Liquid candle dye is a highly concentrated colorant that can be mixed with soy wax, coconut wax, paraffin wax, gel wax, and beeswax. This type of liquid dye is formulated to mix with oil-based materials, making it the perfect colorant for candle wax. To use liquid dye, you simply add a few drops to your melted wax and stir it in. Below, learn everything you need to know about using liquid dye so you can start making beautiful, colorful candles today!
What is liquid candle dye?
Liquid dye for candles is a type of colorant that you use to make tinted candle wax. It can be made from a variety of ingredients, including plants, minerals, clays, oxides, and synthetic ingredients. The best candle dyes use at least some synthetic ingredients because these produce stable and consistent colors.
There are numerous types of liquid candle dyes available, but they’re not all the same.
When shopping for candle dye, be sure to look for options that are paraben-free and phthalate-free. It’s also important to consider that some candle dyes have a strong chemical smell, while others do not. You ideally want a dye that has a mild odor that won’t affect how your candles smell. Furthermore, a good candle dye should be virtually free from insoluble materials, meaning that it doesn’t contain specks of debris or colorant that will be noticeable in your candles.
If you’re looking for dyes that meet all these criteria, NorthWood has you covered! We have a full range of 20 REACH-compliant liquid dye colors to choose from.
How does liquid candle dye work?
A lot of people use the words “dye” and “pigment” interchangeably. However, dye technically refers to a substance that dissolves in its host material, whereas pigments do not. Pigments such as mica may disperse and blend with wax, but they do not dissolve like dye does.
Candle dye is soluble in wax, meaning that it blends fully. This is true whether you are using liquid dye or candle dye chips. Candle dye is also combustible, meaning that it melts and evaporates with the wax when your candle is lit. This is why candle dyes work so effectively. If dyes didn’t dissolve in wax and evaporate, they would leave behind a residue that clogs the wick or remains in the container.
This is why we recommend avoiding pigments like mica in candles. Some people do achieve good results using powdered pigments in candles. However, pigments will never perform as good as candle dyes because they aren’t soluble or combustible in wax.
How to Mix Liquid Dye with Candle Wax
Adding liquid dye to wax is easy. All you need to do is use a pipette or dropper to dispense the dye into your melted wax. Our 1 oz liquid dyes come with a dropper in the lid!
Follow these simple steps to add dye:
- Melt your wax in a double boiler or electric wax melting pot. Ensure wax is fully melted, with no pieces of hard wax left.
- Most people add dye when the wax has reached a temperature of at least 185 degrees F. However, we have found that the dye mixes successfully at any temperature, provided that the wax is fully melted.
- Use a dropper to add drops of liquid dye to the wax. The amount of dye you need will depend on how much wax you’re using, as well as the type of wax (see next section).
- Stir gently with a spatula or whisk until the dye is fully incorporated. Stir along the sides and bottom of the container to ensure even mixing.
- If using fragrance oils, you can add them after mixing in the dye. Let the wax get to the proper temperature for adding fragrances (generally 185 for soy wax and 200+ for coconut blends). Your wax is now ready to pour!
How much liquid candle dye do I need?
The amount of dye you need depends on the kind of wax and the amount of wax you are using. Keep these general rules in mind for different types of wax:
- Paraffin wax tends to need the least amount of dye. You will get bright, vibrant colors with just a little dye.
- Coconut wax needs more dye than pure paraffin to achieve the same level of vibrancy. You can still get very nice, bold colors by using enough dye.
- Soy wax requires the most dye to give you bright colors. Soy wax will always produce more pastel shades than you would get in coconut or paraffin wax, regardless of the amount of dye you use.
Recommended Amounts for Liquid Candle Dye
When calculating how much liquid dye to use, start by figuring out how much wax you are melting and decide how dark you want your wax to be.
- For a light shade, you need about 1-3 drops of liquid dye per pound of wax.
- For a medium shade, you need about 3-5 drops of liquid dye per pound of wax.
- For a darker shade, you need about 5-8 drops of liquid dye per pound of wax.
Always start with a small amount and work your way up if you decide you want a darker color. See the section below for tips on testing your color intensity.
Tip: If you are making a large batch of wax, you might want to measure in grams rather than drops. This will be easier to measure and will give you more consistent results.
How to Test Wax Colors
When adding liquid dye to candle wax, you will notice that the color often looks much darker in liquid wax. It can be hard to tell what the final result will be, especially if your melting pot is a dark color too. However, there’s an easy way to tell what your final color will turn out like. Simply stir your wax with a spatula or whisk, then drip some of the colored wax onto a white piece of paper. The drips will cool quickly, giving you a better idea of your end result.
Can you get dark colors with liquid candle dye?
Some colors of candle dye are intended to produce darker shades than others. If you’re looking to create an intense hue, it will be easier to start with a color that’s naturally darker. For example, you can get richer colors with burgundy, blue, black, and purple shades. It’s more difficult to get rich colors with yellow, pink, ivory, and other shades that are intended to be light in color.
In any case, you want to avoid adding too much dye, as it can affect how your candle burns. Adding more than the recommended amount of dye can potentially clog your candle wicks, leading to a weak flame and tunneling.
Do liquid candle dyes cause frosting in soy wax?
If you’re using soy wax, you probably know that it develops “frosting” when color is added. Candle frosting is the appearance of white film that develops on your wax. It’s called frosting because it looks the same as frost on a window. Unfortunately, soy wax frosting is natural and unavoidable whether you’re using liquid candle dye or dye chips.
Frosting tends to occur mostly in 100% soy wax. However, it can also happen in wax blends that are heavy in soy. We have not experienced frosting when adding colorants to our EC-26, Ceda Serica, or CB-2 waxes.
Can I use liquid candle dye for other projects?
Liquid candle dyes can be used in a variety of oil-based formulas and other craft projects. It works great for these projects:
- Wax melts – add a few drops to our C55 wax the same way you would for colorful candles.
- Colorful reed diffuser oil – add a drop or two to our Reed Diffuser Base to create colorful diffusers. Colors are very concentrated, so you only need a tiny amount!
- Tinted aroma beads – add a few drops to your aroma beads to make colorful car freshies. Liquid dye can be used along with mica and other powdered colorants to get different effects.
- Resin crafts - Add a very small amount of liquid dye to your resin projects. Because resin is clear, you need a tiny amount of dye to tint your project. When working with a small amount of resin, use a toothpick or other similar tool to add dye until you reach your desired shade. For larger projects, using the liquid dye dropper may be better.
Liquid candle dye is not made of skin-safe ingredients, so you shouldn’t use it as colorant for soap, bath bombs, lotion, or other skin products. Instead, we recommend using our mica powders.
How to Use Candle Dye – a detailed guide to using different kinds of candle colorants
How to Make Your First Candle – full of great tips for getting started in candle making
What additives are safe to use in candles? – an article chock-full of information on additives