Whether you’re making candles for sale or simply making candles for your friends and family, it’s important to test your candles. Making tester candles takes some trial and error, but it is a crucial part of the candle making process.
Not only does testing give you peace of mind knowing you’re selling a safe product, it also helps you protect your business reputation. With proper testing, you’ll feel confident that your products perform as they should.
Want to stay more organized as you test candles? Download our free printable candle testing note sheet! This handy sheet has all the information you need to keep track of every test candle you make.
What does it mean to test candles?
The point of testing candles is to make sure that your candles burn safely, perform well over their lifespan and – of course – smell amazing! Testing candles is as simple as making a candle, then burning it and taking notes on its performance.
During the testing phase, your goal is to determine whether the candle is wicked correctly. A candle is properly wicked if it meets all of these criteria:
- The flame is approximately 1” tall.
- The flame burns smoothly without excessive flickering.
- The wax is able to melt across the entire surface of the container.
- When fully melted, the melt pool is between ¼” and ¾” deep.
- The temperature of your container is not excessively hot.
- The flame does not produce soot or smoke.
- As the candle burns, it does not leave excess wax clinging to the sides of the container.
Check out our blog on choosing a compatible wick for your wax for more detailed information on proper wicking, as well as important notes on wicking coconut wax candles. If you are new to making candles, we highly recommend reading this post.
How many test candles do I need to make?
In the testing phase, you will likely need to make several different candles to determine the ideal fragrance load, wick type, wick size and wax type. If you read our blog on choosing wax and wicks, you will also know that the type of container you use plays an important role in how your candles perform.
Need help picking a wick? Use our handy Candle Wick Chart to help select a size!
Ideally, individual candle tests should be done for each wax, wick, container, fragrance type and fragrance load you want to use. If you change any of one these factors, it’s wise to redo your testing to ensure you still get good results.
When testing, you will probably need to make small adjustments to your process until you get the results you’re looking for. You might get lucky on your first pour, but most candle makers need to make several tester candles until they get ideal results.
How to Make Tester Candles Step-By-Step
Now that you know why test candles are so important, it’s time to dive into the testing phase! To create tester candles, follow these basic steps:
- Select the same wax, fragrance and container you ultimately plan on using for your candle line.
- Prepare a container with a wick that is appropriate for the jar size.
- Label the jar with notes about the fragrance used, the fragrance load, the wax used and the size of wick. This will help you keep track of your results.
- Prepare candle wax/fragrance in a melting pot, then pour your tester. It’s helpful to follow the exact same process (including the temp you add the fragrance and the temp you pour at) so that you can repeat your results accurately.
- Let the candle cure for at least 24 hours. For the most accurate results, it is recommended that you let your candles cure for 2 weeks.
- Gather your testing supplies. It’s helpful to have a thermometer and a timer. Have a notebook or device handy for jotting down notes about your results.
- Light your tester candle, then start a timer so you can keep track of your candle’s progress over time.
- Make note of the container temperature, melt pool size, melt pool depth, flame height, scent throw and any other relevant factors. For the most accurate comparison, jot these observations down at regular intervals (for example, once every hour).
- Let the candle burn for 2-4 hours, then extinguish it.
- If your candle appears to be burning well with the wick you chose, complete additional burns to determine how the candle will perform over its life. Be sure to let the candle completely cool before starting a new burning session.
- If you do not get the results you're looking for, make additional tester candles with different sizes of wicks. Repeat the above steps with each candle, then compare your results.
How to Get Consistent Results When Testing Candles
To ensure you get reliable results, try to repeat every aspect of the test under the same conditions. For example, make sure to burn your candles in the same location and keep the ambient temperature the same. Changes to the environment can affect how your tester candles perform. If you are burning multiple tester candles at once, make sure they are far enough away from one another that the heat they produce does not affect the results of your other test candles.
If you aren’t happy with any of the wicks you’ve tested, don’t give up. You may find that you simply need a different type of wick. You can repeat these steps with as many wicks as necessary until you find the ideal combination.
When you get the results you were looking for, be sure to take detailed notes about your entire process, Remember that if you decide to change any of the factors (fragrance, wax, jar, wick), it’s smart to do another round of testing.
Time Saving Tip: If you don’t know where to begin with your wick size, you may find it works to pour your wax into the jar without a wick. Once it sets up, poke a hole in the center with a small tool that is roughly the same width as your wick. You can then insert a wick into the wax (without the wick tab) and light it. If the wick doesn’t perform well, simply pull it out and try again with a different size.
Once you find a wick that produces an ideal flame, melt pool and container temp, it’s helpful to do another “official” test with that size of wick, in which you pour a candle following the same process you would when producing your candles for sale. Burn this “official” tester candle to be fully confident in your results.