Wax Formulas For Votive Candles

By Bob Sherman

Wax formulas or recipes as they are sometimes called can be quite confusing to beginners. In this article I will explain various ingredients and offer wax formulas I have had success with for making votive candles.

PLEASE NOTE!! - Candle making can be dangerous if proper safety procedures are not followed. Please read these Safety Rules before attempting any candle making projects.

What Is A Votive Candle?

Contrary to popular belief, a votive candle is not a small pillar candle and in fact they should never be burned as freestanding candles. Votives are essentially a container candle without the container, and as such they should always be placed in a votive holder before burning them.

What Makes A Good Votive Candle?

Generally a well made votive candle contains a medium or soft wax formula and has a wick suitable for that formula / candle diameter combination. This will provide a candle that has:

Paraffin Wax

The main ingredient. Paraffin wax is a complex molecule that is created at oil refineries by fractional distillation. The general assumption is that wax is wax, however the reality is that no two waxes are identical and they even vary slightly from one batch to the next from the same manufacturer.

Although on the surface that last statement does not seem too significant, the implications have an enormous bearing on your candle making:

The most important factor with wax is to find one that works well for you and stick with it. Every time you change waxes, you will need to test your formulas and wick sizes.


If you are making scented candles, scent oil will affect your wax formula and usually the wick size needed as well. Scent oil will make the wax slightly softer and lower the viscosity (thickness) of the melted wax. The main implication of this is that you may need a different wick size for scented and unscented candles made with the same wax formula.

Some important things to know about scent oils:


Votive candles should always be colored with candle dyes. Pigments or crayons should never be used to color votive candles.


Always use a cored wick in votive candles. Cored wick is used for two main reasons:

See my Wick Selection Guide for information about choosing the correct wick.

Votive Wax Formula #1
This Vybar based formula is my favorite votive candle formula and I highly recommend it. It works very well with both scented and unscented candles, and is very economical compared to stearic based formulas. This will also provide a bright white candle if you leave out the dye. Vybar based formulas will hold the maximum amount of scent and will inhibit oil mottling (snowflakes). This formula is as heat resistant as a good votive formula can be and anyone in warm areas should consider using this formula. This heat resistance comes at the cost of a slightly smaller melt pool.

  • 1 pound of 140 melt point paraffin wax
  • Vybar 103 - 1 level teaspoon
  • Scent Oil - 1 ounce per pound of wax
  • Color - dye block or flake to desired color

Note: Vybar based formulas are more opaque and require slightly more dye to attain the same depth of color.

Votive Wax Formula #2
This Stearic based formula is what I used before Vybar was widely available. It is rather old fashioned and dates back to when I started making candles in the 1970s. Stearic is more expensive to use, however it is slightly easier to obtain - especially outside the U.S. Stearic based formulas will not hold as much scent oil and will not retain their scent as well as Vybar based formulas. Stearic based formulas are less opaque, and do not inhibit oil mottling (snowflakes).

Stearic based formulas are inferior in nearly every way to Vybar based formulas. The one exception is if you are intentionally making mottled candles because Vybar will inhibit the mottling reaction.

Candle Making Supplies

The following candle making supplies are what I use to make pillar candles. Clicking on the item name will bring you to that item's page with a full description and ordering information.

Paraffin Wax

Additives (Vybar, Stearic)

Dye Blocks

Dye Flakes

Scent Oils

Zinc Core Wick

Pre Tabbed Zinc Core Wick

Melting / Pouring Pot


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Disclaimer: The information presented here is accurate to the best of my knowledge and common candle making practices as of the time of this writing Originally published in May 2007 and updated in July 2011. The author and the publisher accept no liability for the use or misuse of any of the information presented in this article. This article is presented for informational purposes and is used at your own risk.

Author: Bob Sherman

Publisher: Bobby's Craft Boutique Inc.

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