Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Amazing Emerald Sea!

Ahhhhh, sunshine & happiness. To me, that is everything a warm winter vacation is about. The problem is, coming home (I live in north east Minnesota) can sometimes be quite a shocker. 

We've spent the past three winters vacationing in Riviera Maya, Mexico. This place is truly heaven on earth. Perfect powdery sand beaches, the cool blue green Caribbean waters, the smell of the salt in the air and the breeze off the ocean. There are jungles, cenotes, ancient ruins, sea turtles, coral reefs and so much more! It's just paradise!

I keep wishing I was still there and decided a perfect reminder would be a layered Emerald Sea Pillar! Emerald Sea: This fruity floral blend is brightened by lemon and lime. Layers of mango and peach balance with peony, violet and sampaguita flower for an exotic sensation. A dry down of sweet musk and grated coconut completes the blend. Just think, salty sea air combined with the fruits and flowers of the tropics. It's amazing! Here is what you will need to make this one of a kind masterpiece for yourself!

Supplies List:

IGI 1274 Mottle Pillar Blend
Liquid Candle Dye in Ivory, Kelly Green and Blue/Sky
3" x 4.5" Seamless Aluminum Candle Mold
Pillar Wick Pin
Mold Sealer Putty
2/0 Square Braid Cotton wick, pre-tabbed
Emerald Sea Fragrance Oil

Start by preparing your Mold.
Tear off about 3/4" of Mold Sealer.
Roll it into a ball and spread it across the bottom of the mold completely
covering the hole.
Then insert the Pillar Wick Pin, inside the mold. 

After your mold is ready, weigh out 15 oz of wax and follow these instructions for melting, fragrance, dye etc:
Heat wax to 190-200*. Once wax reaches desired temp, add your
dye, blend well then add fragrance and again blend well. For 15 weight ounces of wax I would recommend about .8 weight oz. of fragrance. Since we are pouring in layers, and we want a funky, rustic look, wait until the wax cools to about 165 to pour your layers. You will want to "slosh" a bit of wax up onto the side of the mold with each pour. I used 1 oz of the fragranced wax for the sand color (remember the top of the candle is the bottom of the mold so pour in reverse order!) using a toothpick tip amount of the Ivory liquid dye.
After the first pour has cooled some, reheat your reserved wax from your first pour and refill the void Repeat the repour process as necessary. To make a rustic finished candle, do not heat the molds and pour the wax at 165*.

This process makes beautiful candles that remind you of a warm summer day or a vacation to somewhere tropical and magical! Give one a try, layered pillars are simple and fun to make!

Happy Candlemaking!


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dyes, Dyes & More Dyes!

I am often asked 'what dye works best for candles?' and while I really wish that was a question I could answer, I am afraid there is no simple answer. For candles, there are many types of dyes. Hopefully this blog will help you in deciding what will work best for you!

First, in selecting the dyes, you need to be aware of what wax you will be using. This will be explained later but it does sometimes matter. When shopping for dyes always keep in mind the wax you will be using with them for the best results.

So here we go! Bitter Creek offers between the North and South locations one of the best selections of candle dyes anywhere! We offer Powder, Flake, Block, Chip, Liquid and Pigments. It seems like the task of choosing will be overwhelming and sometimes it can be but it really doesn't have to be, for anyone. I will explain in the best but simplest detail possible how to best decide what you should be using in your candles!

Let's start with Powder Dyes since all dyes begin as powders! Just makes the most sense to start at the beginning to me. :) Powder dyes are an EXCELLENT choice in any wax. Because it is just the dye, it won't cause frosting in soy, won't disturb the pattern in palm & the colors are strong and bold. Powder dyes make beautifully colored candles! So what you're thinking now is, if powder is so great.....why isn't that all that is sold, right? Well sometimes I think the same way but truth be told, there is a reason and that is that it is so concentrated many small candle makers may find it difficult to work with and duplicate colors from it.

Powder dyes are extremely concentrated, a little goes a LONG way! Usage can vary from as little as .001% for a light shade, to .05% for a dark shade. Dissolving powder dyes in Steric Acid (a few teaspoons +/- worth depending on the size of your batch) on direct heat prior to adding to wax or blending directly into your fragrance oil will help with dispersion and help reduce undissolved particles in the wax. (I find the fragrance oil method works best) Do not add powder dyes directly to the wax, they will not properly dissolve. 

Because of the limited color range in powder dyes, color blending is usually necessary to
achieve a variety of colors. The investment in a Color Wheel will be a great help in achieving a rainbow of colors and color variations. To measure powder dyes accurately, a very precise scale will work best. For smaller candle makers, we well "Pinch, Dash & Smidgen" spoons that also work excellent.

Pro Powders are suitable in the following waxes: ALL WAX TYPES
Next on my list are Liquid Candle Dyes.  

Liquid Candle Dye: Available at  Bitter Creek North and Bitter Creek South
Liquid candle dyes are Powder Dyes that have been added to a liquid solvent. Liquids are an excellent, strong dye that works great in most waxes. They are not recommended for use in soy candles as they tend to frost but are the best choice, next to Powders for Palm Wax.

Liquid Dyes are packaged in clear glass Boston Round bottles with dropper tops. Each color can be made into different shades by adjusting the usage amount (see suggested use percentages below - .05% equals approximately 7 drops of dye per pound of wax). One oz. of dye should color approx. 125 lbs of wax (1 lb. of dye per 2,000 lbs) to a medium shade. Suggested usage varies for each color & shade, and will vary depending upon wax formula and additives. Once you get the shade you want, keep notes on the amount and measure used for easier color duplication in future batches. For larger batches, 1 tsp of dye equals about 132 drops or 5 grams.
Keep caps closed tightly or the dye can dry out! If the bottle clogs up, remove cap and add a few drops of mineral oil to thin the liquid back out, replace cap and shake well. Use a pin to unclog squeeze caps.

Note: These liquid dyes are very concentrated and have an odor to them. Once the dyes are diluted with wax and fragrance oil, this will not affect your finished candles.

Liquid Dyes are suitable in the following waxes: ALL WAX TYPES EXCEPT SOY

The Next Dye type is Dye Blocks

Color Blocks: Available only at Bitter Creek North

Color Blocks are an excellent dye choice for every wax type except Palm. Because the base is paraffin, it can tend to cause interference with the natural crystallization of palm and therefore is not recommended for them. For all other waxes, they are an optimal choice. Our concentrated color blocks work well in paraffin, soy, palm and beeswax. The base of these dyes are made from paraffin wax and have a melt point between 120* and 130*. Depending on the wax you are using
and it's opacity, a single block will color between 10-25 lbs of wax to a deep shade. Use less colorant to achieve lighter shades. Be sure to add these to wax that is hot! Between 185-195* works best OR melt them on direct heat gently (BE CAREFUL NOT TO BURN THEM!) with a bit of wax. Once in the wax stir well to avoid speckles in the wax. Some very small specks on the bottom of the jars may happen but it does not affect the general aesthetics of the candle.

*Tip! Use our Mini Color Block Grater to add the block to the wax! Works great!

Color Blocks are suitable in the following waxes: ALL WAX TYPES EXCEPT PALM
The Next Dye type are Diamond Dye Chips

Diamond Dye Chips: Available only at Bitter Creek North

Do you find that achieving the same color twice is hard? Try Diamond Dye Chips. Diamond Dye Chips are the easiest candle dyes to use. They work excellent in all kinds of wax, and especially in soy! Add one for a lighter, pastel color, add two for a mid tone color, add three for a deeper, true color per weight pound of wax. Slightly less may be needed for a straight paraffin wax. These are very easy to use and duplicate colors with time and time again! This is THE dye system for anyone looking for easy to duplicate colors with absolutely no dye mess! 
Be sure to add these to a wax that is a high enough temperature. Between 180-195 is perfect. Stir well to be sure they completely dissolve. I love these chips myself, if a perfect dye is possible, this may be it!
Tip: The Blue chips work great with our Blueberry Muffins fragrance! They remain blue and will not turn green!
Diamond Dye Chips are suitable in the following waxes: ALL WAX TYPES
The Next Dye type are Dye Flakes
Dye Flakes: Available only at Bitter Creek North  
These dyes come in a huge range of colors and are good for the novice to the professional. Add to your wax between 185-195 and stir well to properly dissolve. Some of the reds are a bit harder to dissolve then others but high enough temp is the key. They make beautiful and rich color! 
High quality, concentrated professional candle dyes! Rich colors that are resistant to fading and bleeding. Recommended usage is .1 to .3% (or approx. 1/2 gram per pound of wax). For
the most precise measuring, we recommend using a good digital gram scale. Size of flakes may vary by color. One ounce of flakes will dye approx. 45 - 65lbs of wax. This will vary depending on the type of wax and additives used. 
*Our Pinch, Dash & Smidgen Spoon works well to measure dye flakes!
Dye Flakes are suitable in the following waxes: ALL WAX TYPES
The Next Dye type are Dye Blocks
 Color Blocks: Available only at Bitter Creek South

This unique dye is amazing. Sold only at the south location, they are truly a one of a kind product. I personally love working with them. They are wonderful in every wax type.The exact amount of dye had been calculated into each block to make each color in the color chart. You can make several colors and shades with the same block just by varying the volume of wax with a single Dye Block. Just follow the easy to understand chart on the page with the dyes and in no time at all, you will see this is a superior break-apart color delivery system.

  • Choose the color you would like your candle to look like from the Dye Block Color Chart. Follow the directions/recommendations under each color patch.
  • There are 27 Color Blocks to choose from. The last two blocks, #29 and #30, are additives that prevent the dyes from fading. Whitener Block #28 produces White under certain conditions.
  • Each of the 27 Dye Blocks produces several colors or shades by increasing or decreasing the ratio of color in wax. In all, more than 75 colors can be made with only the 27 Dye Blocks in the color chart.
  • Virtually all the candles in the marketplace are represented in this color chart.
  • Endless more unique colors, however, can be achieved by mixing parts of one Dye Block with another Dye Block in wax.
  • All these Dye Color Blocks are compatible with each other in wax.
  • The Dye Blocks work well in all kinds of paraffin or naturally derived waxes. They may look somewhat different in different kinds of wax.
Dye Blocks are suitable in the following waxes: ALL WAX TYPES 

And there you have it! A way to select the right dye for you!
Happy Candlemaking!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pretty Gel Candles!

This month I decided I needed a kick away from winter. I am thinking sunshine and summer here! It's a long way away yet but these candles are pretty and remind me of the warmer months that will come again in the spring! Gel candles are not as common as they once were, but they are so pretty and when made correctly burn beautifully and smell terrific! 

This months project are very basic to make but really look like a million bucks and smell terrific! Wax Embed Gel Candles!


Presto Kitchen Kettle to melt the gel
Digital Scale
Metal Spoons
Pyrex Measure Cup
Liquid Candle Dye (optional)
Wax Embeds

**(Embeds can also be made using
IGI 1260 wax and our Embed Molds)
Low Density Candle Gel

GelWix Candle Wicks
**Gel Aroma Fragrance Oils
(Gel Fragrances MUST BE GEL SAFE!!! Please see
Safety info regarding how to check this by clicking here)

1/2 Pint Square Mason Jars

Instructions for making wax
  1. Pre-wick your jars using the wick stickums or high temp hot glue on the bottom of the round metal wick tabs. Stick them down in the center of your jars and make sure they are secure.
  2. Melt the gel. We recommend using a Presto Kitchen Kettle for this
  3.  Use the thermometer to keep track of temperature. Once temp reaches about 210, add your liquid dye (optional). Very little is needed to tint the gel, but this will depend on how faint or dark you want the tint. We recommend using a toothpick to dab a tiny bit of dye on the tip, then swirl it into the gel. Add more as needed.
  4. Next add your scent. Penreco recommends using no more than 3% (1/2 oz per pound) in Low Density gel. We recommend using a digital scale for accuracy.
  5. Stir well and check temperature with thermometer. Once gel is approx. 200 degrees it is ready to pour. The cooler you pour, the more bubbles your gel will have. To minimize the bubbles, you can pour a little hotter at around 220, but we do not recommend any higher temp.
  6. Pour from your Pyrex cup into your jars slowly and steadily. Pour it about 1/2 full. Wait about five minutes and using a hemostat or a long tweezers place the embeds.
  7. Set in your embeds where desired.
  8. Re-heat the remainder of the gel to about 180 and pour the remainder of the gel candle slowly and steadily. Keep wicks as straight and centered as possible.
  9. Gel does not shrink, therefore your finished candles will require no re-pour and will be ready to burn in just a couple of hours!

I will be revisiting some more gel projects in the coming month! This months project is simple and will certainly look different than the rest! :)

Happy Candle Making!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Easy Travel Soaps!

Every year I go on vacation and I detest using hotel/resort soaps. They are usually the cheapest soaps out there and they do nothing by dry my skin and make my skin feel gross.

I figured out a solution! Make the soaps in clamshell molds! Take it out, break off a piece and use it while you are there. Such an easy solution for a problem that has plagued me for years!


Supplies Needed:
Melt and Pour Soap Base *I used Goats Milk
FD&C Dye *I used Blue
Cosmetic Glitter or Mica Optional
Clamshell Molds

Fragrance *I used Angel Type
Digital Scale
Pyrex Measure Cup

Melting the Soap Base

  • Microwave Method: Cut the Melt and Pour Base on the score lines and place it in a microwave safe dish. (Pyrex measuring cups work nicely) Place the dish in your microwave. Using full power, heat the base for one minute at a time until it begins to melt. Once it has started to melt, decrease this to 30 second intervals until it is fully melted stirring often. OR
  • Stove Top Method: Cut the Melt and Pour Base on the score lines and place it in a sauce pan. Turn the heat on Medium and stirring constantly, allow the soap to melt fully. Be sure to stir constantly to avoid scorching!

*The melted soap should be between 145-160 F.

Adding the Dye

  • FD&C Liquid Bath and Body Dye is the appropriate dye type for Melt and Pour Soap. Once your soap is melted, just add the dye a drop at a time, stirring after each until you reach your desired shade. The amount used will vary.

Adding the Fragrance:

  • For Melt and Pour, it is safe to use up to, but no more than ½ Weight Ounce of fragrance per pound of
    soap base. Each block of Melt and Pour Base is Two pounds. For one full block of soap, you would use up to 1 ounce of fragrance. Stir well after adding the fragrance oil to the melted & colored soap base. Be sure that on the IFRA declaration for each fragrance it is at least 3% safe to use 1/2 oz. per lb of base.

Pouring into Molds:

  • Pour your scented and colored soap base into the molds. Use a fine mist spray bottle filled with Rubbing Alcohol to lightly mist the tops of each of the just poured soaps to remove any bubbles.Try pouring into the clamshells at 150*, pouring much hotter can cause them to melt!

*You can place the mold in the freezer for a few minutes if removal is difficult but I typically suggest waiting longer instead before resorting to this method.

Make and market these to local hotel gift shops, to campers etc. This is the easiest way to bring soap with and not have to tote back a mess!

Happy Soap Making!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Oh Christmas Tree!

I love Christmas. I love making things that smell like Christmas. I love decorating the tree and the house, I love the faces of the small children and the way they light up when seeing Santa at the mall or the way they squeal in delight upon opening that coveted gift! Christmas cookies and candies and spending time with those you love! It's just purely magical! 

This month, I will be making a soap that is perfect for the Christmas Holiday. Put a bar in the bathrooms and another at the kitchen sink and let all of your holiday guests enjoy the scents of the holidays too! This mold could be used year round for a manly soap or one scented in pine! This project was tons of fun and could be made by the kids this holiday too using Melt and Pour in place of the Cold Process Recipe I used today!

Supplies Needed:
Fir Tree Tray Mold
A Northwoods Christmas
Olive Oil
Palm Oil or Lard (From a local grocer)
Coconut Oil

Sodium Hydroxide
OR if you want to do melt and pour versus cold process soap use
Mango Butter Melt and Pour Soap Base

First, mix your soap oils and get your lye solution ready. I found this mold took about  30 total ounces between the soap oils and lye mix. 

My recipe was as follows:
10 oz. Pomace Oilve Oil
5 oz. Coconut OIl
5 oz. Palm Oil or Lard
For the lye solution I used 3.05 oz lye and 5 oz water

Mix lye solution per standard safe practices.
When the lye solution and the oils reach about 100* combine them. DO NOT use a stick blender. Just use a small whisk.

Blend a small amount of the soap and color it green, enough to do the trees. 

Then add a bit of the brown and do the trunk portion
it will now look like this when you turn it over
Once you are to this point split the remaining raw soap and color a few oz a bright, red and do an in the pot swirl and pour into the molds.
Your finished soap slab will look like this: 

This is a truly fun project! Make them yourself for resale or to have in your own home this holiday or use melt and pour and make it a fun for the whole family project!

Happy Soaping!