The Positive Impact of Microcrystalline Wax

Sweet Pea Candles

Microcrystalline wax refers to a class of hard petroleum-based waxes offering particular properties for candle making and other applications. Derived from crude oil refining and ozokerite coal wax, microcrystalline wax has been commercially used for over a century thanks to its versatile nature. Its source, characteristics, and uses make microcrystalline wax an important candle ingredient.

What is Microcrystalline Wax?

Microcrystalline wax encompasses a group of hard waxes containing saturated hydrocarbons and branched chain alkanes. Categories include ceresin wax from ozokerite and crystalline petroleum wax from crude oil refining. A very fine crystalline structure gives higher melting points, hardness, and viscosity than paraffin wax.

Where Does Microcrystalline Wax Come From?

As a petrochemical, microcrystalline wax originates from oil refineries and coal deposits globally, located near petroleum and ozokerite wax feedstock sources, including Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America. Abundant reserves ensure a steady commercial wax supply extracted during the oil refining process.

How is Microcrystalline Made?

Microcrystalline production utilizes acid treatment and solvent extraction techniques to isolate and recrystallize microfine wax particles from byproducts of crude oil refining, as well as ozokerite lignite wax. Controlled processing and filtration optimize wax crystal shape and size tailored for industrial uses like protective coatings, adhesives, and candles.

What are Microcrystalline Candles?

Serving key properties, microcrystalline wax makes excellent votive and pillar candles, along with wax blends. The very high melt point between 145°-200°F suits hand dipping and molding candles to build layered designs. As it solidifies, the fine-grain wax structure gives a smooth matte finish and flexibility for molded candle relief designs across various color options.

Is Microcrystalline Good for Candles?

With specialty characteristics, microcrystalline waxes serve candlemaking in several unique ways. Extremely high melt points make excellent hard waxes for molded and hand-dipped candles. Tight crystalline packing also enables intricate embossed relief designs to release easily from molds. Hot burning gives brighter illumination. The hardness provides structure to wax blends as well.

Benefits of Microcrystalline Candles

  • Structural Stability – Dense grain gives composite strength to candle blends.
  • Controlled Burn Rates – Tight wax crystals burn slowly and evenly.
  • Hot & Bright Flames – Strong capillary action pulls wax for hot, luminous burns.
  • Easy to Color – The refined wax accepts dyes and pigments readily.
  • Good Surface Adhesion – Microcrystalline evenly coats all candle mold surfaces.

Best Microcrystalline Wax for Candles

Seeking high-grade microcrystalline ensures purity and quality for candlemaking. Top commercial choices like Sonneborn and Strahl & Pitsch satisfy product standards meeting proper melting behavior, crystal size, and oil content for molded candle applications able to achieve intricate wax crafting designs.

Microcrystalline Candles DIY

Crafting microcrystalline candles requires wax, wicks, molds, dyes/pigments, and scent. Carefully melt wax 10+ degrees above the listed melt point before adding powdered colorants. Then pour into candle molds. Allow layers to be fully set up before gently unmolding intricate pieces. Now trim wicks before use. Cool candle surfaces before burning to maximize throw.

Why is Microcrystalline Used for Candles?

  1. Hard, Durable Wax – Dense grain makes incredibly long-lasting candle molds and dips.
  2. Controlled Burn Rates – Tight crystalline pack burns slowly, resisting hollow tunnels.
  3. Intense Luminosity – Strong capillary action feeds wax to the hot flame.
  4. Color Receptive – The pure refined wax accepts dyes readily without bleaching.
  5. Surface Adhesion – Microcrystalline smoothed into molds lifts out easily when cool.

How to Use Microcrystalline for Candles

Melt wax using the double boiler method 10+ degrees over the listed melt point, monitoring temperature closely when adding colorants and fragrance. Do not overheat. Allow the wax to briefly cool to 150°F before carefully pouring a thin stream into candle molds to minimize air bubbles. Let fully cure for 48 hours before gently unmolding candle pieces.

Why is Microcrystalline Expensive?

Microcrystalline wax

In addition to small batch production, intensive processing significantly influences microcrystalline wax pricing well above paraffin and vegetable waxes. As a refined petrochemical, sourcing feedstock and extensive filtration processes add costs. Price premiums reach 3-4 times that of Gulf or paraffin wax. Yet many candle makers value microcrystalline wax specialties.

Microcrystalline Candle Recipe

This simple brittle votive candle formula highlights versatile microcrystalline wax. Makes 12 votives.

  • 2 lb microcrystalline wax pellets
  • 1.5 oz powder dye (mix of colors)
  • 3 oz essential oil blend


Using a double boiler, melt the wax completely to 175°F, mixing thoroughly. Separate into pouring pitchers, adding different powder dyes to each. Then mix in oils. Carefully pour colors into votive molds. Cool fully before removing the candles.

Environmental Impact

As petroleum and coal industry derivatives, microcrystalline waxes ultimately bring negative environmental impacts including fossil fuel use, refining emissions, and resource depletion compared to bio-based waxes. Yet utilizing hydrocarbon byproduct streams flowing through existing infrastructure helps minimize impacts from additional resource extraction for wax feedstock.

Beeswax vs Microcrystalline Candles

  • Source – Beeswax is 100% natural, produced by honey bees to build honeycomb. Microcrystalline wax is petroleum-based from crude oil refining and coal deposits.
  • Scent – Beeswax has a floral, honey-like aroma. Microcrystalline wax has very little detectable scent.
  • Texture – Brittle beeswax needs to be blended with other waxes. Microcrystalline wax is hard, durable, and structural.
  • Burn Time – Dense beeswax makes exceptionally slow-burning candles. A tight microcrystalline pack also resists burning fast.
  • Sustainability – As a renewable beekeeping byproduct, beeswax is far more eco-friendly than non-renewable microcrystalline wax.

Soy Wax vs Microcrystalline Candles

  • Source – Soy wax comes from soybean oil. Microcrystalline wax comes from petroleum and coal refining processes.
  • Scent – Soy wax holds some light nutty/beany aroma. Microcrystalline wax has virtually no detectable scent.
  • Texture – Soy wax remains flexible and pliable for blending with other waxes. Microcrystalline wax forms a hard, structural support material.
  • Melt Point – Low melt point soy wax flows thinner at standard candle temps. Dense microcrystalline wax requires much hotter melting.
  • Price – Inexpensive commodity soy wax stays far cheaper by volume than pricey specialty microcrystallines.
  • Sustainability Concerns – As a bio-based wax, soy compares better eco-wise than petro-derived microcrystalline wax.


Microcrystalline waxes provide outstanding structural density and luminous burns to create premium hand-worked candles. However, petrochemical sourcing and processing concerns challenge the sustainability of this versatile group of mineral waxes. Process innovations to recycle refining byproduct streams help mitigate the largest impacts for now.


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