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Make Your Own Candles in 9 Easy Steps

Updated on November 30, 2014
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Simple Instructions for Making Nontoxic Candles at Home

Making your own candles is a surprisingly simple process! By following the instructions in this article, you'll be able to create inexpensive, nontoxic container candles to use yourself or give as gifts to others.

Some candle-making directions are unnecessarily complicated. Most directions also suggest that you'll need a lot of specialized -- and sometimes expensive -- equipment in order to make candles at home.

The truth is that you can create your own candles with very little expense using basic equipment.

Supplies Needed for Homemade Candles

You don't need a lot of fancy equipment to make candles at home. Here is a list of the bare basics plus a couple of helpful -- but optional -- items.

  1. Wax
  2. Wicks
  3. Containers (to pour wax into to make the candles)
  4. Saucepan
  5. Metal Pitcher (optional)
  6. Wooden or Other Sticks (to position the wicks)
  7. Wooden Stirring Spoon or Stick
  8. Glue Gun (optional)
  9. Essential Oil (optional)
  10. Wire Cutters (optional)

Wax and Wicks

The only items on the list of supplies above that must be purchased new are the wax and wicks!

The products below are the ones that I myself use:

Wax

Milliard All Natural Soy Wax 324, 10 lb. Bag
Milliard All Natural Soy Wax 324, 10 lb. Bag

Wax: 10 pounds of wax will yield approximately 50-60 medium-sized candles, such as those pictured in this article. My wax of choice is soy, though palm wax (more expensive) is also good for making container candles. (You can purchase wax flakes in smaller or larger amounts.)

 

Wicks

CandleScience 50 Piece Natural Candle Wick, Medium
CandleScience 50 Piece Natural Candle Wick, Medium

Wicks: The medium size works fine for most candles. Use small wicks if you’re pouring into a container with a small diameter – less than 1.5 inches. Large wicks are appropriate for diameters greater than 4 inches.

 
Source
Use a Saucepan or Pitcher to Melt Wax
Use a Saucepan or Pitcher to Melt Wax

The Saucepan and/or Pitcher for Making Wax Candles

No need to spend big bucks here!

In order to melt the wax, you'll need a saucepan -- preferably a good, heavy one. Ideally, the saucepan will have a small "pouring lip" built into the rim. Alternatively, you can create a double-boiler by placing a metal pitcher containing the wax inside a saucepan with water.

Using only a saucepan is a simpler setup; it's easier to stir the wax and add fragrance. The pitcher method, though, has the great benefit of allowing you to pour the melted wax into the candle container much more easily, creating less mess and waste in the process.

Check thrift shops and garage sales for saucepans and pitchers. They don’t need to be pretty; they just need to do the job! Remember, these items must never be used for food or water once they have been used to make candles! The wax that remains on the containers would pose a health hazard if ingested!

9 Steps to Make Your Own Candles

In this article are the 9 steps I use when making candles at home.

I typically make 8-12 candles at a time, since this project is better done in bulk than as singles.

I'll melt approximately 1-2 cups of wax flakes at a time, melting more as necessary over the course of the project.

Optional But Helpful Tools for Candlemaking

There are two tools that are not essential for making candles but do make the job a lot easier. Neither the glue gun nor the wire cutters are very expensive, and they are well worth the investment -- both for candle-making and other projects.

Wire Cutters

Stanley 84-105 6-Inch Diagonal Cutting Plier
Stanley 84-105 6-Inch Diagonal Cutting Plier

Regular scissors have a hard time trimming the candle wicks. A wire cutter does the job quite nicely and makes this job much easier!

 

Glue Gun

Surebonder GM-160 Mini High Temperature Glue Gun, 10-watt
Surebonder GM-160 Mini High Temperature Glue Gun, 10-watt

A glue gun helps to hold the candle wicks in place at the bottom of the container. I just use a basic, no-frills glue gun. Make sure you have glue sticks for the glue gun!

 

1) Prepare the Workspace

Candle Making Supplies
Candle Making Supplies

Lay old newspapers down on your workspace. Wax will drip when being poured into the containers, even if you're being very careful!

2) Place the Candle Wick

Keep the wick centered so that the finished candle will burn more evenly.
Keep the wick centered so that the finished candle will burn more evenly.

Place wicks in containers. While not essential, using a glue gun to secure the wick to the bottom of the container makes the process easier. Make sure the glue is dry before pouring the wax. If you glue the wick before starting to melt the wax, it should be fine.

The wick should be centered in the bottom of the container to help the candle to burn evenly all around.

Candles make wonderful, inexpensive homemade gifts!

3) Melt the Wax -- click each picture for more information

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Place wax (a cup or two of flakes) into the saucepan or metal pitcher. If using a pitcher, set the pitcher in a saucepan containing water.GENTLY heat the saucepan over low heat.Mix the wax around occasionally with a wooden chopstick or spoon.It takes less than 10 minutes for the wax to completely melt and become clear liquid.Don't worry about monitoring the temperature of the wax; just allow it to gently melt over low heat.Once the wax melts to a clear liquid, remove it from the heat.
Place wax (a cup or two of flakes) into the saucepan or metal pitcher. If using a pitcher, set the pitcher in a saucepan containing water.
Place wax (a cup or two of flakes) into the saucepan or metal pitcher. If using a pitcher, set the pitcher in a saucepan containing water.
GENTLY heat the saucepan over low heat.
GENTLY heat the saucepan over low heat.
Mix the wax around occasionally with a wooden chopstick or spoon.
Mix the wax around occasionally with a wooden chopstick or spoon.
It takes less than 10 minutes for the wax to completely melt and become clear liquid.
It takes less than 10 minutes for the wax to completely melt and become clear liquid.
Don't worry about monitoring the temperature of the wax; just allow it to gently melt over low heat.
Don't worry about monitoring the temperature of the wax; just allow it to gently melt over low heat.
Once the wax melts to a clear liquid, remove it from the heat.
Once the wax melts to a clear liquid, remove it from the heat.

WARNING

None of the equipment used to make candles should ever be used for food! This includes the saucepan, pitcher, containers, chopsticks, and anything else used in the process!

4) Add Essential Oil for Scented Candles (Optional!)

Allow wax to sit without heat for a minute or two, then add essential oil to create a scented candle, if desired. Use approximately 2-3 teaspoons for a medium-sized candle. It's better to use too much oil than not enough, since an insufficient amount of oil means the candle won't emit a fragrance when burned. The amount of essential oil required depends on the size of the candle as well as on the strength of the oil.

Essential Oils for Scented Candles

Essential oils are natural, nontoxic, and potent. Fragrance oils are less expensive but often contain toxic materials. Therefore, I recommend only using essential oils to create scented candles.

There are many different essential oils that can be used to add fragrance to candles. Here are just a few: Lavender is often used to create a soothing mood, while the aroma of grapefruit invigorates us with energy. Cinnamon has a warm, comforting scent.

If you are planning to light the candles at the dining table, they should be unscented. Otherwise, the smell from the candles interferes with the fragrance of the meal, disrupting and confusing an important part of the dining experience.

Plant Therapy Cinnamon Cassia Essential Oil. 100% Pure, Undiluted, Therapeutic Grade. 10 ml (1/3 oz).
Plant Therapy Cinnamon Cassia Essential Oil. 100% Pure, Undiluted, Therapeutic Grade. 10 ml (1/3 oz).

Cinnamon has a warm, comforting scent. Other scents create different moods.

Only use essential oils for making scented candles, as they are natural and nontoxic.

 

Colored Candles

Because there is no way to color candles using 100% nontoxic materials, I do not recommend making colored candles. Instead, use beautiful and/or interesting containers to make the candles visually appealing.

5) Pour the Wax into Containers

Let the melted wax sit a couple of minutes, then pour into the containers. (If you've added essential oil, you can pour the wax right after that.) Try to keep the wicks centered in the containers, with the base planted at the bottom of the container. You may use a wooden chopstick to assist with keeping the wick in place.

Pouring the wax is much easier and neater from a pitcher than a saucepan!

Teacup Candle
Teacup Candle

Containers

Sure, you can purchase candle containers from Amazon, but you can easily find inexpensive containers at yard sales or thrift stores.

Look for empty candle containers, teacups, thick glass bowls, or other interesting containers that can withstand flame, heat, and melted wax.

Teacups and saucers make interesting candle sets that can be elegant or fun!

You can even re-use glass or ceramic containers you have at home! I usually find containers at the thrift store for $0.25-$2 each.

6) Keep the Wicks in Place

Use wooden chopsticks or other objects to position the wicks as straight and vertical as possible once the wax has been poured. This helps to ensure that the candles will burn more evenly.

7) Fill in Any Holes

As the wax hardens in the containers, look for any small holes that may form in the wax at the top of the candle. Pour some additional melted wax, if necessary, to "fill in the potholes." (These holes only occur some of the time.)

8) Let the Candles Set

Allow the candles to harden overnight. Scrape off any wax drippings from the outside of the containers.

9) Trim the Wicks

Cut the wicks to 1/4-inch high. Wire cutters work very well for this job!

Note: The wicks I use come in 6-inch lengths, so the wax can be as deep as 5-3/4 inches.

Pouring wax into a container
Pouring wax into a container

How Much Does It Cost to Make Your Own Candles?

Wax: I estimate that a 10-pound bag of soy wax flakes is enough to make at least 50 medium-sized candles. I'm probably being cautions in this estimate; it wouldn't surprise me if it's enough to make 60 candles. Assuming 50 candles, though, this comes to approximately $0.63 in wax per candle.

Wicks: I purchase the wicks that come ready-to-use with the wick already coated with soy wax and attached to the base. These cost about $0.18 per wick.

Containers: I usually pay anywhere from $0.25 to $2 per container at the thrift store. Containers can be reused! Once the candle burns all the way down, scrape out the remaining wax, clean the container, and pour in new wax!

Total: $0.98 - $2.72 per medium-sized candle.

Essential Oil: Most of my candles are fragrance-free, but I do like to use scented candles for some occasions. Adding essential oil increases the cost of each candle by a couple of dollars or so, depending on the exact price of the oil used and the size of the candle.

(These estimates do not include the cost of the saucepan or other "permanent" equipment.)

Why I Like Making My Own Candles

I truly enjoy the experience of making my own candles at home. It feels extra-special when I use candles I've made myself. More importantly, these candles do not contain the toxic materials found in standard paraffin wax candles, candles that use colorants, or candles with fragrance oils instead of essential oils.

Soy-based candles burn much more cleanly; there is a noticeable difference when you compare them to paraffin wax candles.

In addition to using clean, nontoxic candles, I am also very happy to save a lot of money by using homemade candles! My candles cost only about a dollar or two to make, and the process of making them is so simple that there is no reason not make my own candles!

I also enjoy giving them as gifts. They are easy and inexpensive to make but make a lovely and meaningful presentation for any occasion!

Shed Some Light on the Subject!

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    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 

      4 years ago

      Like so many of the comments above, I really like the photos you have here on this instructional page about how to make candles. Now I need to learn to cut the top off of wine bottles to use them for my own projects.

    • Valerie Bloom profile imageAUTHOR

      Valerie Bloom 

      4 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      @andreea22: Oh, that's great! The more you use candles, the more cost-effective to make them yourself. You could easily make a couple dozen in an afternoon and be set for quite a while!

    • andreea22 profile image

      andreea22 

      4 years ago

      I light candles every day and I think it'd be nice making them by myself. Thank you for this amazing tutorial, I am going to try it.

    • Valerie Bloom profile imageAUTHOR

      Valerie Bloom 

      4 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      @sousababy: Thanks! I think the tea cups add something a little magical. I enjoy how it can make the candles appear classy or whimsical, depending on the design. Cheers!

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 

      4 years ago

      I guess I'm not alone in loving the tea cup idea. And I've always wanted to make soy-based candles. Thanks for an excellent tutorial.

      Wishing you and yours all the best for 2014!

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 

      5 years ago from GRENADA

      Excellent candle making lens, vegival! I really loved the 'teacup & saucer' candles. Very elegant indeed!

    • Valerie Bloom profile imageAUTHOR

      Valerie Bloom 

      5 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      @Diana Wenzel: What a great idea for candle containers! I'm sure your candles will look amazing!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      5 years ago from Colorado

      Fantastic pictorial. I've been wanting to make some candles. Now I feel confident and enthusiastic about getting started. Love your use of the teacups. I pick up a lot of glass bottles (litter left by others) on my daily walks. I could use a glass cutter to make these into colorful candle holders (some are the most gorgeous shade of cobalt blue). It would feel great to recycle and repurpose that glass rather than seeing it in a ditch or broken all over the road.

    • Valerie Bloom profile imageAUTHOR

      Valerie Bloom 

      5 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      @pjsart: I was floored when I first saw candles in old teacups! Thanks for stopping by!

    • pjsart profile image

      pjsart 

      5 years ago

      Love the teacup idea...will be raiding the thrift stores. These will make great gifts, thanks for a wonderful lens

    • toshia lm profile image

      toshia lm 

      5 years ago

      nice lens thank you for sharing

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