Complete Guide to Montan Wax Benefits

tea light candle

Montan wax is a mineral-based fossilized wax that offers unique properties for candle making. Mined from lignite coal deposits found globally, this wax has been used for over a century for a variety of applications. Its source, characteristics, and uses make montan wax an intriguing, if controversial, candle ingredient.

What is Montan Wax?

Montan wax refers to lignite wax derived from lignite coal, a fossilized prehistoric swamp biomass containing wax esters. Mined lignite gets extracted to isolate crude montan wax containing long-chain wax esters and hydrocarbons. Further refining and bleaching yields products like refined montan.

Where Does Montan Wax Come From?

Lignite coal deposits exist on nearly every continent, allowing montan production worldwide. Top sources include Germany, China, Russia, the US, India and the Balkan region containing lignite coal with high wax content. Global montan reserves remain ample to meet demand.

How is Montan Made?

Montan production utilizes pit mining or dredging to extract lignite coal deposits. After crushing and grinding raw lignite to size, non-wax components get dissolved and separated via solvent extraction. Refiners apply acid, alkaline, and bleaching processes to further purify crude montan wax into products like refined montan meeting candle-grade specifications.

What are Montan Candles?

Montan wax candles incorporate refined wax, sometimes blended with other waxes. The mineral wax imparts unique properties, including high melting points up to 209°F and rock-like surface crystallization. Combined with vivid colors and burning intensity, Montan candles have an antique, gilded appearance fitting for decorative uses.

Is Montan Good for Candles?

With specialty characteristics, montan wax serves candle making in specific ways. The very high melt point suits processes like repeatedly dipping candles to build up elaborate wax formations. As it solidifies, the wax crystallizes into a sparkling hard montan crust unmolding easily from glass. The fossilized wax also burns slowly at high temperatures for bright illumination.

Benefits of Montan Wax Candles

  • Unique Appearance – Montan wax gives candles a one-of-a-kind crystallized finish resembling quartz.
  • Vibrant Colors – The wax readily accepts mineral-based pigments and dyes.
  • Long Burn Time – The dense wax structure allows unusually slow burn rates.
  • Hot Burning – Excellent capillary action gives Montan candles a hot, intensely bright flame.
  • Hardness – Solid montan wax has the flexibility for elaborately molded and relief candle designs.

Best Montan for Candles

Seeking refined, cosmetic-grade montan wax ensures purity and quality for candlemaking. Top commercial choices like KahlWax satisfy European standards for refined montan, exhibiting the highest melting points, hardness, and brightness desired for decorative wax applications.

Montan Candles DIY

Crafting montan candles requires essentials like wax, wicks, molds, dyes, and scent. Melt flakes to 185°F in a double boiler, carefully adding liquid dye until fully incorporated. Then pour into candle molds holding wicks centered. Allow thick layers to fully set up before gently unmolding finished candles. Now trim wicks to 1⁄4 inch before burning.

Why is Montan Used for Candles?

  • Unique Visual Styles – The crystalline finish and vibrant colors create dramatic decorative candles.
  • Slow Burn Rates – A dense montan wax structure allows uniquely long burn times.
  • Bright Illumination – Excellent capillary action produces a hot, intensely bright candle flame.
  • Flexible Hardness – Solid montan suits elaborate molded, embossed, and dipped candle designs.

How to Use Montan for Candles

  • Melt montan wax 10-15 degrees above the stated melt point, typically using the double boiler method to protect wax integrity.
  • Monitor temperature carefully when adding dyes or fragrances.
  • Allow the wax to briefly cool down just below the pouring temperature before carefully pouring it into candle molds.
  • Let candles cure for 48 hours before gently unmolding the finished pieces.
  • Wrap wicks using pre-tabbed wick stickers before burning.

Why is Montan So Expensive?

Montan wax

In addition to small batch production, mining, and refining processes contribute to montan pricing significantly higher than typical candle waxes. As a rare geological commodity, sourcing raw lignite wax adds costs. Capital intensity of solvent extraction and extensive multi-stage refining also drive up montan prices, which remain hundreds of dollars per kilogram. Despite this, many candle makers gladly pay premium pricing to access Montan wax’s uniqueness.

Montan Wax Candle Recipe

This simple container candle formula highlights montan wax’s exceptional properties. Makes one 8 oz candle.

  • 7 oz refined montan wax shards
  • 1 oz paraffin wax
  • 2 drops red liquid candle dye
  • 1 oz candle fragrance oil


  • Melt both waxes to 185°F in a double boiler, stirring completely.
  • Mix in dye and fragrance.
  • Carefully pour into a heat-safe container holding the wick.
  • Allow to fully cure for 48 hours before gently unmolding the finished candle.

Environmental Impact

As a non-renewable mined mineral, montan wax raises sustainability concerns compared to bio-based waxes. Extensive processing of refined wax also consumes significant energy resources. Some companies now recover montan as a byproduct of brown coal processing to reduce impacts. Unique properties continue driving specialty demand despite large ecological footprints.

Beeswax vs Montan Wax Candles

A classic natural beeswax offers many contrasting properties against montan wax, a mineral-based fossilized coal wax. Comparing the two waxes illustrates key differences.


Beeswax is 100% natural, made by honey bees for building honeycomb structures. As a fossil wax, montan takes millions of years to form from preserved organic matter in lignite coal deposits.


Beeswax lends candles a rich, sweet, honey-like fragrance from natural beeswax components like alcohol, carbohydrates, and wax esters. Refined montan has virtually no detectable scent.


Brittle beeswax by itself cracks easily from handling. Blending with other waxes gives better structural flexibility. Montan crystallizes into a quartz-like armored shell, allowing molded candle designs.


Natural beeswax falls in hues from yellow to brown. Bleached versions look creamy white. Montan wax accepts synthetic mineral dyes extremely well for vivid candle colors.

Burn Behavior

Beeswax candles often exhibit excellent burn times thanks to dense wax content. Montan also burns slowly, aided by strong capillary action from the wax crystal formation. Hot-burning montan provides brighter candle flames.


Rare due to intensive production by beehives, purified beeswax remains costly for candle-making at up to $3 per ounce. Refined montan also fetches premium pricing around $50-100 per kilogram owing to specialized mining and refining processes.

Sustainability Concerns

As a renewable byproduct of beekeeping, beeswax aligns well with eco-standards. Non-renewable montan from finite geological reserves contradicts green product claims despite some companies recovering montan from coal process waste streams.

Beeswax and montan make exceedingly different candle ingredients in terms of origin, scent, appearance, burn qualities, and environmental status. Interesting contrasts emerge from this classic natural wax pitted against an unusual fossilized mineral wax.

In conclusion with its crystallized finish and vibrant color options, montan creates stunning decorative candles like no other material. Yet mining and production concerns exist regarding the sustainability of this fossilized mineral wax. Still, devoted followers remain willing to purchase premium montan wax, valuing its artisanal versatility too much to abandon completely. Can future process innovations address ecological impacts? Time will tell.


Leave a Reply