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How to make or recycle Candles

Updated on January 24, 2014

How To Make or Recycle Candles Guide

Holiday season is getting closer and closer, and we want to make out own Candles or Recycle them from other candles.

Making candles is similar to cooking in many ways, and, as with cooking, there is the potential element of messiness, and the possibility of unforseen accidents. Before you begin : always wear old clothes, cover work surfaces with newspaper and move or cover rugs and carpets.

Ready?

Let's go..

Please read this first...

Before you start...

Before you start...
Before you start...

Before you start making your candles, you will need some basic equipment and tools. These are readily available from craft shops, mail order or through this lens.

Check the supplier Part in this lens for candle making suppliers who I can recommend.

If you do not wish to spend too much initially, you will probably find that you already have most of the basic tools, or at least adequate alternatives.

Melting System

Candle Making Kit
Candle Making Kit

You need this product...

There are several methods of melting wax. DO NOT use a microwave or direct heat!!

For a beginner I would recommend a double boiler system which is essentially two saucepans one inside the other.

Fill the bottom pan 1/3 full of water and place the wax in the top one.

Never leave a double boiler unattended as the water will quickly evaporate unless you keep topping it up as it needs. If the water runs out it can cause a fire hazard.

If you live in the USA then you will soon want to get hold of a presto kitchen kettle found at Amazon for around $29. It is thermostatically controlled and can melt larger amounts of wax in shorter time periods.

I am the proud owner of two presto pots that I spend a fortune on importing to Germany! But through Amazon it's great! :)

Available worldwide is the Burco system which is essentially a big version of a double boiler except it has the temperature control.(Not available through amazon..)

As you learn more about candlemaking you will learn why temperature is so important. See making your first candle to find out more about temperature. If you don't want to spend out on big melters, you can make do just as well with a coffee can set inside a saucepan 1/3 full of water.

Presto Kitchen Kettle - Melting Systems for Candle Making

Thermometer

specialist thermometer
specialist thermometer

To measure the temperature of your melting wax, a specialist thermometer covering the scale 38-177C (100-350F) is recommended. A candy thermometer covers the same scale.

You cannot use a normal household thermometer as it does not go high enough.

This is really an essential piece of equipment - although your candles will burn fine without the use of a thermometer it can solve a lot of troubleshooting problems with surface marks on your candles if you check the temperature of your wax before pouring into a mold.

Scales

Required to measure the amount of wax and other materials you are using.

Kitchen scales are the best for this

The Ladle

Ladle
Ladle

This is very handy to ladle the wax out of your melter.

If you got a quility Ladle, you notice that working with Candles can be fun AND quick too.

Ladle Products - Good for Candle Making

Measuring / Pouring Jug

Ladle out your wax into a jug and use the jug to pour into the molds. It will be easier to control pouring into molds if you pour from a jug.

Paraffin Wax

Paraffin Wax
Paraffin Wax

Essential...

A very essential part of candlemaking! You can't make candles without wax!!

You've all heard the saying "you get what you pay for" so use a quality supplier rather than canning wax from the grocery store.

Your candles will thank you for that :)

Experiment One (Not bad at all..)

Experiment One (Not bad at all..)
Experiment One (Not bad at all..)

Wick

Comes in all types and sizes depending on the project you are using. The most common suitable candle making wick is braided cotton that has been treated chemically to improve the quality of burning.

Wick is sold in graduations and the size of your candle determins the size of the wick.

If you are unsure, just think about this : What size diameter candle you intend to make?

Big, medium, huge?

Layered Candles (Green i love..)

Layered Candles (Green i love..)
Layered Candles (Green i love..)

Colouring / Dye

Used by candle makers to make a vast range of colours and shades. How much you use depends on the size of your candle and how dark you want it to be. The more dye you use, the deeper the colour.

Do not use wax crayons as it clogs the wick. Proper candle dyes are inexpensive and worth investing in.

There are several different sorts of dyes -- blocks that you shave a small amount off of into the wax, colour chips which are smaller and work on the same principle as blocks or there are liquid dyes which are controlled by a dropper. To start with I would recommend blocks or chips in the basic primary colours - red, blue and yellow.

You can make all the colours you need from these three and you can always invest in extra once you've got the hang of basic colour mixing. Candle dyes are available from all good suppliers.

Candle Dye Online

Wax Additives

There are lots of different additives you can add to your wax to create different effects. The main two that you will need to start with are stearic acid (also known as stearin) and vybar.

Stearin is a useful additive that increases the depth of the colours, reduces dripping and improves burning. It also increases the tendency of the paraffin wax to shrink, making removing candles from rigid moulds much easier.

Use 10% of stearin to wax. Vybar increases the opacity (creaminess) of wax and helps it to burn better.

Mold Seal

If you plan on making pillar candles you will need something called mold seal to hold the wick in place so that the wax doesn't escape through the hole.

Mould seal is similar to putty, is re-useable and plumbers putty or blue-tack work great!

Juice Carton Mold Trick

An empty juice carton makes an ideal mold as the carton can simply be torn away when the candle cools. Old ice cream tubs can also be used. It may be useful to use two wicks if using a wide tub or pot. This will make the candle easier to remove and will create an interesting effect when lit.

Buy Candles Online or make your Own?

Buy Candles
Buy Candles

Buy Candles or make your Own?

See results

Candle Molds

Most candles are made from moulds, and these come in all shapes and sizes. Materials used include plastic, metal, rubber, latex and glass.

The cheapest to start with are the basic plastic molds but you cannot use scent or high temperatures (wax over 180°F) in them. Metal molds are the most expensive but they are tough and sturdy and have the advantage of being suitable to heat before pouring the wax in to give a shiny finish to your candles.

Novelty style candles with a lot of detail are generally made from 2 piece plastic or rubber. The shape of these enable you to make candles from odd shapes that could not be removed from a rigid straight mould. The main drawback to using a rubber or latex mould is that they have a limited lifespan.

There are several household items that you can use to make your own molds when you are just starting out.

Heat Gun / Blow Torch

I don't know how I existed without mine for so long! They can be used to cover up a multitude of sins as far as surface imperfections are concerned, use them to preheat metal molds before pouring wax in to keep the wax hot for as long as possible (makes the candle shiny) and also use them to get rid of bubbles in gel candles.

In the USA you can get a heat gun from Amazon and similar online shops.

Childrens yoghurt Pots Mold

These yoghurt packages are great as Mold for Candles!

Dipping Can

A tall cylindrical metal vessel used for making hand dipped tapers and overdipping molded candles. It must be deep and wide enough to allow a candle to be completely immersed.

Professional dipping cans are made of metal and can be bought from craft shops or suppliers. A cheaper alternative if you are just starting out is an asparagus boiler with the basket removed. These can be bought from kitchen shops.

Again, non essential for your first few candles.

Water Bath

Essentially just a bucket of water.

Put the freshly poured candle into a bucket and fill with water. Take care that water doesn't splash inside the mold and make sure the water level comes right up to the top of the mold.

All these moulds and supplies are available from Amazon, including great to start with sets!

Terracotta Mold Trick

A simple terracotta flowerpot is an ideal first mold. If you don't have any laying around the garden, they can be purchased from Amazon.Because terracotta is pourous, it is essential that you seal the insides with modge podge to prevent the flowerpot from becoming one enormous wick!

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I think making my own candles is a lovely idea.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Awesome information - I think it'd be neat to make my own candles. Thanks for sharing - blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • Frank Edens profile image
      Author

      Frank Edens 5 years ago

      @Thrinsdream: Thank you Cathi! Love to make these kind of lenses :)

    • Thrinsdream profile image

      Thrinsdream 5 years ago

      Loved it! I have some beeswax candles my mother made for me that are just ace. Loved this article. With thanks and appreciation Cathi x ps loved the tip about buying wax! :)