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Glossary of Candlemaking Terms

By Doneen St.John,
Wisconsin, U.S.A.

Copyright © 1997-Present. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission.

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Any candle that is poured into a container of any type, such as jars, glasses, tins, etc.  Container candles create a large pool of molten wax. Because they "contain" the wax, they are non-messy and very popular.  They are also known for giving off a strong scent, which is due to their melt pools. 


A small candle shaped with a rounded or tapered bottom so it floats in water.  Floaters must be designed to core burn so that the wax stays contained and doesn't run into the water.

Gel Candle

Clear or translucent candles made of candle gel.  Candle gel is a patented material comprised of mineral oil and a polymer resin.


Candle shell mold used for dried flowers & other decorations.  Leaves the center of the mold hollow, to be filled with wax not containing the flowers.  The outside shell doesn't burn so the flowers don't float into the flame.  These can be refilled over and over.  Or you can insert a votive or tea light candle in the shell.

Layered Candles

Pillars or containers that are layered in 2 or more different colors.


Candle lanterns usually made with a votive cup set inside a paper bag full of sand, and used to line a driveway or sidewalk.

Molded / Novelty

These are irregularly-shaped, free standing candles made by molding, sculpting and/or pouring into a shaped mold. Many are made to be burned, and many are used more for decoration and are not meant to be burnt. 

Oil Candle

Glass container filled with liquid paraffin fuel, burned with a fiberglass wick. 


A free standing candle usually round and tall like a cylinder, but can be made in other shapes such as square, hexagon, triangle, star, heart, etc.  These are made in metal, acrylic or latex molds and are meant to be burned on a flat holder.

Sand Candle

Free standing candle with an outer shell made of sand & wax.  Damp sand forms the mold in which hot wax is poured to make this type of candle.

Sculpted Candle

Made from a pliable wax and hand formed to resemble an object or character.


Taper candles are tall, skinny candles that require a special fitting taper candle holder.  They are either made in a mold, or they can be made by the traditional method of dipping a length of wick into hot molten wax. Another method is to roll a sheet of beeswax around a wick, forming a taper. The most common size is 1/2 or 7/8 inch in diameter and either 9 or 12 inches tall.

Tea light

Tea lights are like small votives used to warm pots of potpourri and to heat foods. They fit are poured in small metal or plastic tea light cups and are usually sold in packages of 10 or 12.


These are small pillar shaped candles that are usually about 1½ inch in diameter and 2-3 inches high. They are designed to be burned in a glass votive cup because they are made to completely liquefy when burning, essentially becoming a small container candle.  A candle flame must have a pool of fuel (molten wax) to draw from, so if you burn a votive on a flat holder or a plate, the burning time will be shorter because the candle will loose it's shape and basically become a puddle, drowning out the wick.  The tighter fitting glass cups work best.

Tart / Melt

Small disc of scented wax used to melt in a potpourri or tart burner or melter.  These are usually round 2.5" scalloped and fluted, but can also come in other shapes such as hearts, leaves, stars, etc.



Thin wax shape applied to outer surface of pillar or taper candles for decoration.


A powdery substance that appears on beeswax candles.  Bloom is the result of the oils migrate to the surface of the wax over time.  It can be removed by rubbing with a soft cloth.

Burn Rate

The burn rate is the amount of wax consumed per hour (in grams).  Burn rates are based on testing performed with straight paraffin wax with no other additives. 


Cubes or random pieces of wax used in containers or molds, and then over poured to make chunk candles.

Cold Pour

This is a technique in which you pour the wax at a cooler temp, and sometimes into a chilled metal mold to give it a rustic look as opposed to a smooth finish.

Core Burning

When the melt pool does not reach the edges of the candle and it burns a hole down the center, but leaves a wall of wax around the edges.  This can happen in both container candles and pillars, and is due to improper wicking.

Core Candle

Core means "middle".  Core candle many times refers to plain unscented & uncolored pillar candles used for over-dipping and cut & curl candle making.  A core pillar can also be used when putting embedded objects such as potpourri or sea shells around the outside of a pillar.


Usually refers to cotton wicks with no core material (such as zinc, paper, etc).

Double Boiler

Pan or other metal container placed inside a pot of water.

Essential Oil (aka EO)

Volatile aroma compounds from plants, or plant essence oils.

Flash Point

The lowest temperature at which the vapor of a combustible liquid can be made to ignite momentarily in air.  This relates to both wax and fragrance oils.  For wax it is the temperature that wax would have to reach before it combusts and catches fire.  For fragrance oil it is the temperature the oil would have to be in order to catch fire when coming into contact with a spark or an open flame. 

Fragrance Oil (aka FO)

Combinations of synthetic and natural aroma chemicals blended to create scented oil for use in candles, bath products and other aroma products.


White, chalky marks that appear often on soy candles.  Similar to bloom on beeswax candles.  Frosting is also sometimes used to describe whipped wax on cake candles.


A popular style of primitive candle.  This involves dipping the candles in wax that has been cooled to a lumpy texture and often rolling in spices, coffee grounds and crushed herbs for a "grubby" look.

Jump Lines

These are small horizontal lines that form in the wax as it's being poured into a cold jar or mold.  This can be a result of the wax itself being poured at a cooler temp also.  Some people refer to them as skip lines or chatter marks or stutter marks.

Melt Pool

Refers to the size of the pool of melted wax that forms around the wick of a burning candle.

Melting Point

Refers to the temperature a particular wax reaches when it melts.  Wax comes in several different melting points.

Mold Release

Used to help candles come out of the mold easier.  Comes in a powdered wax additive form or a liquid spray to pre-coat inside of mold.

Mold Sealer

Usually a grey or white putty type material used to spread around the wick on the outside of a pillar mold.  This seals the wick hole so it doesn't leak wax, and keeps water from seeping in if a water bath is used.

Molten Wax

Hot melted liquid wax.


Snowflake type splotches and spots of white or sometimes differing color shades.  Usually caused by high oil content.


Carbon mushrooms form at the top of a candle's wick, caused by incomplete combustion.  This can be caused by the type of wick, and cooler burning additives like petro, crisco & some scented oils.

Over Dip

The process of dipping a finished candle in wax formulated to make the candle have a glossy, shiny finish.

Pouring Temp

This is the temperature at which you pour your wax into your mold or containers.  Pour temp will depend on the type of wax used and the desired effect.


Filling in the cavity where the wax has shrunk to make it level.

Relief Holes

Relief holes are poked in paraffin wax after the first pour.  This releases air bubbles before the 2nd pour or "re-pour" is done.


Usually refers to pillar candles that have a frosty or chalky cold-poured appearance.


Most paraffin waxes will contract once poured and hardened, and shrink away from the sides of the mold or container, as well as shrinking down and leaving a dip in the middle (also referred to as a sink hole or cavity).

Water Bath

Container of cool water to place your hot mold in to help the candle cool and harden.

Wet Spots

Also known as Delamination.  Sections of a glass container candle where the wax pulled away from the glass, making what looks like "wet" spots.  A very common problem with container candles.

Whipped Wax

Regular melted wax, whipped with a fork or beater until frothy or foamy and thick.

Wick Tabs

Small, flat metal discs with hole in the middle for wick.  Used to hold the wick at the bottom of candle.  They are usually round and come in a 15mm and a 20mm size, or some come in a square shape.

Wicking Needle

Long, thin metal poker used to make wick holes in candles.


Clear Crystals

Raises melting point, prolongs burning time and brightens colors.

Color Stabilizer

Inhibits fading from light, and also helps improve the stability of the candle's color and protect it from the effects of heat and fragrance solvents. 


Clear viscous liquid used to coat free standing decorative candles to give them a shiny finish.

Gloss Poly C15

Clear crystals that harden wax & add gloss.  Commonly used in pillar/molded candles.  Average use 1-2% or 1/2 to 1 tsp. per lb. of paraffin wax. 
*Note:  Must melt separately from wax on direct heat, then stir into melted wax.

Luster Crystals

Raises melting point, prolongs burning time, brightens and makes colors opaque (solid, not see thru).

Petro (Petrolatum)

Additive used in container candles to soften wax, lower the melt point and cause a larger melt pool.  Also commonly known as petroleum jelly (Vaseline).
Petrolatum is the wax byproduct of the heaviest lube oil, bright stock. Petrolatum wax consists of a natural mixture of microcrystalline wax and oil. It has good oil-holding capacity that when filtered and blended it becomes mineral jelly. When fully refined it becomes microcrystalline wax.

Micro Wax

Slab form wax with a tacky consistency.  Aids in fragrance retention and adhesion to glass. Recommended use approx. 1 oz. per pound of paraffin in containers.

Mineral Oil (White Oils)

White oils are colorless, odorless, tasteless mixtures of saturated paraffinic and naphthenic hydrocarbons that span a viscosity range of 50-370 SUS at 100F. These nearly chemically inert oils are virtually free of nitrogen, sulfur, oxygen and aromatic hydrocarbons. They are common ingredients in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, plastics, textiles and foods.

Stearic Acid (sterine)

Used in paraffin and vegetable wax candles for hardness, slower burn and opacity.  Commonly used in pillar/molded candles at approx. 3 tbs per pound.  Also used in soaps for hardness, and in lotions as an emollient and thickener.  Typical usage rates are around 1-3%.

Vybar 103

For melt points over 130, pillars & votives.  Reduces air bubbles & mottling, acts as an oil binding agent & makes wax opaque.  Average use is between 1/4 tsp to 1 tsp per pound. Can cause increased shrinkage and rippling.

Vybar 260

For melt points under 130, containers.  Reduces air bubbles & mottling, acts as an oil binding agent & makes wax opaque.  Average use is between 1/4 tsp to 1 tsp per pound.  Can cause increased shrinkage and rippling.

Universal Additive

187 melt point pellets.  Aids in mold release, hardens wax, binds oil to wax, increases opacity and lengthens burn time.  Can be used in all types of candles.  Suggested use is from 1/2 to 1 tsp per pound of wax.

UV Inhibitor

Inhibits color fading from UVA and UVB light by absorbing light.

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