Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Soap Bone is Connected to the Candle Bone

Neroli & Rose
Really...this whole soaping thing started with candles. I've always loved them, a few years back stumbled serendipitously upon a luxury candle website and uncharacteristically spent $30 something on a sensuously delicious sounding candle by Acquiesse...Pomegranate and Sage. Within 5 minutes of burning that candle I was hooked on the world of scent. Had I never bought that candle, I believe I never would have become a soap maker as this unleashed an unquenchable thirst for complex scents. I believe many soap makers had their start with this gateway drug.

I had to cut back on my candle habit when I started soap making and that wasn't so bad since my soaps satisfied my voracious olfactory appetite. Last fall, my husband and I celebrated our second second anniversary. (Yes, I married the same guy, twice) down at Glen Laurel Inn in Hocking Hills Ohio. We remarried there and vowed to return every year on our anniversary. Now, this is a snazzy place--no kids allowed, private hot tubs (ooh-la-la!) so many other anniversary couples have the same idea. It's so weird seeing the same couples year after year.

 Enter Sue and Donny. My husband and I adore them...we hang out before dinner and catch up the year. I really wanted Sue to try my soap. I gave them both a bar. Like many people, they thought they were stunning, but having never used natural homemade soap, obvious to the joys within. Sue asked me if I made candles. "No, I said, but I certainly love them!" She got this wide-eyed glassy look and went on to explain that she and Donny have a signature scent they light in the cabins, but of course, it's been discontinued. Always up to a good challenge, I said, "What is it? I can try to make one for you?" I hard can candles be? She went back to her cabin and brought me near spent remains of a yellowish candle. "It's Neroli and Rose....I took a big sniff and whoa...was this strong. I've never smelled this particular combination. If you're unaware, Neroli essential oil comes from the squeezings of orange blossoms. It's crazy expensive...requiring 100 pounds of orange blossoms to make one pound of oil--too cost prohibitive for soap or candles...but there are good FO dupes. Neroli is a strange scent to explain. If you're familiar with Petitgrain, it's similar but from the greenish bits and twigs of the same tree. I've used it a few times in soap...most either love it or hate it...a little goes a long way and better when blended.

I've been working on Sue's candle now for over a month. At first I tried soy with the recommended amount of fragrance oil. It turned out lovely, but had to get right on top of the candle to smell it. In candle techie terms, it had a weak hot throw. I tried again, increasing the FO to the maximum allowed. Still weak throw. She wanted it to scent a room. After much research, I realized soy isn't the best wax for heavily scented candles. More research...decided on a soy/paraffin blend called IGI 6006 known to encompass the best of both worlds..paraffin for excellent scent throw and soy for clean burning. But wouldn't you know my wicks were all wrong.....strong smelling candle if you could discern it through the heavy soot. wax means new wick. After 4 attempts, I finally have it right...I'll be sending Sue test candle number 4 today. Sue has also become a dedicated user of my soaps. She's one of my best customers. I have a new respect for candle makers. Just like soap making, its science and art. Thanks to Sue, I'm hooked on candle making and will be adding those to my product line because....the soap bone is connected to the candle bone.


  1. How cool, Cindy! I've always loved candles, too, and soapmaking got me into candlemaking. I'm still new to making candles and don't do anything too fancy. Picking the right wick seems to be the most challenging part of candlemaking. I found a wick that works well with my soy wax and container size, so I plan to just stick with them forever, lol. Sounds like you put a lot of love and effort into your candles. They will be a wonderful addition to your product line!

  2. It is amazing how one scented craft leads into another! Candle making sounds challenging with all of the wick and wax choices, but challenges are a good thing! :)

  3. A lot of soapers seem to transition to candles eventually. I try them every once in a while until I get frustrated, then I happily return to soaps and bath products. Maybe I'll get the hang of it eventually. Good for you for figuring that candle out and hopefully it's a sign of continued success!