How to Make Candles in 6 Easy Steps
How to Make Candles in 6 Easy Steps
- Select a glass or tin container
- Secure the wick in the center
- Melt the container wax
- Add fragrance
- Pour the wax into the container
- Let the wax set up (cool) and trim the wick
Before you start – making candles can be messy. Cover your area with something protective like newspaper or plastic. I always wear an apron!
How to select a container for your candle
The container is going to get hot. Select a heavy glass jar or a tin made for candles. I use canning jars from the grocery store (Walmart). They are usually the cheapest. Especially at the end of canning season when they go on sale. If you are using tins, make sure they are meant for candles. Some tins leak around the seams.
Candles can also be made by pouring wax into a mold using a pillar wax or a parasoy blend designed to stand on its own. Often pillar or taper candles are made from a harder wax using paraffin. A pillar wax is a little different than a container wax. The bonus to pillar candles is the container or mold can be re-used several times reducing the cost to make a candle. The container is the second biggest expense to making candles.
How to secure the wick in the center of the container
You can use wick stickers from the craft store or a hot glue dot on the bottom. I look straight over the jar and push the wick down on the bottom using a stick (or skewer). You can secure the wick with a dot of wax, but it will come loose as soon as the heat from pouring the candle heats up the jar.
The wick used is relative to the container. As an example, I use an HTP105 wick for an 8-ounce jelly canning jar that is 2.5 inches in diameter at the opening. If the container is a short 8-ounce jar but has an opening of 3.5 inches, I use an HTP125. The bigger the opening the bigger the wick (as a guide). Most candle supply stores can recommend the wick size for the container you are using. This combination requires testing if you plan to make many candles or sell (or give) to family, friends, or the public.
Caution: Burning the wrong size wick can result in a flame the size of a rocket! Using a wick that is too small can result in a candle that just will not burn correctly. The ideal wick and container combination produce a melt pool that allows the wick to burn at a rate that consumes the scented wax evenly.
Choosing the correct wick size example troubleshooting-
Wick tunnels down inside the candle
- wick is too small
Flame is high
- wick is too long or not trimmed
Wick does not stay lit or flame is small
- wick is too small (or too much fragrance)
How to melt the container wax
For a smaller batch, 16 ounces or less, I use a microwave safe plastic container from the dollar store. Measure out 16 ounces of container wax (GB 464) and microwave in 60 second increments stirring in between. The wax should be transparent in color (not cloudy) before adding the fragrance. In larger batches, the average temperature for melted wax should be around 165-185 degrees. Do not overheat the wax.
Avoid using glass to make candles. The glass absorbs heat and sometimes it takes more effort to heat the glass that it does to melt the wax. Alternatively, you can melt wax in a can sitting in a pan of hot water. Getting water in the wax can result in a bad looking candle and can also be a hazard. Water and wax do not mix well at all! Melting wax over an open flame can catch fire resulting in serious burns. Always use caution when heating wax. This is not a good activity for kids and keep away from pets.
How to add fragrance to the container wax
Fragrance is usually sold in 1-ounce, 2-ounce, 4-ounce, 8-ounce, and 16-ounce bottles. Generally, fragrance is added at a rate of 8-10% of the total for container wax. Candle math can get a little tricky. I add 1.5 – 2.0 ounces to each 16 ounces of container wax. Stronger fragrances like some florals I add less (1.5). Some weaker fragrances like French Vanilla I add more (2.0). Since the fragrance is the most expensive ingredient in candle making, I have a rule to be more accurate with the larger batches. Often, I add a 2-ounce bottle to a pound (16 ounces) of container wax.
Fragrance is the most important to a candle and the most expensive. I only use fragrance oils from a candle supply store. I have used some from a hobby store and was disappointed. Fragrance oils meant for anything other than candle making usually so not mix with the wax or will not burn or worse there just is no hot throw. I have been taught to NEVER burn essential oils. Some essential oils are toxic when burning. Since I am not well versed in that area, I just do not use them. One exception is message candles which is a specialty candle.
Cold throw – the aroma wax releases when it is just sitting.
Hot throw – the aroma wax release when it is hot from a wax warmer or lit from a candle.
How to pour the wax into the container
Before the wax cools, pour the container wax into the container leaving about ½ inch from the top. This is straight forward except that you need something to keep the wick upright and standing straight in the middle of the container. I use a popsicle stick with a hole drilled in the middle. You can also use a clothes pin or 2 sticks on each side of the wick.
How to trim the wick
After the wax is completely cooled, cut the wick down to about an ¼ inch height from the top of the wax. The wick should be trimmed after each use. This helps to control the flame and prevent overheating the wax and having a flare up. Some wicks curl up creating problems burning high or rolling back into the wax pool.
How to add more appeal to your candle
Candles can be colored to match your décor with candle dye either in liquid or dye chips. If you are just making candles for yourself, you can even use a cut up crayon. Add the colorant to the wax when it is hot and stir in before you add the fragrance. Candles can also be made in a variety of containers if the container can withstand the heat. Keep in mind that you will be burning something. They should never be left unattended. Some glass containers are too thin and may break under heat.
I cannot end this without commenting that candles pose a fire risk and should never be left unattended. Candles should be kept away from anything flammable. They should not be used around kids or pets.
Do not put anything in the wax that is flammable. Glass breaks especially when changing from cold to hot quickly. Do not use containers that are cracked or look fragile. Error on the side of caution.
Making candles can be fun and a profitable side hobby. This instruction is meant for the occasional desire to craft a candle. Making candles for resale is a little more involved and can be a great business. A start up candle business only requires a little equipment and can grow into a business as big as you can imagine. If you would like to start your own candle business, practice with this as a good starting point. I have several articles here to help you through.
Over the years I have done a ton of testing matching the correct wick with selected containers and different fragrances. I have tried several types of wax from 100% soy to gel. Check out other blog post on how to make those too!
I’ve also created a video to help walk you through. Have fun and stay creative!