**Milkglass jar candles are temporarily unavailable with an expected restock in late summer**

Tips for Packing and Shipping Candles

This article was borne from a conversation I had with a brick-and-mortar partner struggling with the new reality of sending out online orders.  She's run her shop for nearly 15 years, but that experience centered on providing a fantastic in-person shopping experience.   

After years of packing and shipping thousands of candles, both for wholesale and retail orders, I realized that my background might be of help to stockists who are facing the steep learning curve of shipping these days.

Not all of this advice may suit your needs exactly, so please take what applies and discard whatever doesn't.  If you have any questions, please be in touch and I'll do my best to clarify the information below.  We're all in this together and I hope this explanation of how I ship Harmony Farm Candles orders helps in some way!

Thinking of you and your loved ones in this unparalleled time,
Erin Hils
Owner and Candlemaker
Harmony Farm Candles
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

In my experience, the fastest, most efficient and cost-effective way for small businesses to ship candles within the U.S. is to:

1) use Priority Mail services through the U.S. Postal Service
and
2) purchase shipping labels through a third-party, web-based shipping software service

Why Priority Mail?

It’s fast: Priority Mail offers 1-3 day service in the U.S. For often-fragile items like candles, the less time they’re in transit the better to ensure they arrive safely and intact to customers! 

Reliability: Right now while services like UPS and Fedex are adjusting their delivering time tables, the U.S. Postal Service is maintaining very reliable delivery schedules.

Free tracking and insurance: Tracking and insurance coverage of $100 is included for free when shipping labels are purchased through a third-party, web-based software service. Should a shipment arrive damaged, you can recoup the replacement cost by filing a claim online.

Convenient online features: You can reduce your potential exposure to COVID-19 and observe stay-at-home mandates by ordering free Priority Mail shipping boxes and having them delivered directly to your home or shop.  Secondly, at USPS.com you can schedule free pickups of your shipments with your regular mail service. Another way to not leave the house sounds good to me!

Versatile shipping options: There are three services within the umbrella of Priority Mail that I routinely use and recommend for different purposes: Cubic Rate, Regional Rate and Flat Rate.  I’ll go into these more in a moment!

 

What are third-party, web-based shipping software services and why should I use them?

USPS offers retail and commercial rates.  Retail is what you pay when you purchase a shipping label at the post office.  Commercial rates are lower than retail rates and are accessible only online and through third-party software services.  

Examples of these services are Stamps.com, Endicia and ShipStation.  However, all of these services require paid subscriptions to access the commercial rates. 

There are two low-cost or free third-party, web-based software sites I recommend for small businesses.

Pirateship

  • Completely free with no markups, fees or subscriptions required
  • Truly ideal for small businesses and what I use for shipping Harmony Farm Candles orders!

  • Offers Flat Rate, Regional Rate and Cubic Rate services
  • Easy-to-use (and humorous) interface

Shippo

  • Normally adds $.05 to the cost of each shipping label **currently Shippo is offering free services to small businesses**
  • Can upgrade account starting at $10/month for additional services
  • Ships via Flat Rate and Regional Rate services
  • Unclear if Cubic Rate service is presently available
  • Easy-to-use interface

 

So what are the Priority Mail services to use?

Cubic Rate 
This service offers deeply discounted rates for small, heavy packages.  This option is available to high-volume shippers (50,000 or more packages annually) but luckily it’s also accessible to small businesses like us through third-party, web-based software services.   

Priority Mail packages weighing less than 20 pounds and measuring less than .5 cubic feet volume (with no dimensions longer than 18 inches) qualify for cubic pricing.  And for small shipments of candles, it’s often the very best deal of all Priority Mail services!  

To calculate the cubic foot measurement of a package, multiply length x width x height and divide by 1728. All box measurements should be rounded down to the nearest .25 inch and no dimension (length, width or height) may exceed 18 inches.

Based on the cubic foot measurement, packages fall into one of five cubic rate pricing tiers:

  • Tier 1: up to .10 cubic feet
  • Tier 2: more than .10 cubic feet and up to .20 cubic feet
  • Tier 3: more than .20 cubic feet and up to .30 cubic feet
  • Tier 4: more than .30 cubic feet and up to .40 cubic feet
  • Tier 5: more than .40 cubic feet and up to .50 cubic feet

Anything over .50 cubic feet is too large to qualify for this service.

Once the size of the package is established, the rate is then determined by how far it’s travelling. 

USPS uses the term "zones" to describe the distance a domestic shipment must travel. Zones range from Zone 1 and 2 (local) to Zone 9 (very far away). A zone is determined by the "ship from" zipcode as it relates to the "ship to" zip code. The farther a package must travel, the more zones it crosses, and the more it costs to ship it.

To know which zone you’ll be shipping to, first create a zone chart for your business: https://postcalc.usps.com/DomesticZoneChart. Note the first three digits of the destination zip code and then see the zone number next to it. 

USPS CUBIC PRICING BY ZONE
FOR PACKAGES WEIGHING LESS THAN 20 LBS

Cubic Feet Range (up to)

0.1

0.2

0.3

0.4

0.5

Zone 1 and 2

$7.02

$7.46

$8.04

$8.21

$8.34

Zone 3

$7.35

$7.80

$8.26

$8.57

$8.84

Zone 4

$7.56

$8.02

$8.55

$8.93

$9.42

Zone 5

$7.80

$8.71

$9.65

$10.31

$11.15

Zone 6

$7.98

$9.00

$10.98

$12.78

$14.98

Zone 7

$8.15

$9.22

$11.58

$14.02

$16.89

Zone 8

$8.42

$9.56

$12.29

$16.02

$19.24

Zone 9

$11.40

$13.15

$19.12

$24.28

$29.88


With Cubic Rate, you can use any box that doesn’t have a single dimension of more than 18”. To stay below the .50 cubic foot limit, example dimensions of larger boxes would be 10”x10”x8” or 12”x12”x6”. 

I use Cubic Rate paired with the free Priority Mail Box - 4, which measures 7”x7”x6” and is a Tier 2 package, for retail candle orders. This box holds: 1-4 jelly jar candles, up to 8 travel tin candles, 1 zinc jar candle, 1 milkglass jar candle or 12 wax melts.

Other sized boxes can be purchased from suppliers and resources for those are listed below. 

Regional Rate
This cost-saving service is another great option for smaller but heavy boxes (up to 15 lbs. for A boxes and 20 lbs. for B boxes) and the price is dependent on how many zones the box is travelling.

Like Cubic Rate, Regional Rate is based on how far a package will travel. To refresh, USPS uses the term "zones" to describe the distance a domestic shipment must travel. Zones range from Zone 1 and 2 (local) to Zone 9 (very far away). A zone is determined by the "ship from" zipcode as it relates to the "ship to" zip code. The farther a package must travel, the more zones it crosses, and the more it costs to ship it.

To know which zone you’ll be shipping to, first create a zone chart for your business: https://postcalc.usps.com/DomesticZoneChart. Note the first three digits of the destination zip code and then see the zone number next to it.

Regional Rate offers:

  • A1 boxes (top loading) that measure 10”x7”x4-¾” and hold 6 jelly jar candles, 12 travel tin candles, 3 zinc jar candles or 1 milkglass jar 
  • B1 boxes (top loading) that measure 12”x10-¼”x5” and hold 12 jelly jar candles (when packed in a case), 24 travel tin candles, 6 zinc jar candles or 2 milkglass jar candles

Regional Rate prices are dependent upon the distance a box is travelling:

Boxes

Zone 1 & 2

Zone 3

Zone 4

Zone 5

Zone 6

Zone 7

Zone 8

Zone 9

A

$7.68

$7.92

$8.21

$8.92

$10.42

$11.13

$12.10

$18.69

B

$8.07

$8.51

$9.42

$11.53

$16.72

$19.21

$21.89

$34.38


Typically, I use Regional Rate to ship wholesale and retail orders up to zone 5.  Depending on how many items you need to fit in a given box, shipping to zones 6-9 is likely more cost effective via Flat Rate Priority Mail, which we’ll cover next.

Flat Rate
This service is one of the most well-known from the post office and you’re likely already familiar with it. No matter where these boxes ship within the U.S., the cost to ship is:

  • Small Box - retail: $8.30 | commercial: $7.65 - holds 3-4 wax melts
  • Medium Box - retail: $15.05 | commercial: $13.20 - holds 8 jelly jar candles or 4 zinc jar candles
  • Large Box - retail: $21.10 | commercial: $18.30 - holds 10 jelly jar candles or 6 zinc jar candles

I typically only use Flat Rate Priority Mail for wholesale shipments that are going to zones 7-9.  For retail orders, Cubic Rate and Regional Rate are your best bet depending on how many items you need to ship in a given box.

 

What are the best practices for packing candle orders?

The key here is to pack with enough protective materials around each candle!  

I re-use a lot of biodegradable cornstarch packing peanuts that I get in shipments from raw material and packaging suppliers.  When packing retail orders, I fill the shipping box most of the way with the peanuts and then nestle in the products.

When shipping Cubic Rate, I nestle in jelly, zinc and milkglass jar candles vertically and make sure there is at least half an inch of peanuts in and around them.  Don’t let hard surfaces touch each other! There should always be peanuts cushioning each item in the box.  This same technique can be used when shipping jelly and zinc jar candles in Regional Rate and Flat Rate boxes. 

When shipping travel tin candles, they stack nicely.  Two stacked travel tins are right around the same height and diameter as a jelly jar candle.  Be sure to either place a small square of bubble wrap or compressed peanuts between the stacked containers.  This prevents the lid of the bottom tin from being dented by the feet of the tin on top of it.

When shipping milkglass jar candles in Regional Rate or Flat Rate boxes, wrap them twice around with bubblewrap.  Then lay the candle horizontally in a bed of peanuts before covering it with more peanuts. 

Since wax melts are in plastic containers, they need less in-between packing materials.  The key to shipping them safely is making sure they’re stacked neatly and there is plenty of packing fill around them. 

I snapped photos of a few examples of how candles and melts are packed in the various recommended boxes for actual orders. A final top layer of packing peanuts was added to each of the boxes before they were sealed.


3 jelly jar candles and 2 wax melts in a Priority Mail Box 4


4 jelly jar candles in a Priority Mail Box 4


5 jelly jar candles in a Regional Rate A box

A milkglass candle and 6 jelly jar candles in a Regional Rate B box

 

If you’re shipping a lot of boxes, a tape dispenser makes life much easier.  From assembling the shipping boxes to sealing them, a tape dispenser allows these tasks to go more quickly.  

These are the shipping and packing materials I use and recommend:


Additional sources of shipping boxes include:

The long and the short of it  

I applaud you if you’ve made it this far!  Now, let’s put all of this information into an easy-to-follow process so you can begin shipping candles with more ease:

  • Create an account at USPS.com
  • Order free shipping boxes based on the services you anticipate using. I keep a stash of the following boxes:
  • Cubic RatePriority Rate Mail Box 4 ships up to 4 jelly jar candles, 8 travel tin candles, 1 zinc jar candle, 1 milkglass jar candle or 12 wax melts
  • Regional Rate- Regional Rate A1 ships up to 6 jelly jar candles, 12 travel tin candles, 3 zinc jar candles, 1 milkglass jar candle or 10 wax melts; Regional Rate B ships up to 12 jelly jar candles, 24 travel tin candles, 6 zinc jar candles, 2 milkglass jar candles or 20 wax melts
  • Flat RateSmall Flat Rate ships up to 4 wax melts; Medium Flat Rate ships up to 8 jelly jar candles, 16 travel tin candles, 6 zinc jars candles and 12 wax melts; Large Flat Rate ships up to 12 jelly jar candles (when packed in a case box), 24 travel tin candles, 6 zinc jar candles or 30 wax melts
  • Purchase any other boxes to suit your shipping needs
  • Order packing supplies as needed
  • Order blank shipping labels (you can also print labels onto computer paper, cut them out and affix to the shipping boxes with tape)
  • Create an account with Pirateship or Shippo
  • Purchase and print shipping labels via third-party service
  • Prepare and pack orders
  • Schedule free package pickup at USPS.com during your normal mail delivery to avoid unnecessary exposures when going to your local post office

Originally posted April 18, 2020; photos added May 2020

Hi there, I've got a comfy spot waiting just for you!

Join this colorful, cheerful community for new product info, cottage inspiration for your home and to be the first to know about Harmony Farm Candles promotions!