Making your own candles and wax melts is such a rewarding activity. Not only do you have a beautiful product to show off at the end, but there are many ways to extend your skills. Once you’ve mastered melting wax and measuring fragrances, you may want to give your wax creations a bit of glamour. Mica and glitter are two beautiful ways to upgrade your melts, while colour additives elevate candles, especially as we approach the festive season. Welcome to our guide for how to use glitter, mica, and colour in homemade wax melts and candles.
How to use glitter
Glitter and candles don’t mix, not if you want your craft and candle maker insurance to be valid. When glitter and open flames combine, disasters can happen, however unlikely it may seem. The bottom line? Never use glitter when making or using candles. Wax melts, on the other hand, are not subjected to open flames and can be positively encrusted in glitter if you wish them to be.
When using glitter in wax melts, there are a few different options. But before we explore them, it’s important to discuss the nature of glitter, namely, the fact that it is relatively heavy compared to melted wax. Even fine glitter tends to sink to the bottom of hot wax and gather in an unimpressive bundle at the bottom.
This means that, as a rule, you shouldn’t add glitter directly into your melted wax when making melts. Plus, the glimmer and shine of your glitter would be lost within the hardened, opaque wax. The glitter will appear dull (if you can see it at all) when dispersed among a hardened melt, (a rather underwhelming result) until melted in a burner.
Use transparent wax moulds
A fun and easy way to utilise glitter is to simply sprinkle it into your wax melt moulds. This means that when you pour the wax into the moulds, the glitter is held in place. When it’s time to release the melts, the tops will be speckled with light-catching glitter.
A note on glitter
As sparkly and beautiful as it is, glitter can be a bit troublesome depending on what type you choose. Regular glitter from the craft store is generally made from plastic, meaning it will not biodegrade. This becomes a major issue when those tiny particles are washed into the ocean where they are a danger to wildlife.
Plus, when these kinds of glitters are used for cosmetic purposes (face and body glitter, bath bombs, shower gels etc.) they pose a risk to humans, too. Glitter particles have sharp edges that can cause micro-cuts to the skin.
Luckily, there are some excellent glitters on the market that are biodegradable, safe, and gentle when in contact with skin. We use Bioglitter, a vegetable starch glitter product that won’t harm the environment or your skin. Plus, it is non-flammable, a key safety feature when dealing with wax and flames.
How to use mica
Mica is an extremely fine, shimmery pigment that gives an iridescent, glimmery effect, often used in cosmetic products such as eyeshadows for that light-catching appeal. Just like glitter, mica can pose a fire risk and will invalidate insurance. Create your candles with colours and scents by all means, but save the mica for your wax melts.
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as simply stirring mica powder into melted wax as though you are baking a cake. Mica, like glitter, can be tricky in the sense that it can fall to the bottom of the wax and be distributed unevenly. However, dispersing it throughout an entire batch of wax melts is possible, but with a few key steps to ensure success.
Stir it through melted wax...sparingly
Start off with the tiniest pinch to get a feel for the strength and spread of the mica, as they can be extremely potent. For example, our mica powders have a 2g/kg recommendation, which is sparing indeed. Wait for your wax to cool to pouring temperature before stirring in your mica “pinch”, then pour into your awaiting wax moulds.
Note that the joy of using mica in melts is not necessarily how it looks in the set wax. Like with glitter, set wax can dull and reduce the appearance of mica. Instead, the magic is how it looks in the pool of melted wax once the melts are in use. Once your melts are heated, the pool of liquified wax will take on a shimmery swirl thanks to the addition of high-shine mica. A sure crowd-pleaser.
Apply it to the top of cooled and set melts
A fun and effective way to use mica powder is to apply it to your melts once they have been poured and set. This can be as simple as using a small paint or cosmetic brush to dust the pigment onto the surface of the wax. Or, you can create a wet paste with rubbing alcohol which you can then paint patterns or combine colours.
A note on mica
Just like glitter, not all mica products are safe or environmentally and ethically friendly. In fact, mica is a controversial product as natural mica (from minerals) is often sourced via unsafe and unethical child labour. Needless to say, this is a serious and troublesome issue.
The great news is that certain brands have created synthetic mica powders that are exactly the same as natural mica in appearance. They are ethically sourced and safe for contact with skin. Our mica powders are synthetic, safe, ethical, and completely gorgeous.
How to use colour
Now, colouring your wax melt wax is where it gets simple...and versatile (your candles can finally get some love!). It really is as easy as stirring coloured wax chips or dye drops into melted wax. What’s more, it is entirely safe to use in candles! There are tricks and tips to make the process even more successful and aesthetically wonderful...
Liquid dye is incredibly simple to use, with an excellent payoff. It’s important to use proper wax dye, as regular food colouring poses issues. For one, it may be alcohol-based (flammable!), or may simply separate and disperse into your wax as small granules. Liquid dye is customisable in the sense that you can control the strength and depth of colour.
Dye chips are pieces of coloured wax that melts with your candle wax and disperses even, consistent colour. You can adjust the depth of colour simply by adjusting the amount of wax used, or by using a smaller dye chip.
Note that wax and colour additives aren’t a consistent pairing. The depth of colour can be altered by the type of wax you use and if you use any extras. For example, stearin is a wax additive used to create harder candles (for increased durability). Plus it improves the burning quality and performance. But in terms of colour, stearin can make your colours brighter, clearer, and lighter if using pastel colours.
A note on testing colours
Before you make your “official” candles and wax melts, make sure to experiment first. This will help you to find the perfect colour saturation. Have a notepad and pen nearby so you can jot down every combination and measurement you use, and the result it yields. Write down the amount/weight of wax used and the amount of colour (in drops for liquid or chip size for dye chips).