Anyone who has followed my candle-making journey knows I am passionate about my family and friends, my beautiful dogs, my community, and of course, my love of all things candle related!
An emotional creature, colour plays a big part in my life. I choose the colour carefully because I know it can dramatically affect my mood, feelings, and emotions. I see it as a powerful communication tool that we use every day to signal action, influence mood and cause physiological reactions.
Of course, feelings about colour can be deeply personal, and they are often rooted in one’s own experience or culture; but for me, I love sunset colours. Because out of all the colours, these colours make me ‘feel good’, they lift my spirit, my vibration, and leave me feeling positive.
When I see a brilliant sunrise or sunset I am overwhelmed by its magnificence, its ethereal beauty, and I feel a sense of belonging to the Universe. I draw emotional energy from the stunning colours, and so I love to surround myself with these colours when I can.
I talk about the psychology of colour in my blog: “An Eye for Colour”. However, in this blog I want to talk more about how you can choose, and use colour, to make your candle products more visually appealing to customers.
I don’t know about you, but its definitely a turn-off when I see a row of candles, with the colour varying candle to candle, especially if I want to feature multiple candles as part of my home décor.
As a candle maker, the easiest way to fix colour variation is to pour in large batches. Increasing batch size makes it easier to measure dye accurately. Purchasing high-quality measuring tools and precisely recording dye quantities generally guarantees a consistent and uniform batch colour.
As a candle manufacturer and retail shop owner, I wanted my candle collections to be consistent and uniform in colour, batch after batch, but I didn’t always want to make up large batches.
To remedy this, I used a simple technique to ensure my colours matched batch after batch. After adding a little dye to the melted wax, I would place a drop or two onto a white plate. The wax set within seconds, and I was then able to assess whether additional dye was required.
When I achieved the desired wax colour, I placed a few drops onto a white sheet and covered the wax with sticky tape. I kept this in my files for future reference, along with other candle-related information, such as scent blend ratios etc.
If you are not concerned about colour consistently, let your customers know in advance. For online sales, tell customers they should take into consideration that monitor settings and colour preferences might not show the exact same colour as the actual products OR add a disclaimer that your candles are individually handcrafted and there may be slight variations of colour.
Customer satisfaction is the key to any thriving business, and having a customer complain about poor colour is a sure-fire way to hurt your ratings.
Now let's look at some of the ways you can colour candles.
Type of Dyes
NATURAL dyes come in powder form, a liquid form, chips, and flakes.
OIL SOLUBLE dyes easily mix with waxes, but pigments can be difficult to dissolve. Pigments do add richness and colour depth, but they are not easily soluble. Colourants that are not dissolved often cause speckles, fading, bleeding, and wick clogging.
It’s handy knowing a little about primary and secondary colours. Rather than buying pre-made colours, why not just bulk buy primary colours and make up your own unique colour finishes. Never be afraid to experiment, have some fun testing!
How To Make Natural Colours
Because I love natural, I want to include ways you can make up natural candle colours. You can place the natural ingredients below into a coffee filter sachet, a cheesecloth bag, or infuse directly into the melted wax. Candles made with all-natural ingredients are known as aromatherapy candles.
Customers who have allergies or smell sensitivities, or who prefer an environmentally friendly candle are known to appreciate the therapeutic benefits (and the reduced exposure to potentially harmful ingredients).
Spices are a bit of a two-in-one ingredient because using them for their natural dye will not only create beautiful colours but can add a subtle scent to the candle as well. Ground spices in the form of powders will help produce pigments, such as orange colours for turmeric and sassafras.
Herbs were the original synthetic dyes, and when herbs are heated in oil, you can extract their colours and add them to the hot wax. Herbal dyes can produce a light and summery yellow colour with wild celery, a deep and elegant purple with sunflower seeds, vibrant orange with ground lichen, and beautiful blue colours with elderberries. You can also create passionate red colours with dandelions and St. John’s Wort.
My favourite is herbal teas, they combine colour and scent in just a single tea bag infused into the wax.
Because lots of flower petals contain natural dyes, you can add them into your hot wax to yield a variety of different textures and coloured dyes. To make brown colours, you can use coneflower and goldenrod. For red colours, you can use dried hibiscus flowers, roses and lavender for pink colours, and cornflower and hyacinth for blue colours.
Quite amazingly, you can create green colours with snapdragons and foxglove, reddish-purple colours with daylilies and safflowers, and peach hues with Virginia creepers.
Because you can easily see and almost predict the kind of colour that a flower might produce, you can go ahead and play with these hues on your own and see where the colours take you!
Fruits, Nuts, and Vegetables
You can use mashed fruit to create beautiful and lively colours in candles. Blueberries contain natural dyes (hence the finger stains when you’re deliciously munching on them to your heart’s delight), you can use artichokes for green colours and huckleberries for purple/reddish hues.
For instance, you can use cherries, strawberries, and raspberries for pink shades, and blackberries and elderberries for the purple and blue hues. You can even use beetroot to create dark brown colours and onion skins for orange.
Other Colour Source Ideas
Extracting Natural Colours from Plants, Seeds, and Flowers
Take note though that some flowers, herbs, and botanicals can clog your wick when you add them to candles for that much-needed colour. To solve that clogging issue, use one of the many simple oil infusion techniques found on the internet.
Place some of your soy wax or natural wax in a double boiler. Melt it, then place the herbs in a tea bag or coffee filter that’s heat sealable, and tie the bag with a string. Afterwards, put the herbal bag or filter into your pot of wax. Keep steeping over low heat, and eventually, you will see that the colour of your herb will begin to tint the wax (this can actually take a few hours, so just be patient—anything worth the while takes time!).
If you want, you can also place the wax and herbs in a bowl, and set this bowl in a crock-pot or double boiler, keeping the temperature low. When it’s done, you can add this tinted wax to your candle mixture, and you’ll get the colours (and maybe scents) you desire!
A Word of Caution
When using natural ingredients you must strain out the plant parts of the herb before you go ahead and add to your wax. If you do not remove, the raw ingredients will eventually go mouldy in the candle.