Over the past few years, the Valley Mill team has been practising the art of candle making and through many, many trials we have developed a technique and finished product to be proud of.
If you haven’t seen them yet, Valley Mill’s soy candles are made with 100% natural soy wax and have large wooden wicks. The wick is a very important aspect of any candle – a wooden wick allows for a full melt pool, which means no wax is wasted when the candles are burned. Additionally, a large melt pool means a better scent-throw; a major plus point when it comes to fragranced candles. They are housed in a very chunky, good quality 12oz glass tumbler and capped with a hand made Welsh slate topper, which doubles up as a coaster when the candle is fully burned.
We’ve worked tirelessly to ensure that our soy candles are up there with the very best and our customers are continually recognising how good they really are. The best part is, they’re not mass-produced in a far-away country by a faceless company. They’re hand made in South Wales by people who believe in craftsmanship and quality. So to give you an insight to the process involved before they sit on your sideboard, here’s a step by step guide to how we make them…
Firstly we turn on our wax cooker and fill it with natural soy wax – it melts at around 60 degrees Celsius.
While we wait for the wax to melt, we lay out the tumblers onto our heated table. We’ve learned that it’s really important to ensure that the glass is warm when the wax is poured. If it’s not, when the wax starts to cool, it can separate from the glass container, leaving a slight gap between the glass and the wax. The heated table also prevents the wax from cooling too quickly – if this occurs, the candle will crack. With this in mind, gradual cooling is a top priority when it comes to producing quality candles.
Once the wax has melted and the tumblers are warm, we need to prepare the scent. We use 20ml per candle, which equates to 7% scent. As we pour five candles at a time, we need 100ml of scent per pour.
We then pour 1.5 litres into a jug and check the temperature, which needs to be between 58 and 62C. It’s a delicate process and if it’s too cold, we pour the wax back into the cooker and increase the temperature slightly. Equally if it’s too hot, we will have to wait for it to cool down.
Once the correct temperature is reached, we can pour the scent into the jug and give the wax a good stir, not leaving it too long as the wax does cool down slightly as soon as you pour the scent in.
We place the wooden wick into the glass tumblers, making sure they are central and secure. When we first started to make soy candles, we placed the wicks into the tumblers later in the process – but in line with our drive to continually improve and progress, we found that adding them before the wax is poured allows for a better finished product.
We slowly pour the wax into the tumblers, careful to avoid creating too much disturbance in the glass, as this will create bubbles and air pockets when the candle sets.
We repeat this process for a full batch of 100 candles and then cover them to avoid any contamination – and help to keep the heat in for as long as possible. We can then turn the heated table off and wait for 24 hours.
After the candles are set, we use a heat gun to re-melt the tops of the candles, removing any surface irregularities that can be caused by trapped air.
Once the candle tops are flat, all that’s left to do is give them a wipe over to make sure there are no wax drips. We then apply the stickers and box them up, ready to be distributed. All of our soy candles come gift-boxed, as standard.
We send our natural soy wax candles all over the world and stock a number of UK gift shops, including our own store in Neath town centre. Our Welsh Cake and Bara Brith candles are proving very popular recently – but although we may be biased, if you ask us, all of the Valley Mill candle fragrances are outstanding!