How to Make Candles From Scratch
What supplies do I need to make candles?
This article is for the occasional crafter that likes to make their own candle.
Making candles from scratch requires a few things like candle wax, candle wicks, and vessels to pour the melted wax in. The vessels can be glass jars or metal tins like cans. You can even use a stout shallow bowl. You can make utility candles or scented candles with fragrances of your choice. The wax and the wicks (and wick sticks if you do not have a hot glue tool) should be purchased at your local candle supply store.
Melting the wax and adding the fragrance can be done with things from around the house or from cheap items bought on a budget from the dollar store.
The wax can be melted in a pouring pitcher either metal or glass (measuring baking glass) in water and a saucepan on medium heat until it reaches about 185 degrees. Wax can also be melted in a recycled soup can. Use caution as this mixture is hot.
Remove the wax from the heat and add the fragrance stirring for a couple of minutes. Pour the mixture into your container with the wick already attached to the bottom of the container. Let cool just until the wax starts to turn cloudy and attach the tape to the sides of the wick to hold it centered to the container. You can also use a wooden stick to hold it in place by wrapping the wick around it and resting it on the container.
Let the candle completely cool for at least 4-6 hours before disturbing. I let my candles cure for at least 3 days before I burn them. This allows the wax to properly absorb the fragrance.
Because it is so much cheaper to make candles yourself, keep a container of soy wax and a bottle of fragrance on hand for when you need another candle. Fragrances are sold by the ounce so you can collect them over time too.
Buy your supplies from candle suppliers like candlescience.com (they have a great website) or greatcandle.com (they have great phone support).
What can you add to candle wax?
Keep in mind that anything that is flammable normally is going to be flammable in your candle. Adding things that are tiny like spices such as cinnamon may clog the wick and may interfere with the candle burning. Cinnamon sticks can serve as a secondary wick. Often people add embellishments of real flowers, roses, or crystals. You can add larger herbs.
Candles of intension are made with a combination of fragrances, herbs, stones, crystals, and florals with purpose. These are meant for rituals and spells.
Another topper can be to add wax figures made from small silicone molds. You could adorn your candle with small charms or dust the top slightly with a little mica to give it a shimmer. Remember less is more. You are already creating something that burns, don’t create a fire starter!
Can you use food coloring in candles?
Yes. It has to be an oil-based colorant and there is no guarantee of the outcome depending on the brand as this is not what they are meant for. If you are making candles as a craft to sell it is much cheaper and more effective to use candle dye. But for yourself, this is ok and better than crayons! o not use crayons. They clog the wick.
Can I color candles naturally?
Yes. It has to be a product or food that can be steeped in oil and filtered so that no particles are suspended in the oil. The oil is used as a colorant. It is difficult to get vibrant colors this way but this offers an all-natural solution.
Can you paint the candles?
Yes. If you are making pillar candles the outside can be painted with acrylic paint. The paint is not in the melt pool and does not interfere with the wick. This type of candle often will tunnel or not completely burn. Some of this syle is the carved candles you see. These are dipped in clear acrylic and only the core is burned. Dried acrylic paint does not burn but use caution and moderation.
The same can be said for glitter. Fine glitter can interfere with the wick and the larger glitter may catch fire. Keep this in mind when creating your candle.
What is the best wax to use when you start making candles?
Soy wax is the most popular. I use GB464 brand but in your area, it may be different. Soy wax is easy to work with and cleans up easily. A good place to start is with a soy candle making kit.
How much fragrance should I use in candles?
If you are casually making candles for yourself, I add about 1.5 ounces to 2.0 ounces of fragrance oil to 1 pound of soy wax. Technically, candlemaking is measured by weight and varies depending on the type of wax and density of fragrance. A 4-ounce bottle of fragrance to a 2-pound bag of wax is good. That would make about four 8-ounce sized candles.
If you are using paraffin wax it takes about half the fragrance oil. Wax will only absorb so much of the fragrance oil. As a rule, the harder the wax the less fragrance oil it will absorb. Paraffin is harder than soy.
Can you use diffuser oil in candle wax?
No. I tried this. It separated after it cooled down and it seemed to lose the scent. It just turned into a mess.
Can you put vanilla extract in candles?
Yes. It will smell like vanilla when you hold it to your nose. No. When you lite it will not broadcast a “hot throw” and fill the room with a scent.
What temperature should I add my fragrance oil to a candle?
You could add a thermometer to your craft collection or steal one from the kitchen. I like to add my fragrance at a lower temperature at around 150 degrees and pour the wax at about 135. This may help to make the fragrance in your candle stronger as the fragrance oil is not burning off while the wax is so hot. It helps to monitor the temperature of the wax.
What container can I use for candles?
Making candles for yourself can be with upcycled jars from the kitchen. Jelly jars or pick jars are really cute. If you have previously purchased candles they can also be reused. I have cleaned old candle jars by pouring hot water into the jar until the wax floats up and wiping out the old candle. Some wick tabs can be stubborn to remove. If the fragrance sticks around, wipe the container out with an alcohol cleaning solvent. I have also used stout glass containers from the Dollar Tree and canning jars.
What wick size should I use?
Purchasing your wax and wicks from a candle supply store is better because most have a wick guide on their website. The wick size is based on the diameter size of the container. Candle supply stores make it easy to help you pair these two. This is the reason I discourage buying from hobby stores or online from places like Amazon. Unless you have developed the skills and performed the necessary candle testing to understand what you are buying, don’t waste your money. I don’t want to set you up to make an unsafe candle either.
How to clean your candle melting pots and containers?
Clean out your pouring pitcher with paper towels and discard. Do not put wax down your drain. 100% soy wax is water-soluble and can be washed with hot soapy water.