Back in the day, wax seals were used in place of a signature to authenticate a letter/document, and ensure that they haven't been tampered with during transport. Each person, who was able to, had a unique design associated with them, whether it included a family crest or some special symbols. Today, the use of wax seals has taken a modern twist. Although the original purpose of wax seals has now been rendered completely unnecessary, we still love to incorporate this tradition into our snail mail, wedding invitations, greeting cards to add a bit of personal touch to our communications; Not only that, it's just so #oddlysatisfying to watch!
In the past month or so, I have compiled a list of frequently asked questions about wax seals - from essential supplies, to how I make those cool creative wax seal videos. Hopefully the following Q&A will help you guys out, but feel free to comment below for questions that are not listed here, I would be happy to help answer them!
- What are the essential tools?
- How do I take my wax sealing to the next level?
- How do I make marble seals?
- How to clean the melting spoon?
- Have you experienced differences in wax quality from different sources?
- How do you cut wax into tiny pieces?
- How do I make a lot of wax seals in one go before the envelopes are ready?
- Could I use baking paper and then peel them off? Is there an alternative method?
- Is there a difference between candle wax vs. wax seal wax?
- How do I get rid of the soot at the bottom of spoons?
- Are there type of paper to pour wax seals on? How do you get the paper to not curl after you do the seal?
- How long do you wait between pouring the wax, placing the stamp, and taking the stamp off?
- How long to melt the wax for to prevent it from overheating but at the same time not solid.
- Is there a way I can not hold the spoon while the wax melts?
- Will my wax seals make it through the post?
1. What are the essential tools?
There are several ways to go about wax sealing. You can melt the wax by cutting up chunks of it and placing it in a melting spoon over a tealight candle, or light up a wicked wax stick and drip it over paper, or use a glue gun. My preferred way of wax sealing is the first - with a spoon!
- Stamper - of course :)
- Wax - There are a few types as I have mentioned above: granules, sticks with wicks, sticks without wick, and glue gun wax sticks. This is completely based on preference, unless of course you choose to use the glue gun, then glue gun wax sticks are a must because you need to ensure they fit
- Melting spoon - I personally carry a couple of them on-hand to reduce the number of times I have to clean each spoon. I think I have more than 5 now (you definitely don't need THAT many though!).
- Tealight candle - You will need some sort of access to candle/lighter to heat up the wax. I like to use tealight candles because they're small and portable
- Scissors or a small knife - It'll be useful to keep a pair of scissors or a small knife around in case you want to cut up your wax into chunks. I personally don't care which type of wax I have (granules, sticks with wick, sticks without wick, glue gun sticks) because I end up chopping them up into preferred chunks anyway. Just make sure if you're cutting up the ones with wicks that you remove the wick before melting the wax in with the rest.
- Where to start for beginners? Where to buy them?
- For beginners who want to dabble in the world of wax sealing, you don't need to invest in expensive wax or stampers right off the bat. There are a lot of options available on Amazon, eBay and AliExpress. Stampers range from $5-10 and wax from $1-5, and there are a ton of designs and colors available for you to choose from. The only downside is that you may need to wait several weeks for these items to arrive in your mailbox. However, if you're just starting out anyway, it's worth the wait. The 3 things I would suggest a beginner to buy off these sites are: 1) stamper, 2) wax and 3) melting spoon. The remaining tools such as tealight candle and scissors can easily be found in local stores or in your home.
2. How do I take my wax sealing to the next level?
(Click each heading for a sample video)
- Glitter - Galaxy seal; Here I sprinkled a bit of glitter to melted wax as soon as I've poured it and before stamping, just to give it some bling. And I thought it'd add a nice touch as "stars" in this galaxy seal
- Embossing powder - Something new I experimented with, but I need some work here to make sure the embossing powder actually melts enough. The problem is if it doesn't melt, it will make your wax seal look grainy
- Parchment paper - This is a good way to make wax seal adhesives, because they'll come right off the parchment paper after it cools down
- Blank seal - Here I've used a blank seal to make thin sheets of wax which I use as decorative pieces for other seals. Specifically, use a blank stamper to stamp out a thin sheet of wax and use scissors to cut out a design! Alternatively you can use a blank seal to stamp cool looking marble designs if you don’t want a distracting engraving
- Pearlescent powder - my favourite is Pearl Ex powder. I almost always use this as a finishing touch to my designs just to highlight the engravings. I usually use silver.
- Metallic marker (or chrome marker) - Also another way to add a finishing touch to highlight the engravings/design of the seal. I use crayola metallic marker, but any other metallic marker would do, acrylic markers are recommended.
- Paper clip, toothpick - I use paper clips and toothpicks for two reasons. First is to check the consistency of the wax while it's melting to see if it's ready to be poured, and second to make cool latte seals like this
3. How do I make marble seals?
Making marbled wax seals is easy as long as you have two different colors. I usually cut up mine into granules and then put them in a melting spoon over a candle to melt. You can experiment with different types of pouring such as pouring right in the middle, or in a circular motion. Each time is a different result!
4. How to clean the melting spoon?
While the spoon is still hot and the wax residue is soft, I usually use a few layers of paper towel to wipe the inside of the spoon clean by swirling it around as I push the paper towel into spoon. All the wax should be easily removed using this method, and you might want to reheat the spoon a bit if your wax starts to harden. Be careful to make sure you don't accidentally burn your fingers!
5. Have you experienced differences in wax quality from different sources?
I have used a variety of sealing wax from a variety of places, so I will only speak for those places that I have tried, which include: eBay, GetMarked, and Waxseals. GetMarked and Waxseals both have very good quality sealing wax, which are available in an array of different colors. Waxseals wax is especially velvety, pearlescent and luxe. eBay is also an amazing place but sometimes it can be a hit or miss. I generally go for the wax sticks as opposed to the granules because I can usually get a few more uses out of the sticks and can cut them up myself rather easily. I'm indifferent between the wicked or non-wicked sticks as well as wax sticks for glue guns, because I cut them up all the same :) If you're looking into eBay, I recommend these listings (click the links): Listing 1, Listing 2, Listing 3, Listing 4.
6. How do you cut wax into tiny pieces?
I use a pair of scissors or a small knife to cut wax. Be VERY careful when using scissors to not apply too much pressure. Make sure to go slow and easy. Same goes for using a small knife. Cut the wax similar to how you would cut vegetables on a chopping board. Alternatively if this is too difficult, simply melt the wax stick with a spoon over the candle by rubbing the stick inside the heated spoon.
7. How do I make a lot of wax seals in one go before the envelopes are ready?
If you are preparing wax seals or adhesives for wedding invitations and have to make, say 100 or 200 of them, then I would suggest buying a few stamps of the same design (maybe 3-5) so you can work more efficiently. Working in a conveyor belt fashion, you can use a glue gun to assist, melt and stamp, one after the other. By the time you circle back to your first stamp, it should have hardened and ready to be peeled off. Then repeat.
8. Could I use baking paper and then peel them off? Is there an alternative method?
You can absolutely use this method to make wax seal adhesives, and I recommend using parchment paper; Wax paper isn't the same as parchment paper and is harder to peel off. Alternative method is to use a marble countertop if you have one, the wax should be fairly easy to peel off as well. After the wax seal is made, simply use a double-sided adhesive (3M brand is good) or balloon glue dots at the back, and you're good to go!
9. Is there a difference between candle wax vs. wax seal wax?
There is a big difference between using candle wax and sealing wax because the ingredients in each are different. It is not recommended to use candle wax because it easily crumbles and will not stick to the paper well.
10. How do I get rid of the soot at the bottom of spoons?
Overheating the spoons may cause soot to collect at the bottom. Similar to how you would clean wax off of a spoon, use the same method to remove soot as well - with paper towels. If this is ineffective, wait until the spoon is cooled, and scrub it off with some baking soda.
11. Are there type of paper to pour wax seals on? How do you get the paper to not curl after you do the seal?
Generally thicker paper will be less likely to curl under hot wax. If you are worried about paper getting deformed, making the seal separately on parchment paper and then using a double-sided adhesive to stick it on the desired area is a great alternative.
12. How long do you wait between pouring the wax, placing the stamp, and taking the stamp off?
How long to wait between the pour and stamping depends on a variety of things, such as how cold it is where you're at. Of course, if you live in a cold environment, your wax will cool much faster as someone in a warmer climate. I have personally never timed myself when wax sealing but I generally wait only a couple seconds, as long as it takes for me to put my spoon down and pick up my stamper. I almost immediately stamp it. It is largely a trial and error process, and there are really no rules around it, have fun and try it out to see what works for you!
13. How long to melt the wax for to prevent it from overheating but at the same time not solid.
I almost always have a paper clip with me to poke at the melted wax before I start pouring. The general rule of thumb is: if the wax starts bubbling, it's overheated. As soon as I see the first sign of a bubble forming, I know my wax is completely melted. Also if you have large chunks of unmelted wax floating at the top while the rest is melted, use a paper clip to sink it to the bottom so it melts faster. The reason why we want to prevent wax from overheating is because it forms bubbles inside, and causes the wax to be too liquidy. When you pour very liquidy wax, it tends to pool all over the envelope rather than in place.
14. Is there a way I can not hold the spoon while the wax melts?
My wax sealing set up usually consists of a small box/container and a heavy ink bottle. I put the spoon handle in between the box and the ink bottle, just high enough to fit a candle under the spoon. This way, no holding is involved! Find whatever is available in your house, and experiment with heights, you'll definitely find a setup that works for you!
15. Will my wax seals make it through the post?
YES! I have heard so many horror stories about wax seals have gone missing but I have personally never had a problem with that. First, I use non-shimmery paper for envelopes, because pearlescent paper tends to be too smooth and wax seals can be easily peeled off of it. Second, if I really want to make sure my wax seals stay put, I either put it in a second envelope, rigid mailer or a cellophane clear bag. Keep in mind that if you're using the cellophane bag, make sure the stamp is on the outside because the post needs to have some way of marking the stamp as used. Third, use high quality sealing wax that will not crumble. I generally do a test run of all the new wax that I buy, by making one on an envelope and the folding it to see if it will break or come off.
* * *
Services I Offer
I also get a lot of questions about whether I make wax seals. I am personally not a manufacturer of wax seals, so this means I don't do the laser engravings myself. I do, however, carry a line of wax seals that I have designed on my website in the Shop section. I also offer custom wax seal design services for those who want a monogram for their wedding invitations.
For more information, please visit jwlettering.com/shop or email me at email@example.com
* * *
Other great resources for wax seals
Two great sources of information to find out more about wax seals:
- How to Use Sealing Waxes by Letterseals.com
- Wax Seals 2.0 - A Guide by guest writer Myriam (@halfapx); via Peggy Dean's blog ThePigeonLetters.com
* * *
If you have other questions that I have not answered, feel free to comment below, I will get back to you with an answer shortly! All the best in your wax seal endeavours :)