When we started Keap we knew we wanted to make the best possible candles, and that we wanted to learn by doing. Since then we've hand-poured every candle (see our previous piece here). This week is the start of a new era: we invested in our first piece of high-tech equipment into our Brooklyn-based studio. We're so excited, and here we explain why!
What does the equipment do?
The machine is a wax pumper—nicknamed appropriately "Icarus"—and does two things really well: firstly it blends wax and fragrances together in perfect ratios, and secondly it pours a consistent amount of wax every time from a handheld spout.
In practical terms it looks like a small ice-cream cart with a hosepipe attached for pouring. It possesses a large wax-melting vestibule, and two pumps which feed into the pouring hose—one for the wax, and one for the scent.
Why the change?
Learning to make candles has taught us what's important: blending together the best possible wax, fragrances, wicks and a container. Getting these critical elements right, and then giving each candle individual human attention is what guarantees a great candle. While there was something romantic about pouring from pitchers, there was no functional benefit versus pouring from a hose.
However there were drawbacks, namely more variability in pour temperature, pour size and in fragrance measurements, not mentioning the time to clean up frequent spills. Icarus gives us more control and more time to pay attention to other details of the candle.
The new machine blends wax and fragrance in perfect ratios and improves the consistency of the scent in each of our candles. Further, by pouring consistently and quickly Icarus helps us free up time to focus on everything from formulating new waxes, to inspecting the quality of our final product and adding finishing touches.
So are the candles still 'hand-poured'?
Yes. Each candle is still poured by one of us, using our hands. The difference is, where before we used a jug and whisk, we now use Icarus’ spout.
That said, when people hear "Hand-poured" they likely do not imagine Icarus being involved—dials, pumps, hose pipe and all! As a result we're moving away from saying our candles are "Hand-poured". We'll be updating our artwork when we re-order (and website as of today) to say "Made by humans in Brooklyn". Every step in our process—from the wicking, label-sticking, to the shipping and hand-written notes—is still done by one of us with huge pride. We’re proud to make the best possible candles and use the best tools available to do that.