How to Use Sealing Wax
At the heart of a wax seal is the sealing wax it is made of. From form and function to flexibility and color, finding the right sealing wax for your project is one of the most important choices you’ll need to make for your wax seals!
So, how do you know what type is the right one? Does it matter what brand you buy? How do you use it properly?
This guide will show you how to find the right sealing wax for your project - even if you've never worked with it before!
Let's gets started!
What is Sealing Wax?
Sealing Wax is a mix of wax and resin that is designed to melt smoothly when heated and hold an impression when cooled – making it the perfect medium for wax seals!
What Are the Different Types of Sealing Wax?
Much like finding your favorite coffee – the brand and type you buy (think ground coffee vs. whole bean) will directly impact the taste in your cup. The same is true for sealing wax and wax seals!
At the most basic level, there are two different kinds of sealing wax:
- Traditional Sealing Wax will make wax seals that are breakable - meaning under pressure your seals will crack. This style of wax is used for crafting and sealing hand-delivered letters only.
- Flexible Sealing Wax will make flexible wax seals that are suited for wedding invitations, stationery, crafting, branding, packaging and mailing. We recommend this type of wax for 99% of all projects - especially if they will be sent through the mail!
Once you have chosen the right kind of sealing wax, you can choose between four different types/formats:
Traditional Sealing Wax Sticks:
Easily recognized by their square shape and tapered melting end, this type of wax comes both with or without a wick depending on the brand.
Photo by Faven Lettering
Made from the traditional sealing wax blend we explained above, this type of wax will crack or break under pressure as it has lots of oil in it and little-to-no resin (which is what makes flexible sealing wax flex). Just like the old-fashioned wax seals you've seen in movies, this style of wax was originally made to crack when opened, protecting important documents from unwanted eyes. While this was great when mail was hand-delivered, this style of wax will not hold up when sent through today's postal system.
We recommend saving this style of wax for crafting and hand-delivered letters only!
How to Use Traditional Sealing Wax Sticks
- Light your wax stick (or hold your lighter end up to the wickless wax stick)
- Tilt your wax stick, tapered-end down
- Allowing the wax to drip as it melts, create a small pool of sealing wax in the center of your envelope.
- Don’t hold your wax too close to the flame when melting – this will cause more soot to fall into your seals creating black streaks.
- If you are using a wickless wax stick – you can use the tapered end to spread your pool of wax into the desired shape.
- Just remember, the more uniform your circle of wax is, the more uniform your wax seal will be.
- This type of wax can get very hot – so many sure to be careful when handling!
Sealing Wax Beads:
For those of you who’ve fallen in love with the wax seal videos on Facebook and Instagram, you’re probably looking for Sealing Wax Beads!
The Quick Facts:
- Sealing wax beads can be made from traditional or flexible sealing wax depending on the brand you buy - which means your seals may break if you don't buy the right kind.
- If your beads are shaped (hearts, stars, hexagons, etc.) – there's a 99% chance they are made of traditional sealing wax and may be breakable.
- Best suited for smaller projects as this method takes quite a bit more time than others.
- Sealing Wax Beads are designed to use with a Sealing Wax Spoon and candle, or a melting pot.
As this type of wax takes longer than the next two options, we recommend this for crafting, snail mail and smaller projects – including mailing (if you use our wax beads).
How to Use Sealing Wax Beads
Add 2 wax beads to your spoon and place over an open flame allowing the wax to melt gently.
Once the wax is melted, carefully pour the hot wax onto your envelope.
Press your stamp into the hot wax and leave for 10-15 seconds. Once cooled slightly, remove gently.
- If your wax is bubbling or smoking, simply lift the spoon away from the flame a touch.
- Start with 2 wax beads in your spoon to get the process started.
- If you are having a hard time pouring your wax out of the spoon (it’s still too thick), your wax is likely not hot enough. If this happens, try:
- Using a bigger candle. The larger the flame, the more heat will transfer to your spoon and wax!
- For best results, make sure you are using a solid brass spoon.
Glue Gun Sealing Wax
If you are making wax seals yourself, this is THE best option!
- Quick and easy to use
- Our flexible wax format means safe mailing for your wax seals
- This method will save you tons of time (this is the fastest DIY method other than premade wax seals!)
Glue Gun Sealing Wax was created to make it easier for stationery designers and professionals to use wax seals for their business – but is perfect for brides, crafters and DIY addicts too!
Created in the largest selection of colors available, Glue Gun Sealing Wax is THE #1 choice of stationers, brides, and companies like ours who want beautiful wax seals!
How to Use Glue Gun Sealing Wax
Add one stick of Glue Gun Sealing Wax to your Sealing Wax Gun (or glue gun) and allow to heat up.
Once the wax is hot, gently squeeze the trigger to pour the wax onto your envelope. Use a second stick to help push the first through the chamber as needed.
Press your stamp into the hot wax and leave for 10-15 seconds. Once cooled slightly, remove gently.
- Place a silicone mat under your Sealing Wax Gun as it heats up (and in between seals) to catch any dripping wax.
- Use a separate Sealing Wax Gun (or glue gun) for each color of wax
- Use a low-temp glue gun or dual temp glue gun only. Avoid high temp.
- A 1” wax seal will take 1-1.5 pulls of the trigger depending on how much “edge” you like around your seals.
- If you do not have a Sealing Wax Gun or Glue Gun handy – you can cut our sticks up and melt them over an open flame with a spoon as well.
Premade Wax Seals:
Did you know that there is an easier way to make wax seals without having to know ANYTHING about sealing wax at all?
Individually pressed into real sealing wax and finished with an adhesive backing, premade wax seals are created with your choice of color, design and adhesive.
The best part? Once they arrive, all you need to do is remove the backing to expose the adhesive underneath and add the seal to your project!
We recommend premade wax seals for 99% of all projects – especially if you are tight on time or are looking to make large numbers of seals all at once. Our Professional Grade Wax Seals are also the most recommended option for wedding invitations and stationery.
How to Use Premade Wax Seals
Remove the adhesive backing from your seal.
Apply it to your project.
- For the strongest hold, choose Professional Grade Wax Seals
- If you are working with a delicate surface such as tissue paper, vellum or mirrors and don’t want to damage the material you are working with, Resealable Wax Seals are a great option for you!
- If you are mailing your wax seals – make sure to read our How to Mail Wax Seals guide.
Is All Sealing Wax The Same?
If there is one thing you take away from this article, let this be it:
All sealing wax is NOT created equal.
We are extremely passionate about this topic because the wax you use will affect your wax seals so much! The quality of your sealing wax (and other tools) directly affects how good your seals look and how you can use them!
While all wax may look pretty much the same online, it does not act the same! Depending on the blend of wax the way your wax behaves will change entirely!
When we created our signature sealing wax, we tested every brand on the market and found that while they may look similar at first glance, the wax (and the seals they create) are VASTLY different! But don't worry - we're here to help you find the right one for your project!
In case you're visual (like we are), Lisa from Pretty Fabulous Designs created a great video showing the difference of sealing wax in action!
What to Look for When Buying Sealing Wax
“If finding the right wax is so important – how do I know what to look for?”
Ordering samples is always the best way to know whether sealing wax is going to work for you! That way you can test how flexible the wax is (which is important if you will be mailing your seals), the quality (look and feel) and the color!
But, if you don’t have time to order samples, here are 6 things to look for:
How Much Sealing Wax Do I Need?
In our opinion, there is no such thing as too much sealing wax – but there IS such thing as not enough!
Imagine having 10 more wedding invitations to go and realizing that you are 2 sticks of wax short – it’s THE WORST!
To help you figure out how much wax you need, we’ve created a Sealing Wax Calculator that will tell you how many Glue Gun Sealing Wax Sticks you need for your project! This calculator is available below as well as on all our sealing wax product pages
Click here to use the calculator
- Pro Tip #1: The standard 1” wax seal will take ~1-1.5 trigger pulls of your Sealing Wax Gun
- Pro Tip #2: If you love seals made with LOTS of wax, make sure to add a few extra sticks to your order so you have enough!
- Pro Tip #3: Always add a few extra sticks for practicing - especially if this is your first time making wax seals.
- Pro Tip #4: If you are working with multiple colors – having a Sealing Wax Gun for each color will be a total game changer!
If you are working with our Sealing Wax Beads – each bead will make a 1” wax seal – though we recommend starting with 2 in your spoon to get things going!
If you are working with traditional sealing wax sticks – the number of seals you will need will depend directly on the brand you buy, but most brands will make 7-10 1” wax seals per stick.
What Do I Need To Use Sealing Wax?
Like we said earlier, having the right tools is almost as important and choosing the right sealing wax.
So, what will you need?
Your Wax Seal Toolkit Should Include:
- Wax Stamp
- Sealing Wax
- Heat Source
- Low-Temp or Dual Temp Sealing Wax Gun (recommended)
- Wax Spoon + Candle (ideal for sealing wax beads)
- Lighter (if you are using traditional sealing wax sticks)
- Microfiber Cloth
- Adhesive Backings
- Silicone Mat
For more tips and tricks on stamping technique before your get started, click here for our guide on How to Make A Wax Seal.
How Do I Keep My Wax from Sticking?
If your wax is sticking to your stamp, use this checklist to troubleshoot the problem and find your solution!
- MAKE SURE TO CHILL YOUR STAMP ON ICE!
- What are you using to melt your wax?
- If you are using Glue Gun Sealing Wax, make sure you are using a Sealing Wax Gun or low-temp Glue Gun!
- If you are using Sealing Wax Beads, make sure you are using a brass spoon!
- Are your tools plugged in and working properly?
- If your wax is bubbling or smoking - if so, it is likely too hot!
- If you are having a hard time pouring your wax onto your envelope, your wax may be too cold. Make sure you are using a sufficient heat source!
- What is your wax stamp made of?
- Solid brass is the best material for preventing your wax from sticking
- Other types of wax stamps (coated alloy, aluminum, etc.) will not conduct heat as well as brass – meaning your wax may stick.
How Do I Switch Colors in My Glue Gun?
You’ve decided to work with multiple wax colors (woohoo!) but you only have 1 wax gun . . . now what do you do?
While we always recommend whenever possible having a separate wax gun for each color, we know that’s not always feasible.
Here are our recommended tips on how to switch wax colors in a glue gun:
- Bring your wax gun to temperature
- Once your wax is melted, use sticks of your new color and push them through onto a disposable surface or silicone mat.
- It will take ~2-3 sticks of your new color to clean the original color out of the chamber. This can sometimes take more or less depending on the specific colors you are using.
- Use clear glue sticks to save yourself from wasting your new wax color. It will still take some time to clear out the glue from the chamber, but it should only take 1 stick vs. 3 with the other method!
- Swapping colors will often create marbled wax – instead of wasting this wax by disposing of it, this is a great opportunity to make a few “thank you” or just because seals for future projects or notes! For adhesive backings, click here.
What Color Should I Choose?
Now that you know what wax to choose and how to use it - it’s time to find the perfect color!
To help you pick the perfect color we’ve partnered with 4 of our top stationery designers to create distinct color stories to inspire your wax seals, so whether you are looking for a classic metallic, a soft pastel or one of our seasonal shades – click the series that suits your style... then don't forget to order color samples to make your final selection!
While it’s not required to order swatches before placing your order, we always recommend doing so whenever possible as color will vary between monitors.
The Wrap Up
Now that you’ve learned the ins and outs of Sealing Wax, you’re ready to go and Make The Perfect Wax Seal!
The Artisaire Team