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Make Your Own Candles in 9 Easy Steps
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.
- Containers (to pour wax into to make the candles)
- Metal Pitcher (optional)
- Wooden or Other Sticks (to position the wicks)
- Wooden Stirring Spoon or Stick
- Glue Gun (optional)
- Essential Oil (optional)
- 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: 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: 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.
You may also like my article about making oil candles
- How to Make Oil Candles at Home - for Hannukah and Other Occasions
Here are simple instructions for making an oil candle at home. Oil candles are inexpensive to make and require only a few household items. They can be used to create beautiful Hanukkah menorahs.
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.
Regular scissors have a hard time trimming the candle wicks. A wire cutter does the job quite nicely and makes this job much easier!
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
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
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 informationClick thumbnail to view full-size
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!