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.
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.
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.
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.
We put just as much thought into packaging our candles as we do making them. There’s a front label and a back label, and both are letter-pressed on Strathmore Ultimate White Writing Wove. On the front is the name of the fragrance, hand-written by yours truly, and on the back is our pencil and spade logo, signifying hard work and thoughtfulness.
We find such enormous joy putting together beautiful things like these candles. We hope they bring you joy as well!