Making utility candles from paraffin wax is a simple and easy way to generate cash income in any village or rural area. Everyone uses candles, even urban families with electricity.
Paraffin wax is available from oil companies as it is a by-product of the oil refining process. Some companies like Sasol make it from other raw materials.
Paraffin Wax comes in different qualities and is rated at different melting temperatures. The two main types of paraffin wax are "fully refined" and "semi-refined". Fully refined wax has an oil content of less than 1%. Semi-refined wax usually has an oil content of about 1-1/2%. Some waxes have 10% or even 20% oil content and are called "slack" waxes. These are mixed with stearic acid which raises the melting temperature. Floor polish is usually made from slack wax.
Generally speaking, the less oil in the wax, the more expensive. High quality, decorative candles are made from Nippon Sierowax which has about 0,3% oil. It is translucent and slightly off-white in colour. It remains soft and pliable well below the melting point.
Sasolwax M3 is available in South Africa and is widely used for candle making. It is deep white and gells very rapidly as it approaches the melting temperature. Just below the melting point it sets up hard. These attributes are favourable for machine made candles.
A "Chinese Wax" is widely available at a lower price than most waxes. It has a slightly sparkly appearance. It is not as strong as the others but burs well.
Commercial candles are usually 75 grammes each and sold in packages of 6. The wax is sold in boxes of 25 to 30 Kg or in bags of 50 Kg. The profit margin (gross) is about 40-50% of the retail price.
The only equipment required to make the candles 10 at a time is a 5 litre oil can with the top cut off (see picture) and some sticks 300mm x 50mm x 6mm. Each stick can hold 10 candles and some 15 sticks can be used by one person. It is best to have 2 of the 5 litre cans.
Training offered by NDE:
Picture of the first students who graduated from the first Candle Making Course offered by the Baha'i National Social and Economic Development Committee in Manzini, Swaziland.
Several thousand people have been trained in making candles using the "dipping" or "drawing" technique. It can be done by small children if supervised.