Thursday, August 28, 2014

Easy Layered Candle Tutorial

Here at Voyageur we get a lot of questions about candle making such as what wick to use, what temperatures to pour at, and lots of troubleshooting about negative results.  This easy tutorial is designed to be a guideline for those making candles for the first time or for those wanting more consistent results with their candles.  

Layering in candles is all about temperatures and patience, but it definitely pays off in the end!  This lovely layered look is almost reminiscent of a parfait.  Fun and bright, these colours are eye-catching and the new candle glass jars add a unique look.  Here are the steps we took:

1.  Firstly, have all your supplies pre-measured and organized.  The less you have to focus on running around pulling things together while your wax is melting the less room there is for error.  Have your fragrance or essential oil already weighed out so you don't have to do any guess work, make sure there's lots of cardboard or newsprint under your candle containers, and have all your utensils out and ready.

2.  Start melting!  Calculations of how much wax you need should be done in advance.  Each of these candle glass containers hold 8 oz of wax, which is 240 grams.  For the bottom layer we weighed out 150 grams of the Eco-Soya CB Advanced container candle wax.  This wax is super user-friendly and is good for all candles that are going to be staying inside the container into which you pour them (as opposed to be taken out of a mold, then you'd use the Pillar Blend wax).  Melt your wax in a double boiler until it reaches a temperature of about 155 degrees F.  

3.  When all the flakes are melted, remove the wax from the heat and add your fragrance, which should ideally be pre-measured as well.  We scented these candles at 8% fragrance so for 150 grams of wax you'd need 12 grams of fragrance or essential oil.  Pour the fragrance into the melted wax and mix well, then pour the uncoloured wax into your glass container. Depending on what size your container is you'd want to pour the wax at different temperatures; for example, if you were to make tealights that would lose their heat very quickly you'd want to pour them at a higher temperature of about 150 degrees.  If you're making a candle in a thick glass jar where it will lose its heat quite slowly then you'd want to pour at a lower temperature of about 140 degrees. 

4.  Next is positioning your wick.  We recommend using the HTP 1212 x 3.5" wick for these glass jars.  Stick the wick tab down to the bottom of the jar, then use scotch tape to keep the wick centred, making a # sign with the tape.  This ensure the wick does not move around while cooling which would cause an uneven burn pool. 

5.  Instead of trying to wash your dishes out in the sink causing a waxy mess, try cleaning your bowls and pots with paper towel; this is the best method we've discovered to clean candlemaking supplies as long as the wax is melted.  If it solidifies you can use a heat gun to melt excess wax off your equipment, then use paper towel to finish up. 

6.  The trick to a nice layered candle is making sure that the first layer is set up enough where it won't be disrupted by the second pour.  Sometimes, depending on the thickness of your container and the heat of your environment, this can take quite a long time so we definitely suggest moving onto your next candle while your first starts to solidify.  Because it's summertime and the glass jars are very well insulated it took a couple of hours for the first layer to set up.

7.  Repeat steps 2-4 with the same or varying fragrances. We made 4 candles at one time, then waited for the bottom layer to cool.

8.  When your first candle's bottom layer is totally solid it's time to start the top coloured layer.  Have 90 grams of Eco-Soya CB-Advanced wax pre-measured.  Melt the wax to 155 degrees and add your candle dye chips until it reaches the desired shade.  Remember: the wax will always look darker when in melted form, to see its true colour once solidified dip a spoon into the wax and stick it into the fridge for a couple minutes.  Once all the chips have melted remove the wax from heat and add 9 grams of fragrance oil, stirring well. 

9.  Remove the tape surrounding your wick and allow your hot wax to cool until around 140 degrees, then pour it onto the first layer of the candle.  If the wax is too hot it will melt the first layer and cause bleeding of the colours which is not desirable.  

10.  Repeat steps 8-9 until you've finished all your candles!  Here are some great scent and colour combos that we used:

Watermelon Lemonade:
Watermelon Fragrance Oil
Lemon Fragrance Oil
A combination of Red, Pink, and Orange Candle Dye

Sandy Shores:
Almond Fragrance Oil
Golden Honey Candle Dye

Sweet Summer Night:
Pineapple Mango Fragrance Oil
Peach Blossom Candle Dye
Pink Candle Dye

Cucumber Mojito:
Cool Cucumber Fragrance Oil with a touch of Peppermint Fragrance Oil
Lime Green Candle Dye
Seafoam Candle Dye

Here are some frequent troubleshooting questions that we get:

Why do I get that black carbon build-up on the tip of my wick when burning my candles?

This is called mushrooming, which is a carbon build-up caused by the combination of your wick and fragrance.  EcoSoya CB-Advanced wax is clean burning but the addition of scent and colour affects the combustion process of a candle.  Changing the wick, scent, and dye combination can correct this problem.

What wick should I use?
Wicking depends on many factors.  Generally the goal is to have a burn pool that extends all the way out the the edges of the candle and is 1/4 to 1/2 an inch deep.  Here is a rough guideline on where to start when using EcoSoya CB-Advanced soy wax:

Candle 1 to 2 inches in diameter - RRD 34 or HTP 104
Candle 2 to 3 inches in diameter - RRD 40 or HTP 126
Candle 3 to 4 inches in diameter - RRD 50 or HTP 1212

Keeping in mind that successful wicking also depends on the fragrance and dye used as well. 

Why are there spots on my candle that look like the wax has pulled away from the glass?

These are called wet spots and are affected by cooling temperatures.  If you're finding your candle has wet spots try cooling the candle slower (ie. in front of a fireplace) or faster (ie. in the garage).  The recommended cooling temperatures for candles is 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Why are there bumpy frosted patches on the sides or top of my candle?

Frosting can be attributed to many different variables such as pouring and cooling temperatures and combinations of colour and scent.  Try increasing or decreasing the pouring temperature by 10 degrees, or changing the colour and/or scent.  If the surface of your candle is rough and bumpy you can use a hair dryer or heat gun 5-6 inches away from the candle to polish them up.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Enjoy the Outdoors Naturally!

On the beautiful West Coast of British Columbia we love enjoying all that the outdoors have to offer, but along with the lush, green forests and water ways also come those pesky little insects. And while they may be important food for other animals in our environment, they most certainly see us as a tasty treat! With the warm weather and camping season upon us we've had requests by our customers to share our natural 
Bug Bee Gone Spray and Insect Bite Relief Roll-On, so please enjoy!
Remember that essential oils are powerful, natural ingredients with many therapeutic properties and contraindications. Ensure that you are aware of the contraindications of the oils that you are using and consult with your doctor or a certified aromatherapist if you have health concerns or questions
Natural Bug Bee Gone Spray

Makes One x 2 oz Glass Bottle

This natural body spray is utilizes a range of therapeutic essential oils for their natural insect deterring properties, as well as the cooling and healing effect that they can have on the skin.

You will need:

  8 Drops  Eucalyptus Essential Oil (Globulus or Radiata) 
10 Drops  Lemongrass Essential Oil
  8 Drops   Lavender Essential Oil
  8 Drops   Peppermint Essential Oil
 Optional: 1/2 Tsp.  Polysorbate 20 Emulsifier
1. Fill a 2 oz Blue Glass Bottle with distilled or water, leaving a bit of room at the top.
2. Blend your essential oils together in a small container.
3. If you would like to have your oils disperse throughout the water instead of floating on top, Add about half a teaspoon of Polysorbate 20 to the essential oils, then mix gently.
4. Pour the mixture into the glass bottle with water and shake gently to mix all the ingredients together.    If making this blend for young children, half the amount of essential oil and polysorbate 20 and use the Eucalyptus Radiata species, which is less stimulating.

Bug Bite Relief Roll-On

Makes approx. 10 Roll-On Bottles

These bug bite roll-on's are helpful for soothing itchiness and inflammation as well as aiding to heal the wound of insect bites or stings.

You will need:

   90 ml     Witch Hazel Distillate                         
     2 tsp      Polysorbate 20                                          
  1/2 tsp   Jojoba Oil                            
  3/4 tsp   Tea Tree Essential Oil                                  
  25 drops  Rosemary Essential Oil                               
  25 drops  Lavender Essential Oil                                
1. Measure the Polysorbate, Jojoba Oil, and Essential Oils into a small container, stirring well to combine.
2. Measure your Witch Hazel into a small measuring cup then add the Polysorbate/Oil mixture into the Witch Hazel.
3. Mix gently and pour into Glass Roller-On containers.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Alkanet Faux Column Swirl Cold Process Soap Tutorial

This week is a tutorial for a Cold Process Soap technique called the Faux Column Pour.  It produces a lovely soft swirl or a drastic ringed effect depending on how heavy a trace the soap is at the time of pouring. This technique is not for beginners so we recommend having a few solid batches under your belt before trying it.  We used a simple recipe consisting of a large percentage of liquid oils, this will inhibit the thickening of the soap so you have more working time.   Here is the formula for a 4 lb recipe:
202 grams             Sodium Hydroxide
500 grams        Soft or Distilled Water
500 grams                   Coconut Oil 76
425 grams                      Sunflower Oil
200 grams                             Olive Oil
200 grams                  Palm Kernel Oil
50 grams              Shea Butter Refined
The soaping temperature of this recipe is 120 degrees Celsius.  If you're a little rusty and haven't made soap in a couple years it might be worth it to read the standard CP soap instructions here
As a colourant we used Voyageur's brand new Alkanet Root Powder.  It is widely used within the soapmaking community as a natural botanical colourant that will give you a range of colours from soft grey to lavender to royal blue.  To achieve a deeper jewel tone the alkanet works better if it's infused into an oil first.  It can be added directly to the soap at trace but this could cause some speckling and a gritty texture.  If you're infusing your Alkanet root you need to prepare it before you start making your soap.   We took 60 grams of Alkanet root powder and added it to 200 grams of olive oil.  Let this sit for at least a few days, shaking on a regular basis, and slowly it will turn a beautiful blood red.  If you want to minimize any speckling in the soap you can strain the extract out of the olive oil using a coffee filter or cheesecloth; we chose not to do this and we loved the smooth, even look of the soap!  In this recipe we used 10 grams of the infused oil.
The next step is to line your mold with freezer paper.  Brand spanking new at Voyageur are the long-awaited square or slab style molds in the 4 lb or 10 lb size!  These beautiful, handmade Canadian molds are super sturdy and can be used thousands of times.  They are perfect for cold process, hot process and rebatch soap making.  For a step by step guide on how to line these square molds click here.  
Once your mold is lined prepare your soap station with everything that you'll need to make the soap such as: the oils in the formula, lye, water, measuring cups, a scale, a stick blender, two large bowls/containers to mix the soap in, a spatula, a whisk, gloves, safety goggles, paper towel, your alkanet infusion, your essential oil, and anything else you might need while soaping.  Having to stop mid-soap and grab something you forgot is the worst!  Be sure that you follow the proper safety rules: ensure you're soaping in a well-ventilated area, wear long sleeves, gloves, and safety glasses, have vinegar nearby in case you need to neutralize a lye burn, and make sure there are no pets or children around.  
It's time to start!  Measure out 500 grams of water into a large measuring cup.  Measure out your lye into a smaller cup, ensuring that you're very precise.  

Add your lye into the water slowly, then stir until the lye is totally dissolved.  Remember, lye does emit fumes when mixed with water so be sure to breathe away from the measuring cup you're mixing.  Take it from personal experience, it doesn't feel nice to have lye fumes in your lungs!  Set the lye water aside and let it start to come down in temperature.  If you are super speedy and know that you'll be fast at measuring your oils you can pop the lye water into an ice water bath to help it cool down faster.
Measure out your oils into a large plastic or glass container.  Melt the oils in the microwave or on a double boiler until all the solids have melted.  You want your oils and your lye water to be within 10 degrees of each other, so make sure you're not heating those oils up too hot!  Once the oils and lye water are both somewhere around the 120 degree mark within 10 degrees of each other it's time to mix them together.

Slowly add your lye water into your oils in one fluid motion, then whisk by hand for 15 seconds.  Alternate between using your whisk and your hand mixer for 15 second increments until a light trace stage is reached. 

Add your essential or fragrance oil and whisk well.  We used 50 ml of our super popular Uplifting Blend, a mixture of Lavender, Bergamot, and Sweet Orange essential oils.  This blend is widely used in spas and relaxes the mind while uplifting the spirit!  We thought that it suits the gauzy, dreamy swirl of the faux column method.
Divide the batch up into two (roughly) equal parts.  Take the 10 grams of infused oil and add it into one of the bowls.  Whisk gently until you get an even deep purple colour through the soap. 

Bring both batches to a medium trace through more whisking.  If you want the distinction between the two colours to be more defined bring the soap to a heavier trace.  On the other hand, if you want the swirl to be more feathery and soft keep the soap at a light trace while pouring.  
Slowly start to pour one batch of soap directly into the middle of the mold.  Alternate between the two colours of soap, counting in your head for 3 seconds each time you pour to keep the soap even between the two colours.  Continue to alternate the soap pouring straight into the middle of the mold until no more soap is left.  

We did a quick dreamcatcher swirl on the top of the loaf by taking a dowel or small stick and drawing a loop design starting in the middle of the mold and working your way out to the edges, then coming back to the middle again repeatedly until you've gone full circle around the mold.  
Bang your mold down a few times to make sure no air bubble are trapped, then you're done!  Toss a piece of freezer paper on the top of the mold, then insulate the mold with a few towels and blankets.  We wanted to make sure the soap went through a gel phase so we piled on the blankets to keep the soap nice and toasty!
Wait at least 24 hours (no peeking!) then unmold your soap.  Flip the mold on its head and gently loosen the wing nuts until you can wiggle the mold off the slab of soap.  Peel back the freezer paper and flip your slab back on its bottom.
Cut the loaf into however many bars you'd like!  This soap was a little soft so you can wait a couple extra days between unmolding and cutting.  Let the soap cure for 4 weeks and then you're ready to use your luscious alkenet infused soap!  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Easy DIY Perfume Rollers

Recently Voyageur brought in some adorable little 2 ml rollerball bottles that are perfect for making your own aromatherapy perfumes!  These 2 ml bottles are so great because you can pop them in your purse or glove box for on-the-go, and they are the perfect size for making trial blends before committing to the larger size rollerball bottles.  

Making your own perfumes can be done using only a couple ingredients: a carrier oil plus essential or fragrance oils.  The carrier oil that you choose is up to you, although you want to make sure it has a long shelf life and is very stable.  This generally means no green, unrefined oils!  We would recommend oils such as jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, coconut oil fractionated, sunflower oil etc. You can add Vitamin E T-50 if you're concerned about the oil oxidizing as it is a natural anti-oxidant that slows the speed at which oils go bad.  If you're using an oil that you've had for a long time or if it is starting to have a smell to it just add a couple drops of Vitamin E T-50 to extend its shelf life.  We decided to go with our new Clear Jojoba Oil for the carrier oil.  Once you have your carrier oil it's time to choose your blend of essential oils.  For a great resource on blending essential oils take a look here.  

As an example we have created 3 perfume blends using our therapeutic grade essential oils.  We mixed the blend up first into our very stylish 5 ml blue essential oil bottle with dropper cap. Each recipe makes 5 ml of concentrated perfume.  These concentrated blends will be diluted with the carrier oil before putting on the skin.

Sexy Florals:  This blend is sultry and seductive with prominent floral notes.  

10 drops Vetiver Essential Oil
20 drops Rose 10% Essential Oil
40 drops Lavender Essential Oil
30 drops Bergamot Essential Oil

Exotic and Musky: The jasmine and mandarin in this blend go strikingly well together, rounded out by the soft, vanilla-like scent of Peru balsam. 

20 drops Peru Balsam Essential Oil
30 drops Jasmine 10% Essential Oil
50 drops Mandarin Red Essential Oil

Headache Relief:  This is a question we get all the time; how to make a blend to help with headaches.  It smells sweet and minty and could help those who are prone to headaches or migraines!

10 drops Vetiver Essential Oil
10 drops Lavender Essential Oil
20 drops Cajeput Essential Oil
30 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
30 drops Eucalyptus Globulus Essential Oil

Slowly drop in all the drops of essential oil into the blue glass bottle.  Now you can add it to your rollerball container!  Pour in 2 mls of the carrier oil of your choice then add 1-2 drops of the perfume oil concentrate.  Our little 18mm funnels are perfect for getting those oils in with no spillage!

Not only can these blends be added to oil to create a perfume, they can be incorporated into lotions or creams, diffused in a diffuser or nebulizer, added into soaps, body mists, hair care, candles and more!  Get creative and experiment with different essential oils, once you find your favourite scent the possibilities are endless as to how you can incorporate it into day-to-day life!

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