Frustrated with black soot and burn marks in her candle jars, Stacy Hardin decided to make her own candles–now she makes thousands.

Typically, candles are made from a wax called paraffin. Because of its petroleum base, such candles often burn down the center, leaving black soot, burn marks and excess wax around the edges. In her frustration, Hardin began researching alternatives that burn more cleanly, a process which led her to soy wax.

“I tried several different formulas before I found one that I liked,” said Hardin. “Initially, I wanted to make candles for myself, but found that there was a large market of people who also wanted these candles.” And with that, Hardin Soy Candles was sparked.

The business began in the fall of 2003 and went through several name changes before she ultimately decided that her last name should be a part of the process she loves. “I really wanted my business to reflect me and my family. It has become such a huge part of my life,” she explained.

The process is at its most demanding between the months of August and December, when the holiday season is impending. But instead of just buying and burning, Hardin is making and selling between 5,000 and 10,000 candles, depending on the economy. To keep up such volumes, she spends her evenings making about 300 candles. “I pour in large batches, so it can be very time-consuming. You must absolutely love it…it would get very tedious to most people,” Hardin said. “I absolutely love it!”

The process begins with 50 pounds of wax at a time, melted to liquid. While the wax is melting, she wicks her candle jars. Hardin uses wicks with cotton cores rather than metal ones, which reduces soot and black smoke. The wicks are braided, which causes them to curl into the flame so they do not need to be trimmed as often. (An untrimmed wick can leave a burn spot on a jar.)

SOY vs. PARAFFIN

  • Soy candles are soot-free.
  • Soy candles burn more slowly and last between 30 and 50 percent longer.
  • Soy candles burn at a lower temperature, allowing the use of 100-percent cotton wicks.
  • Soy candles support domestic soybean farmers.
  • Soy wax does not require any additives.

HOW A FRAGRANCE CAN AFFECT YOUR MOOD…

  • Peppermint positively impacts athletic performance, alertness and attitude.
  • Vanilla calms and significantly lessens anxiety and stress.
  • White sage can lift you from sadness.
  • Citrus fragrances are re-energizing.
  • Lavender, chamomile and rose fragrances can help with a better night’s rest.
  • Sandalwood, juniper berry, jasmine and mimosa are the best fragrances for love.

(Source: Sense of Smell Institute)

After gluing the wick to the bottom of the jar, she mixes the fragrances and dyes with the wax at the appropriate temperature. Pouring the candles is the next step, and then begins the waiting for the wax to solidify, which can take several hours. After the wax has hardened, the final touches are added, such as trimming the wicks and applying labels and lids.

All in all, the process takes seven or more hours, meaning Hardin’s day is full-she also operates a small daycare business during the day and is working on a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. Fortunately, she has four children and a husband who are very supportive, helping her at the festivals and craft shows she attends nearly every weekend during the busy months.

Hardin Soy Candles gets a lot of its business at these shows, where customers can witness for themselves the benefits of soy wax. Not only do they see that little or no soot is put off by the candles, they can smell the strong fragrance. Soy candles typically have a stronger and longer-lasting scent than paraffin candles, and they burn evenly, so there is no “tunneling” down the middle of the jar, leaving wasted wax. Soy candles are water-soluble as well. “You can spill it onto any surface-clothing and carpet included-and it wipes right up with soap and warm water,” she explained.

Speaking of soap, Hardin also makes an all-natural, soy-based soap with soybean oil, glycerin and aloe vera gel. It is hypoallergenic, moisturizing and does not contain the detergent in most commercial soaps. But her true passion is for making soy candles. “The candle-making part is the most fun, and I really love to do it!”

For more information on Hardin Soy Candles, call 679-9548 or visit hardinsoycandles.com. a&s