Amber glass jars are rarer than gold… juniper berry oil can blow up? Candles can be vegan friendly but you might still need a meat thermometer… Candle making comes with a weird and wonderful learning curve and I have had to overcome some unexpected hurdles before the first batch has been released! Here are 5 head scratching points I never considered when I first dreamed of crafting my own scents.
1. The legalities are, like, pretty serious
When I think of candles I think of flickering flames in comfortable rooms and enticing aromas – I do not think about data sheets, warning labels and weird acronyms – I was incredibly naive when it came to the legal stuff.
The essential oils that Storm Coast candles use are pretty potent in their undiluted form (some are even flammable!) so they are held to the same standards as any other chemical product – that means tight rules on allergy statements and those weird symbols of dead fish and kids lighting the curtains on fire.
I send the formulas of all my blends to a specialist lab. So I can make sure my labels are legal and you know what you are getting when you light the wick.
2. There are a lot of choices when it comes to ingredients
I didn’t realise at first how many options there are for types of ingredients – and each with a unique set of pros and cons- it seemed like a minefield until I did some research! I had to consider the ethics of waxes and consider and the origins of oils in a way I hadn’t really thought was possible until I looked a little deeper. I’m sad to say that there won’t be any more paraffin candles in my personal collection now that I know a little more about them.
3. Candles find ways to shine light on new start-up costs
I’m making candles so I’ll just need wax and jars, right? How wrong I was!
What about labels… a designer for those labels? What about a website to sell them on… and packaging to send them out? Scales? Thermometers? What about print costs? Insurance? Lids… you mean they don’t come with the jars?!
As a self-funded start up everything at this stage has to come from my own pocket. I was a little optimistic in my initial estimates and overlooked a lot! The good news is that I’ve now got a product that I know will be a big hit for Christmas and just as well – it turns out that they will be all I can afford to give out as presents, haha!
4. Candle envy should be a recognised condition
This is a biggy for me… you should see my Pinterest board! This is technically market research and is a total necessity for setting up but wow, I now have some serious candle envy. I’m always amazed by the creativity of other makers, and how they bring something new to a product that has been on the market for over 2000 years! I can’t stop looking for new ideas – even when I probably should be sleeping.
It’s important for me to know the direction I am moving in, from the branding and packaging for products to the look and tone of our social media. All these things need to be taken into consideration and I’ve learned to love the research as much as the making.
Okay, so this isn’t really something they (whoever they are) tell you but I never imagined I would get so much joy from creating candles. As a really creative person I never really made the link but discovering aromas that pair well together is such a great way to be creative. The penny dropped for our first fragrance, Driftwood, as I was burning a candle in bed. I knew something was missing with my mix – Nic and I were sat chatting about something to take the sharpness out of the scent and I had just showered using Lush’s Sleepy Lotion. As soon as the scent hit me I knew… it needs lavender! (See what I mean about thinking about candles when I should be trying to sleep?).