Wednesday, January 03, 2024

Vegan Wax AromaTarts


Vegan Wax AromaTarts

Marci Tsohonis
Essential Herbal Magazine January/February 2019 


Candles and scents help me feel cozy hibernating indoors during this gray, cold time of the year.   I have never made candles, but friends often gift me with the good essential oil candles and the flameless wax candles that look real.  One friend gave me a wax tart melter with some lovely Lemon Verbena scented soy wax tarts.  Swoon!  I’ve been addicted to them ever since.  The wax tarts made with essential oils are surprisingly hard to find, at least in towns near me, and they are not cheap.  The ones made with fragrance oil smell great in the package, but the scent changes during the melting.  I decided to make my own wax tarts without using Bee’s wax despite it being my favorite wax.   Bees are dwindling in numbers and working hard enough already.  Warning, OCD tangent just ahead!  It could be contagious. 

 My supply shelves held Bee’s wax, Candelilla wax and Carnauba wax, but no Soy wax, and after a bit of research on soy wax, I decided not to order any.  In researching waxes for the tarts, I found several references suggesting that soy candle wax is solvent extracted from genetically modified soy seed grown with pesticides.  It is grown by just a handful of growers, including Monsanto, and only in the United States.  I love the smokeless properties of soy candles, but I can’t un-see that research now.  Unless something more positive comes to light, I will personally pass on using soy wax for now. 

Candelilla wax is extracted from Euphorbia cerifera, a shrub native to Mexico.  It is a cosmetic astringent, emulsion stabilizer, and does have a scent, though it does not seem unpleasant to me.  Think of an extremely mild scent of honey and resin, or maybe honey and camphor.  I could not detect the wax scent at all in the sample tarts I made.   References to Candelilla wax suggest it is a low hazard wax.

Carnauba wax is harvested from the leaves of the Coepernicia prunifers palm tree in Brazil.  It is one of the hardest natural waxes.  It is commonly used in commercial waxes and polishes, and to coat pills and candies, because of its durable nature and high luster.

Virgin Coconut oil hardly needs an explanation.  The benefits in food and skincare are legion.  It is made from the fresh coconut meat of the coconut palm tree that grows in tropical climates.   It retains the fresh coconut scent and is high in lauric acid.   Refined coconut oil (copra) is made from the scraped, dried fruits of the same tree and is widely used in soap making and other skincare applications.   

Mountain Rose Herbs had a guest candle recipe post on their blog containing Carnauba and Coconut oil.  I always have coconut oil on hand, so I measured out equal parts Carnauba and virgin coconut oil.  Carnauba takes a long time to melt.  The finished tart was so hard it hadn’t melted in 50 minutes over the low heat of the melting dish. 


It obviously was not suitable for wax tarts.  After seeing how hard that wax combo was, it makes sense that it would burn cleanly with a candle flame, and would not distort or collapse as happens with softer candles.  


I scaled down a wax tart recipe with bee’s wax and coconut oil that I found online, but substituted Candelilla for the bee’s wax.  Candelilla is generally a good vegan substitute for bee’s wax, with similar melting temps, yet much harder.  The finished tart was way too soft. 

The mad scientist in me surfaced.  The chicken breasts I was going to make for dinner went back in the refrigerator.  Dinner was not happening that night.  I filled every votive container I had with various increments of Candelilla and V Coconut oils.  I labeled each votive.  As the wax hardened, I noticed hairline cracks on some of the wax clinging to the sides of the jars.

The next votive was bee’s wax and coconut oil, made so I could compare the sheeting of various combinations.  I wanted lovely scent, so I added a half an eyedropper of a Lavender and Rosemary essential oil blend to each 1 oz. votive of melted wax.  I hoped to end up with a tart that wouldn’t fingerprint with handling.

I made a new batch of votives, reversing all the previous wax and oil ratios with a higher rate of V Coconut to Candelilla.  Two of the newer pours coated the votives without cracking, similar to Bee’s wax.  I melted them in the warmer, one at a time, and took notes.  I tried to melt the bee’s wax and coconut tart, but part of the square imprint still remained after an hour of melting.   It smelled glorious, though.

Only three tarts made the final cut for me, and I liked each of them for different reasons. 


3:1 – V. Coconut/Candelilla  - The tart looked firm and shiny, but melted completely in 25-30 minutes.  The scent from the coconut oil and essential oils held wonderfully.  The downside was the shiny surface smudged pretty easily with handling.  All in all, for my own use, and carefully stored, these would probably be my first choice.

2:1 – V. Coconut/Candelilla – Firm and shiny, it melted in 35 minutes.  Less sensitive to smudging when handled quickly and the scent was wonderful. 

1:1 – V. Coconut/Candelilla – Firm, shiny, and fully melted in 40 minutes.  No nicks or smudges!  The EO scent held ok, though was less pronounced than the above 2 tarts.  These would be likely to hold up well even if stacked together in cello bags.

The formulas with higher ratios of Candelilla wax looked great, and there were no visible cracks in the tarts themselves, but they were disappointing overall.  The melt took too long.

Some EO blend suggestions:

Lemongrass, Ginger and Vetiver

Rose Geranium, Lavender and Frankincense

Bois de Rose, Geranium and Patchouli

Bergamot, Patchouli and Almond

Lavender, Juniper and Rosemary


Enjoy!  Marci

No comments: