Candles: made by compression vs. pouring?

Can anyone tell me why some storebought candles look like they’re made out of beads?

I assume they are pressed together instead of being poured … is that a cheaper process?
Does it indicate a certain kind of wax?

Tealight candles are typically made from compressed granules - so they can be made very fast on a production line (there’s no cooling cycle before they are demoulded)

Probably the same is true of some other candles - particularly those for utility rather than decorative purposes.

BTW, there are a couple of other methods (at least) for making candles besides pouring and dry compression.

Dipped candles are made by repeatedly dipping a straight wick in molten wax and pulling it out, allowing a new layer of wax to set on the outside (I believe this was once the most common way to make candles)

Rolled candles are made from besswax which has been pressed into a thin flexible sheet - it is rolled up around the wick like a swiss roll. I think this is a fairly modern method.

I have made dipped, rolled, and poured candles. Playing with wax is fun. :slight_smile:

I place a rapid protoyped form in a vacuum chamber and vapor deposit wax on it which I vaporize with an argon laser powered by a small solar array which tracks the sun using microelectronics to drive linear motors on Teflon coated titanium tracks. I believe it is a modern method.



Yeah, traditionally the titanium tracks would be lubricated with powdered graphite, instead of Teflon. It makes a big difference.

(and now I’m wondering whether mixdenny has literally made candles that way)

The bead-y candles may be a post production type to use up leavings. WAG.

Here you go, Chronos:

Gotcha - it’s not for making candles. It is, however, really one of my inventions (a world’s first as far as I know) in my garage. Looks like it was 95% complete when I took this photo. It works astonishingly well, I made over $5000 selling the product it produces and the raw materials are usually free. Alas, I decided the market was too thin to go any further in development so this prototype was it.

I built this about 5 years ago and finally dismantled it and started throwing it away just this month. I did keep the parts that were difficult to make, I just can’t bear to throw them out. Including the controller mounted in a beautiful stainless steel NEMA 6 rated cabinet. Although I didn’t maintain the seals so it would probably downrate to a NEMA 5.


The major market for those sheets is actually for beekeepers, known as ‘foundation’, the sheets are fixed in frames in movable frame hives- otherwise bees sometimes decide to build comb out sideways, meaning you can’t get the damn frame out. If there’s already a thin wax sheet however, especially with hexagons already marked on, they’ll pretty reliably build using that as a base. You can even get foundation with slightly larger hexagons for when you want the bees to build drone (male) comb, which is a little larger.

I would expect the use as rolled candles dates back to shortly after that concept started being used, because you tend to wind up with odd spare sheets (some genius decided that foundation should always be sold in packs of 10, even if the hives take 12 frames), and there’s not a lot else you can do with the stuff.

Beeswax has a huge variety of uses, from high quality furniture polish to lip balm.

101 Uses for BeesWax

Every year at the Topsfield Fair* there’s a beekeeper pavilion, and every year they have a station where kids can make rolled-up candles using the hexagonal sheets you describe. They take two triangular-cut sheets (usually different colors), place a wick along one edge, and roll them up.
I’ve made candles from a variety of materials. One thing people don’t appreciate is that the 19th century, besides being the century that invented the arc lamp and the incandescent lamp, is also the century that invented the Modern Candle – stearin (which is added to a lot of other candle materials) was first isolated and used for candles then, and so was paraffin. Prior to that, candles were made from beeswax (a lot of work), or bayberry (a LOT of work), or animal fat (not anywhere near as much work, but it was an ugly, smelly, smoky candle. My grandmother had one of these when I was a kid.). Standardized, clean stearin or paraffin were a real breakthrough. (There was also spermaceti, from sperm whales, which were highly prized as very bright, clean sources of light. But they were expensive, and the whale trade was already in decline by then.)
*This year was the 200th anniversary!

Beeswax does have a lot of uses, but foundation’s very thin, so you don’t get much at all if you melt it down. Plus if you keep bees, you end up with spare wax hanging around anyway, melting down the stuff you just bought (or pressed into foundation yourself, which is a lot of work) seems like a waste. You want to find a use for it as is, and rolling candles is about all you can do without melting it.

I used to run the candle rolling table for my old beekeeping club at our local show, we only did the natural colour ones though.

As I’ve been told often enough, it’s none of my beeswax.

It’s been around so long that the term has been co-opted into a completely unrelated field.

The waxing and waning of the moon.

Chronos may know what it is, but I don’t. What is it, and what did it make? Was it really solar powered? Or was that merely corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative?

In the sense that I have permission to know, maybe. Well, that, and what I know it is is “really cool”.

Have to disagree. “Waxing” here doesn’t have any connection to wax, the substance.

“Waxing” in reference to the moon ultimately derives from an old Anglo-Saxon word, “weaxan”, a verb meaning “to increase, to grow”. “Weaxan” had cognates with this meaning in other old Germanic languages, and more distantly, in Sanskrit and Greek. Nothing to do with candle-making.

See the entry for “wax” at Etymology On-line:

Another example of the Anglo-Saxon variant of “waxed:” we say (or used to say) that someone who sings the praises of something has waxed rhapsodic in their description. Or one might say that a person who has come to despise the rest of humanity has waxed misanthropic, etc.

Well, I didn’t get a pat little guide like “candles made by compressing are usually made of X substance / a blend consisting of minimum y% of Z / never going to contain A” or similar like I was hoping for … but I did learn a bit about a whole random assortment of things!

In other words, just another day in Doperworld. :slight_smile: