Complete Guide to Polyethylene Wax Benefits

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Polyethylene wax is a synthetic petroleum-based wax offering particular properties for candle making when blended with other waxes. Made from polymerized ethylene gas, polyethylene wax has been commercially used for over 80 years in various applications thanks to its flexible waxy nature. Its source, characteristics, and uses make polyethylene wax a practical candle ingredient.

What is Polyethylene Wax?

Polyethylene wax refers to synthetic wax produced from polymerizing ethylene gas derived from refining crude oil and natural gas liquids. By controlling polymer chain length, polyethylene forms either a sticky paste or hard wax consistency. Most candlemaking grades fall into low molecular weight slack and polymer waxes.

Where Does Polyethylene Come From?

As a high volume petrochemical product, polyethylene wax originates from oil refineries and petro plants globally located near ethylene production units, including Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America. Abundant reserves ensure a steady supply of ethylene feedstock for polyethylene wax output keeping up with commercial demand.

How is Polyethylene Wax Made?

Polyethylene wax production utilizes a special catalytic process called polymerization to combine ethylene molecules into chains of different lengths, effectively growing them into a waxy polyethylene material. By controlling chain length based on processing time and catalysts, producers make various grades of polyethylene wax tailored to industrial uses, including protective coatings, lubricants, and plastics.

What are Polyethylene Candles?

Serving as a wax additive, polyethylene wax allows candle makers to modify properties like texture and scent throw in their candle formulas. Typically blended at less than 10% with paraffin or vegetable waxes, the synthetic polyethylene wax helps regulate consistency and burning rates for container candle production, often enhancing pouring viscosity and surface appearance.

Is Polyethylene Good for Candles?

While pure polyethylene wax remains too soft for self-supporting candles, blended appropriately it imparts useful enhancements to paraffin and soy waxes. Polyethylene helps adjust the melting point, opacity, and viscosity of the primary wax at very affordable prices. Synthetic wax also boosts scents in soy candles. Amounts over 10% can start to inhibit proper burning and pooling though.

Benefits of Polyethylene Candles

  • Enhances Viscosity – Polyethylene makes container wax more pourable at higher temperatures.
  • Improves Opacity – The wax builds an opaque appearance for maximizing color vibrancy.
  • Modifies Melt Point – Blending tweaks wax melting behavior.
  • Boosts Scent Release – Polyethylene aids hot and cold fragrance throw.
  • Controls Shrinkage – The wax additive reduces denting and shrinking issues.

Best Polyethylene for Candles

Seeking food-grade polyethylene wax micros designed for candle wax blending ensures quality and safety. Leading suppliers like Brenntag formulate specialized viscosities, melt points, and opacity grades suited for blending into container candle bases like paraffin at 5-15% ratios. Testing small batches helps dial in amounts.

Polyethylene Candles DIY

Crafting polyethylene blended candles uses regular materials like wax, fragrance, dye, and wicks. Melt base wax first before stirring in measured amounts of powdered polyethylene wax additive completely at ratios around 10%. Then add color and scent as usual before pouring into candle containers. Cool fully before burning, noting any formulation differences.

Why is Polyethylene Used for Candles?

  • Enhances Viscosity – Thicker wax is easier to pour cleanly into candle containers.
  • Boosts Opacity – Opaque wax allows richer candle color saturation.
  • Alters Melt Profile – Tweaks melt point to help liquefy wax fully.
  • Improves Scent Throw – Polyethylene seems to enhance fragrance performance.
  • Increases Stability – The wax additive prevents excessive shrinking and denting issues.

How to Use Polyethylene for Candles

Polyethylene Wax

Melt primary wax first in a double boiler up to 160°F. In a separate container, melt a measured amount of polyethylene wax additive 10 degrees hotter. Once both waxes liquefy fully, carefully stir the additive into the base wax, blending until homogenous. Then add desired candle colorants and fragrances as normal. Pour into containers, allowing them to completely set before burning.

Why is Polyethylene Expensive?

As a mass-produced petrochemical commodity, wholesale polyethylene costs less than a dollar per pound, making it very affordable for use as a blending agent in small amounts. Compared to the primary wax volume, the minor extra expense of polyethylene can provide valuable enhancements in appearance and performance.

Polyethylene Wax Candle Recipe

This blended soy container candle uses a common 10% polyethylene to soy wax ratio for standout opacity. Makes 8 ounces of wax.

  • 7 oz soy wax flakes
  • 0.7 oz polyethylene wax micros
  • 1 oz essential oil blend
  • 2 dye blocks


Melt soy wax first, then melt polyethylene separately to 170°F. Mix additive into soy wax, stirring thoroughly. Add oils and dye, mixing again completely. Pour into a container holding a wick to finish the candle.

Environmental Impact

As a petrochemical product, polyethylene used even in small amounts contribute larger environmental impacts from fossil fuel feedstocks compared to bio-based waxes. Yet using actual polyethylene production waste streams for reclaimed wax feedstock helps mitigate additional resource demands associated with wax production itself.

Beeswax vs Polyethylene Wax Candles

  • Source – Beeswax is 100% natural, produced by honey bees to build honeycomb. Polyethylene wax is synthetic, from polymerized petroleum-derived feedstocks.
  • Scent – Beeswax has a rich, sweet, honeyed aroma. Polyethylene has no discernible scent.
  • Burn Properties – Dense, slow-burning beeswax makes excellent candles on their own. Polyethylene must be blended with primary waxes at less than 10% to burn.
  • Appearance – Natural beeswax exhibits a warm yellow to brown hue. Polyethylene wax is an opaque white.
  • Price – Wholesale refined beeswax remains far pricier by the pound than commodity polyethylene wax.
  • Sustainability Concerns – As a renewable beekeeping byproduct, beeswax is considered very eco-friendly compared to polyethylene wax from fossil fuel sources.

Soy Wax vs Polyethylene Wax Candles

  • Source – Soy wax comes from soybean oil. Polyethylene originates from polymerized petroleum-derived feedstocks.
  • Scent – Soy wax holds a natural nutty aroma. Polyethylene has no discernible scent.
  • Burn Properties – Soy wax burns cleanly across the entire melt pool for even burns. Polyethylene must be blended with primary waxes at under 10% to burn properly.
  • Appearance – Soy wax looks off-white to yellow. Polyethylene is an opaque white.
  • Price – Inexpensive soy wax remains far cheaper than specialty polyethylene on a per-pound basis.
  • Sustainability Concerns – As a bio-based agro product, soy wax is considered very eco-friendly compared to polyethylene wax from fossil fuel sources.


Acting as inexpensive blending agents, polyethylene waxes allow candle makers to creatively adjust multiple qualities in their candle bases to achieve improved appearance, scent throw and burn properties. With full formulation control possible, candle crafting moves closer to the science of applying petroleum chemistry.


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