What Is the Dye in a Colored Candle Made Of?

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All you truly need to make a candle is a fuel (usually wax) and a wick that can be lit. However, most people like to add scents and colors to make the candles prettier for use in the home. Candle dye come in multiple forms, and are made with made different ingredients. If you're interesting in making candles, learn about the different colorants available and how to best use them.

History

Candles have been made for thousands of years. Some of the first candles were made using beeswax, whale fat, and oil from seeds or fish. These early candles were typically utilitarian, so were not colored for aesthetics. Rather, the color of the candle can from the substance being used. As people began to use candles for decorating, dyes were developed as a form of coloring the candles. Some manufacturers also use pigment.

Types

There are two types of dyes used to make candles - liquid and powder. Most candle dye companies also sell dye in the form of chips. Liquid and power dyes are about the same in the quality of color they produce. Dye chips, on the other hand, may look slightly more diluted. Dye chips are essentially tiny piece of wax containing a high amount of color, but because there is wax in this form of dye, the color isn't quite as effective.

Identification

Candle dye may come in multiple forms, but what is it made of? Most synthetic dyes today are aniline, and since they aren't rated by the FDA, manufacturers don't have to release their list of ingredients. Chemical ingredients are typically used to create the colors. Some manufacturers use natural or even organic ingredients instead. Herbs, spices, and flowers can all be used to create dyes.

Benefits

Using dye as a colorant for candles is better than using pigments for a number of reasons. First, with dye, you can mix the color right into the wax, gel, or whatever you're using for the candle's fuel. This is possible because dyes are combustible, which means that they burn. Pigments are not and can only be used as a paint. Otherwise, the color will clog the wick and the candle will not burn. Another benefit of using dye is that you have great control over the final color. Dyes can be mixed and added in any concentration to provide the perfect shade. Lastly, dyes do not have a huge effect on the burning performance of the candle. Other colorants can cause smoke or a change in burn time.

Warning

When using dyes, be careful when you are handling them. Because most dyes are made from synthetic products, they can stain skin, cloth, and other materials. In addition to staining, some people have allergic reactions to some of the ingredients in the dye. Wearing protective clothing, like gloves, can keep you safe and makes clean-up easy.

When using candle dyes, also be aware that the make-up of your candle will change slightly. Although dyes typically do not change the candle much, there can be slight differences because colors. This is most important to keep in mind if you are making candles with a layered effect.

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