How Much Does Candle Making Cost?
Like most hobbies, there is an initial investment to get started, but making a quality candle yourself is always cheaper, If you love candles, this is the hobby for you.
I sold candles at craft fairs to earn enough to pay for my hobby. Scale this craft and candle making can be a profitable business.
As a candle business, the cost is always at the forefront.
The cost for candle making starts at around $50 for a starter kit. Most kits will make 4 to 6 medium-sized candles around 8 ounces each, and have a small variety of fragrance oils. Each candle would cost about $6 to $7 from a kit. A candle-making kit should come with a melting or pouring pitcher that can be used for a long time. The wax, wicks, fragrance, and containers will have to be replenished as you want to make candles.
There are some things that you can do to bring the cost of the candles down but be prepared to invest in initial equipment. Decide what level of candle making you are interested in. Below is an outline for the cost of candle making at each level. I have 5. At any level, success can be very challenging if you try to skip the experience and practice at each level. You can start wherever you want.
- Personal candle maker- makes occasional candles for themselves (about $50)
- Hobbyist candle maker – makes several candles for themselves, family, friends (about $100)
- Chandelier – the Artist, makes candles to sell to the public at weekend markets or fairs (about $250)
- Candle Making Business- makes candles as a side income, full-time income either online or brick and mortar (about $1000+) *Retail will cost way different to start than online and vary too much to describe here
- Candle Manufacturer – Wholesale or white label ($10,000+)
There are several key factors that you must look at for each level. Making candles for yourself can be accomplished with most heat-safe vessels in either glass or tin and are readily available. In my first year as a candle maker, the supply for my vessels dried up and I had to scramble to find a substitute. The same thing happened with my labels.
I spent my first year stressing over my supply chain. If you need to make 200 candles a week make sure you can obtain the supplies needed to do so. Altering your plan with substitutions can cost more. Worse, your quality could suffer.
Eventually, you will need to replenish the ingredients that came with your kit. The biggest cost of candle making is the fragrance oil. I buy larger quantities at a time (this is called buying in bulk) and my average cost per fragrance oil is $1.34 per ounce.
For a quality 8-ounce soy candle, you need just under 1 ounce. Designer fragrances could easily cost double that. I buy fragrance oils by the pound. Fragrance oils can also be purchased by the gallon or by the drum (55 gallons).
Purchasing your ingredients in larger quantities is cheaper per candle and where you will see the savings. Buying small quantities will end up costing the same as a candle you could purchase. “Treat it like a hobby and it will cost you like a hobby” ~ unknown
Before we go any further, another key factor is the shipping or freight cost. I am lucky to have a candle supply store locally and can pick up my order. Shipping for heavy items like fragrance oils or wax can get expensive. My cost does not include shipping. Choosing your supplier is very important. You may have multiple suppliers.
Make sure you factor shipping in the cost. If you can drive and pick up the order it may be worth planning for it. Shipping is not free. Someone has to pay for it either in the price or as an add on.
Another way to control some of the costs is to commonize your product. Some candle makers offer wax melt tarts as well as candles using two different wax types.
As an example, a tart wax such as GB 416 also makes a good container candle. If you typically buy 20 pounds of GB 464 to make container candles and 20 pounds of GB 416 to make clamshell tart wax melts, buying a 45-pound case of GB 416 would be cheaper without sacrificing quality.
A GB 464 is not a tart wax and does not do well outside of a container. It is too soft.
The second biggest cost is the container. This varies widely and is dependant on your choice. I have bought a case of jelly jars at my local grocery store for $10 making the container $.83 each. Sometimes in the fall, they are on sale to buy one case and get the second case half off. Another avenue is the local Dollar Tree.
The downside is that these are not reliable sources and may not always have the containers you are looking for. When building a brand, consistency is important. If that is not what you are looking for then it does not matter.
The cost of candle making can be grouped into 2 areas. One group is the equipment and the other is the replenishable or ingredients.
Candle Making Equipment Cost
Level 1: Double boiler method (most kits are this) – $70 or less
- Stove or hot plate – should be electric. Under $20
- Water pot – under $10
- Melting & pouring metal pitcher – under $15 (Must have a good spout to pour – eBay or Amazon)
- Silicone or plastic spoon – $1 (Dollar Tree)
- Wick centering sticks – $5 ( I use wooden popsicle sticks with a hole drilled in the middle)
- Scale – under $15 (everything is measured by weight)
- Thermometer – under $5
Level 2: The cost is the same as level one except that you need more of the pots, spoons, and centering devices. This you can add over time and accumulate as you learn. You will need a pouring pot for each fragrance you make at one time. Otherwise, you will have to weigh for the cooling and clean-up to make the next batch. That could be a pain.
Level 3: At this point, you have probably collected a half dozen melting pots and are outgrowing your set up. At this level you should be looking at the time it takes you to make candles. Labor plays a big part in your profit. You will only make as much money as you can make candles and this will become your cap for your income.
The first rule for a craft show is that you can only make as much money as you have merchandise to sell.
*If you want to sell $500 in candles every weekend to earn a $250 profit and you sell you candles for $10 each, you need to sell 50 candles. It has been my experience that only about 1 in 10 persons that visit my table buy and shoppers are looking for a variety. If it is not on your table, you cannot sell it. The same is true for an online store.
At this level, I upgraded to a 22-quart roaster and dipped my wax out into my pitcher. You can also buy a presto pot with a spout. Melting larger batches of wax will be the only way to keep up and keep your sanity. They can cost $60 to $80.
As your business grows so should you. Take the earnings and reinvest. You may want to buy bigger melting equipment and more pitchers. At this stage, you should be looking at more professional style equipment. To use this type of candle making gear will also require dedicated space as most professional or commercial equipment is not portable.
Level 4: This requires a completely different setup and business plan. At this level, you will need commercial equipment for wax melters and pouring tables. You would be ordering fragrance in drums that need pumps. You would need material handling equipment such as pallet jacks. You would be ordering wax by the pallet.
This would be an advanced setup with a much larger investment. It would not be a level of manufacturing that you could manage on your own. You would need employees and a space to work.
Candle Making Ingredients
This is important to go through in detail as it is perpetually the cost to make candles. It is also where most variables are. It is important to do your homework and put some research into this area. If you make a few candles and have fun doing it then no big deal. If you don’t plan this out and want to make money, it could go very wrong very fast.
How many fragrances should I start with in candle making?
If you are making for yourself pick 1 at a time that you like. If you are selling at a craft fair pick 1 from each category below. To launch a candle business pick about 2 fragrances from each category. Keep track of what you sell and tailor your production to what is popular in your area. I will list my big sellers to give you a start.
Fragrance categories (scents have top notes, middle notes, and bottom notes)
- Floral – Lavender, Dragon’s Blood, Plumeria
- Fruity – Lemongrass, Cherry, Apple
- Sweet – Oatmeal Milk & Honey, Fudge Nut Brownie, French Vanilla
- Seasonal – Pumpkin Spice, Cinnamon, Christmas Fir
- Designer – Love Spell Type, Black Ice Type, Amber Type
Containers (small start at 6 ounces then go up to 16 ounces for a larger candle)
- Canning Jars
Wax (we are only going to compare GB 464 Soy Wax)
Wicks (and wick stickers if you choose this route)
Candle Making Supplies
This is an extra group depending on how you make candles. It is hard to define how much per candle you will spend. These items should be tracked in your expenses under misc. This includes
- Hot glue sticks
- Hot glue tool
- Paper towels
- Silicone Spoons
- Paper Cups
- Measuring cups
- Packaging (shipping)
I would like to give you some examples to determine the cost of your candle making. This can be confusing at first so I hope this helps. You must shop around to get the best price for your style. The products you use must be safe. It is much cheaper to learn your options now than return the product later. Develop a plan that you can work toward ahead of time and save yourself some frustration. Do not sacrifice quality over cost.
- Candle making supplies are heavy and shipping can get expensive. Shop as local as you can.
- Shop from Candle Supply Stores, not craft stores.
- Buy in the largest quantity you can use and afford without consuming resources.
- Document what you use and where you get it (keep records).
The Benefits of Bulk in Little Ways
As you can see from the tables above, how you purchase your supplies makes a huge difference in your bottom line. Hobbies seem to start as a money vacuum. Take the time to plan out your craft so you make money from the start.