand. She's the resident alchemist of the house, and she's learned to navigate the finicky science of soy candle-making. It takes a lot of patience and precision... which is why she's doing it.

She starts with 100% soy wax. It comes in flake form, and it feels like soap to the touch. It's much softer than typical wax melts or candle sticks; in fact, you can't make a candle stick out of soy wax, because it won't keep its shape. It needs to be poured in a container.

rolled soy wax flakes

Soy wax is also more complicated to work with than paraffin, because it's very sensitive to temperature. Jessica melts the wax flakes down in a double-boiler, and has to watch the temperature carefully. The fragrance needs to be added at just the right temperature. Too cold, and the oil won't mix completely with the wax. Too hot, and the fragrance oils will evaporate and leave you with a less fragrant candle.

heating wax on the stove

She also needs to pour at just the right temperature. If you pour when the wax is too cool, the top of the candle looks crackled and pitted. It burns fine, but it's a little unsightly. If you pour when the wax is too hot, the top looks beautiful, but the candle pulls away from the side of the jar, leaving great big air bubbles. She's actually started doing double pours: pour most of the candle when the wax is cooler, then after 8 hours or so pour a quarter inch of hotter wax on the top. That way you get nice adhesion on the sides of the jar, but a remarkably smooth top.

poured candles left to cool

We do lots of testing with fragrances. We've had quite a few ideas we thought would be winners (hearth-roasted apples) that ended up just not working (smelled like soot). We try to limit the number of fragrances we create because we'd rather do a few fragrances well than do a lot of fragrances poorly.

After about 24 hours, the candles cool fully, and we can label them and get them ready for packaging.

finished thoughtful gardner candle

We put just as much thought into packaging our candles as we do making them. There's a front label and a back label. On the front is the name of the fragrance with a colorful mark (designed by yours truly) to make it easier to identify at a glance, and on the back is our pencil and spade logo, signifying hard work and thoughtfulness.

candles on a shelf

We find such enormous joy putting together beautiful things like these candles. We hope they bring you joy as well!

P.S. There's more info about our candles here.

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