Candle making can be a fun, rewarding, and inexpensive hobby. But as with many of these things, often it can be a bit intimidating knowing where to start with how to make candles, and if the results will be worth it.
In this complete guide, we cover everything that you’ll need to know about how to make a candle. Including benefits of making candles, safety considerations, materials and supplies needed, and of course a step by step guide on how to make candles.
Benefits of making your own candles
Making your own candles is not only really fun and rewarding, but you get to keep your lovely candle at the end of the process. Personally we love re-using old (fire safe) containers, or candle jars and repurposing them into our own homemade candles. With plenty of fragrance oil kits out there in the market, as well as dyes, you can make a candle that not only smells great, but looks great too!
Not to mention, there are lots of other possible benefits of making your own candles that you may not have thought of. We’ve listed a few of these great benefits below:
Once you have the basic candle making kit, a lot of this is reusable time and again for future candle making activities. All you’ll need to do is to buy more wax, wicks and scents if required.
Containers often only need to be bought once too, as once you’ve used them for making your candles you can wash them out and start all over again.
We have only ever needed to buy one candle making kit, once you have that the other supplies such as wax, wicks etc, can be purchased in bulk saving you money.
They make great personalised gifts
Anyone can go out and buy someone a candle. It makes it that much more special when you’ve hand made the candle yourself. Selecting the scent and container just for the person your gifting the candle to. Your friends and family will be sure to appreciate the extra effort and personal touch that comes with a home made candle as a gift.
There are plenty of great options and ideas on different types of DIY candles too, so you’ll be able to keep your home made candle ideas fresh too. We personally have also crocheted small candle jar covers to personalize the candles even more.
The possibilities are endless, and candle making is a craft that is relatively straightforward that can show someone you care.
You might be able to sell your candles for cash
If you really get into the swing of candle making, and refine making them look great, why not sell some of the candles you make.
There are lots of stories of people who have taken their candle making to the next level, and making money selling your own candles, might not be as hard as you would think.
You can gain a little bit of extra income for yourself, or just more money for future candle making!
Candle making is a great relaxing hobby
Arts and crafts projects such as candle making, are a great way of relaxing and de-stressing. Not to mention, as a hobby candle making has a pretty low barrier to entry and is relatively straightforward.
In these times where people have been stuck in doors for longer, and also are looking for more productive ways to spend their time, candle making is really great for beginners and people looking for a new relaxing hobby.
There are eco friendly methods of candle making
If you’re not wanting to use paraffin wax, which is a more common traditional choice for a lot of candle makers, then you can be a bit more eco friendly and use soy wax or beeswax.
These two waxes, soy and beeswax, also have their own pleasant natural fragrances you can enjoy. You may even be able to purchase beeswax from local honeybee farmers, so you can support local businesses and your community too!
Which sounds better, ‘homemade candle’ or ‘locally sourced organic beeswax homemade candle’.
We’re lucky to have plenty of honey bee farmers around British Columbia who sell beeswax for candle making, so have a research around your local area to see if there are any local farmers.
There are lots of different ways to get your hands on great quality candle making supplies, and all sorts of options including the more eco friendly ones. So have a look around and choose the supplies that best fit your needs.
Candle making safety considerations
With any activity involving fire, it’s important to be safe and make sure you’re taking the right precautions to avoid any accidents.
The biggest cause of fires in the home, unfortunately is burning candles. We have even had some close calls with a candle nearly burning our bedspread at home one time!
Therefore, it is extremely important to understand candle safety, both when you’re making the candles and when you’re burning them. You should also never leave a lit candle unattended.
Choosing the right candle container
An area that’s often overlooked with candle safety can be picking the right container for your candle, especially if you’re using old containers from around your home for your candles.
It’s key to choose a container that:
- Isn’t flammable
- Won’t Leak
- Won’t crack or break with heat
A traditionally good container for candles is jam jars or other thick glass jars, which have been designed to withstand high heat and can hold wax reliably without leaking. We love to use old mason jars such as the below, which you can also pick up cheap from plenty of stores if you don’t have any available.
The glass also is great for being able to see the lovely color of your candle wax too.
Some container types to avoid when making your own candles, are things like: containers made from natural materials (e.g. coconut shells, wooden pots, etc), thin glass containers, and plastic.
As long as you make sure your container fits the criteria above, of being non flammable, won’t leak, and won’t crack or break with heat, then your container should be fine.
Have a clear preparation area
Before you start making your candles you should also make sure that you’ve got an area that is fit for purpose for candle making.
Most kitchens are ideal for this, as you’ll likely be using the hob to heat up your wax anyway.
However, you should also cover any worktops etc that are easily damaged or stained, as candle making can get rather messy if there are spillages etc.
So for your preparation area, make sure you:
- Use a heat resistant surface that won’t get damaged
- Don’t make candles near flammable objects
- Don’t wear loose or flammable clothing
Dispose of old wax properly
Another issue that can be common with candle making is disposing of left over, old, or excess wax.
Often when the wax is still melted it might be tempting to just tip it down the sink.
This wax won’t stay liquid forever, and will very quickly cool and block up your pipes. Leaving you with a bit of an issue with your sink.
So my advice is to use a strainer lined with kitchen towel. This will allow the liquid to drain through whilst collecting the wax in the kitchen towel so you can just throw it in the trash rather than down the sink.
Don’t leave candles unattended
I’ve mentioned it earlier, but again, the key safety tip with candle making and burning candles, is to never leave a candle burning unattended.
Candle Making Supplies & Materials
So now we know the benefits of making our own candles, and safety aspects we should consider. We can now start making sure we have the right supplies for candle making.
Wax is clearly a central element in our candle that will be really important in our candle making endeavors.
But what wax should we use, and what wax is best to use? Let’s discuss the 3 main options for wax.
1 – Parrafin
Parrafin wax is the most common, and the traditional wax that’s used in candles. It’s cheap and you can add your own colors and scents very easily.
If you’re starting out, and don’t have concerns over wanting a more natural or eco friendly wax, then paraffin should be the wax you choose.
2 – Soy
Soy wax is growing in popularity for candle making, and has only been used in the last 30 years or so as people have become more conscious of wanting their wax to be more natural.
Soy wax is generally made with soybean oil, but also sometimes can be blended with paraffin. The good thing for candle makers is that it is still relatively cheap, and like paraffin wax can take added scents and colors well.
3 – Beeswax
Beeswax is actually the oldest candle making wax there is.
As you’ve probably guessed, it’s produced by bees and is a byproduct of the honey making process. It is a completely natural wax, and has a golden colour and natural scent.
The downside of beeswax is that it doesn’t take to other added fragrances very easily, and is also the most expensive out of the wax options.
OR – Old candle wax
Have you got any candles that you have burnt as much as you can, but frustratingly there is still some wax remaining?
Then why not try scraping out this wax and reusing it for new candles.
Although some say this isn’t ideal for optimal burning, it’s the cheapest option here if you’re on a budget, and also is pretty environmentally friendly as you’re just making use of what would otherwise go to waste.
Wicks are another really important element of your candle. You’ll need to buy your own wicks that are the right size and width for the type of candles you’re making.
The most important thing is the width of the wick, so if you’re making a larger candle (e.g. jam jar sized), then you’ll want to use a medium/large width wick.
As long as your wick is long enough, you don’t need to worry how long exactly it is, as you will trim your wick down at the end of the process once your wax is set.
If you’re making a container candle, which is the most common and simple to make at home. Then evidentially you will need a container.
You should consult the safety section above on containers for more information on the types of containers that will work for your candle from a safety perspective (non-flammable, non leaking, heat resistant).
However, from a visual perspective, the container you want to use to get your candle looking as nice as possible, will be largely down to personal preference.
Common containers to use will be jam jars, sealed metal tins (if you’re unsure they are sealed, pour water and see if there are any leaks), or old candle containers that used to have store bought candles in them.
These can be some of the best ways to not need to buy your own separate containers for your candles.
The great thing about candle making, is that the size of candle you make is completely up to you.
When it comes to candles, we love a candle that has a great fragrance. We’ve even reviewed a bunch of the best yankee candle scents to find the top of the pile.
But when it comes to making your own candles, getting the right scent and the right strength of fragrance can take some experimentation.
When you’re candle making, you’ll need to add fragrance oils to the wax as part of the process when the wax has melted.
We’ve made choosing the best candle fragrance oils easy for you, by reviewing a selection of mixed fragrances that should suit any tastes. So you’ll be able to find some fragrances that you’ll enjoy.
It’s important to note that you should make sure that you are buying fragrances or essential oils suitable for candle making, as not all of them will be.
You should also read the directions as to how much scent to use, for how strong you want your candles to smell, as this will often come down to personal preference.
For coloring your candle, you’ll need to purchase oil based dyes.
Food coloring will not work in candles as it’s water based not oil based.
This is the easiest on the list, you’ll need to use a large saucepan or pot to contain water for your candle making.
You don’t need to worry about ruining your best kitchen pots, as all your pot will be doing is containing boiling water.
You’ll have a separate container that will sit within this larger pot that will hold the wax. This smaller container sits in the boiling water to allow the wax to melt.
Melting Pot – Smaller heat resistant container
As touched on above, you’ll use a smaller container which will hold your wax and sit in the saucepan with the water.
We’ve often found that something like a pyrex measuring jug serves great for this purpose. As it’s easy to clean and pour once your wax has melted.
You’ll need a thermometer for keeping an eye on the temperature of your wax whilst melting.
Often when you buy wax there will be instructions as to what temperature you should add your fragrance, when to pour etc.
Good types of thermometers to use will be candy or candle thermometers, which you can find at craft or cooking stores. (These can often also be included in candle making kits too).
The above might seem like a strange combination of items, but basically you’ll just need something to sit across the top of your candle container with the wick wrapped around it to hold the wick upright.
This is important during the setting phase, as it will keep the wick upright in the middle of the candle.
You’ll need scissors to trim your wick right at the end of the process.
Candle Making Kit (optional)
If you don’t want to go out and buy lots of these candle making components seperately, there are plenty of candle making kits which will have all of the basics you’ll need for your candle making.
This can be a great way to get started with all the basics you need.
Method – 10 Steps To Make Your Own Candles
Step 1 – Prepare your containers
Some people do this step later, but we’ve found it’s always good to have your containers ready for pouring at the start of the process, so you don’t need to worry about it when your wax has melted.
For this step, firstly you should place your container on a flat surface.
Then get one of your wicks, and place it with the small metal plate at the bottom in the centre of the container.
Now cut the wick so there is roughly 2 inches sticking out of the candle.
You’ll then wrap this excess wick around a chopstick/pencil/old pen, and then rest the chopstick etc, across the top of the container. Making sure that the wick hangs down straight and sits in the center of your container.
Step 2 – Prepare work area and equipment
If you’ve read the rest of this post, you should be all set up with the right equipment. It’s always useful to get out your equipment so it’s easy to grab when you need it.
You should also make sure you have enough space and a safe environment for your candle making.
The kitchen usually works a treat.
Step 3 – Fill pot with boiling water
The next step is to fill your large pot with boiling water, ready for your smaller container containing your wax to be placed.
What we’re doing here is essentially creating our own makeshift ‘double boiler’. The reason we cannot heat wax directly on heat is that it can catch fire or evaporate.
Step 4 – Place wax in small container
This next step will involve placing your wax in your smaller heat resistant container (e.g. pyrex jug or small metal jug as pictured below)
Make sure you include plenty of wax in the smaller container for the size candle you want to make.
This is because the wax will melt down and occupy less space than it will before melting (especially if you have a bag of wax chunks/shavings which is common with purchased wax).
Step 5 – Place small container in boiling water
Now you should place the smaller container into the pot containing the boiling water as pictured below:
Once you’ve placed your smaller container holding your wax into your boiling water, the thermometer should be placed in the smaller pot with the wax to monitor temperature. You’ll now wait until the wax has melted and reached the correct temperature.
The temperature guidelines for how hot to heat your wax are below:
Paraffin wax – 122-140 °F (50-60°C)
Soy wax – 170-180 °F (77-82°C)
Beeswax – 145 °F (50-60°C)
Old Candle Wax – 185 °F (85°C)
Step 6 – Add scent (optional)
If you’re wanting to scent your candles, once you’re wax has reached the right temperature the next step will be to add your scent.
This is completely a personal preference, but you should read the directions for the particular scent you choose as to how much you’ll need to add for the size of candle you’re making.
Step 7 – Add color (optional)
If you want to add color to your candle, you should add this once your scent has been added, and the wax has reached the optimum temperature.
Step 8 – Pour wax
Once your scent and color are mixed into your wax, you’ll be able to pour it into your container.
Take care with pouring and pour slowly to make sure that you don’t spill any wax (candle making can get very messy very quickly!).
You can then judge how full you want your candle to be.
Step 9 – Cool wax
In regards to how long you should let your candles cool, often it is recommended to leave them for a full 24 hours if at all possible. However in our experience, this isn’t always necessary.
The cooling time will also vary depending on the wax used.
Paraffin candles will generally take the full 24 hours, whilst soy candles and beeswax candles will take 4-6 hours. Old candles will be even shorter, often only requiring a couple of hours to cool.
Step 10 – Trim Wick
Once your wax has cooled you’ll be able to trim your wick to the right height, as it will now be held nicely in place by the cooled wax.
You should try to trim your wick down to roughly a ¼ of an inch, which will be the optimum height to allow enough burning, but not too large of a flame.
More candle making methods
If you follow all the steps above and realise that you love candle making, and want to expand upon your newly learned skills, then the good news is, there is even more candle making that you can try.
Experiment with new scents and colors
Firstly, why not try and experiment with colors and scents and get that perfect blend of just the right color candle and the perfect amount of scent.
We’ve definitely found that it’s hard to know the best scents until you’ve actually used them in your own candle making.
So keep experimenting and figuring out which you like best.
Try out different containers
You can also try out different containers and size candles.
The common beginner candle will be using an old jam jar, but why not see which other containers you might be able to use that will be suitable for making candles.
Take it to the next level with more advanced candles
If you’re still wanting more candle making, why not have a look into other types of candles you can make, not just new scents, colors and containers.
You could experiment with different wax, or try making different styles of candle all together such as votive candles, pillar candles, dipped candles or rolled candles.
These will require a slightly different process however, so you should research each individual method if they take your fancy.
So there you have it, our complete guide on how to make candles.
We love candle making and have made plenty of candles ourselves many of which we’ve given as gifts to friends and loved ones.
So don’t forget to keep safety in mind when making your own candles, and also have fun, experiment, and see what home made candles you can create.