Learn how to make candles with this easy tutorial! Who doesn't love candles? They come in a variety of sizes, colors, scents, and even shapes. Candles add the perfect amount of warmth to any room and can make stunning decor pieces for any dinners or special occasions you may have. Candles have been the hallmark of birthday celebrations and continue to be the most popular interior décor objects across all seasons.
How to Make Candles
While you can buy your own candles from almost every store, the satisfaction and customization potential when making your own are unmatched. All your need are a few supplies that are extremely easy to find and follow a few steps, and boom! You have your own candles that you can customize, use around your home, or gift to your friends and family.
DIY Candle Supplies
These supplies can be easily found at any craft store near you or on different websites on the internet. Keeping your supplies ready to go can help you have a better candle-making experience and can make it a whole lot easier for beginners as well. There are also candle-making kits available that contain all the necessary supplies.
- Candle wax
- Heat-resistant containers or molds
- Double boiler with a pot
- Silicone spatula
- Optional - Essential oils for fragrance
- Chopsticks - these are used to hold the wick in place
Before we can talk about how to make candles, there are a few considerations that you need to keep in mind. There are many different options of waxes that you can choose from and a variety of types of wicks. If you use colors and fragrances in your candles, those can also be added in different ways. All of these things you need to know in advance to get the end result that will leave you satisfied.
Types of Wax
There are a few types of wax that you can find in any craft store. Most will be sold as wax flakes in a white or natural color.
- All-Natural Beeswax is one of the first natural options you have for your wax. It has a pale golden color and the faintest honey smell. Most candles made with this wax are left without color or scents as the natural color and scent are beautiful enough. Beeswax can be purchased in sheets or as flaked.
- Soy Candle Wax is another natural wax option. Because it is made from soy, it doesn't contain petroleum pollutants. It has an opaque white base allowing you to add any colors you want easily. It is slightly more expensive but has the least amount of negative side-effects. Soy candles tend to last longer as the wax burns cooler.
- Petroleum-Based Paraffin Wax is the most economical option for beginners and is sold in bead pellets. You can also find this wax in sheets for rolled or cut candles which are more advanced candle-making techniques.
- Blends - There are also a lot of wax blends available in the market that you can choose according to what you want. Blending paraffin wax with soy or beeswax keeps costs down.
- Old Candles - Instead of purchasing wax, why not melt and recycle your old candles.
Types of Candle Waxes Compared
|Has a natural smell, so it doesn't need scent added
|Doesn't hold fragrance well
|Can add candle scents or essential oils
|Commonly available in
|Flakes or sheets
|Soot is not healthy
Types of Wicks
Wicks are available in many different thicknesses, and you should be choosing the type of wicks that will work best with the size of the candle you're making as well as the burn time you want for your candle.
- Flat wicks are consistent in burning and curl back into the flame for a self-trimming effect.
- Square wicks are more rounded and robust and work best with beeswax but can be used across all different types of waxes.
- Cored wicks are the best at staying straight and upright while burning, which gives a more consistent flame. They do need to be pre-waxed which can increase the amount of work and effort you put in.
- HTP wicks can be hard to find in the market and are more on the expensive side. Usually made from cotton, these wicks don't produce as much carbon as compared to the other types of wicks.
Types of Scents
If you're looking to add scents to your homemade candles, there are two sources that you can use.
- Essential oils - These provide a more natural alternative but have limitations in terms of what scents you can add. Some fragrances can change the color or consistency of your candle so always do a small test first.
- Candle scents - On the other hand fragrance oils made especially for candles allow you to use any scents you want, albeit they are not the most natural option.
How to Make Candles with Color
You can add color to your candles with these different methods:
- Candle Dyes - For the best colors, you can buy specialty colored wax shavings, and liquid or powders candle dyes that can be used to add color. These are added to white wax to give vibrant opaque colors. You can mix and match the dyes to create custom shades as well. Some of these candle dyes contain fragrance so check the label if you don't want this addition.
- Crayons - You can also use wax crayons though the color won’t be very opaque. Youtube is saturated with DIY tutorials using crayons but proceed with caution. The crayons can contain other ingredients which don't mix well and can stop the wick from burning. It may also change the texture of the wax making it unevenly colored.
- Old Candles - Another way to add color is to melt old colored candles and add that to your white wax. The final color will be diluted since the wax pieces you add it to are generally white.
Food coloring doesn't mix with the wax used to make candles since it is water-based. It will form into small beads and no amount of stirring will mix it into the dye.
The color intensity that you achieve will depend on the type, brand, and concentration that you use. There is an element of trial and error to get your perfect shade and vibrancy. Make notes as you go in case you want to replicate your results at a future time.
Types of Molds for Candle Making
Any hollow, heat-resistant vessel can be used as a mold to hold your candle. Flexible molds can be removed after the candle has cooled, while non-flexible options such as tin or glass will need to remain.
- Silicon molds are best for fancy candle shapes and can be purchased at most craft shops. These flexible molds are easy to remove once the wax has cooled.
- Plastic candle containers and molds from craft stores will have parts that come apart so you can remove the mold.
- Glass jars, mason jars and containers are great for candle making but can't be removed later.
- Milk and juice cartons - While slightly larger, these make great molds as they can be ripped off after the wax has cooled. This is what I used to make candles in when I was a kid.
- Tins - like glass jars, these can't be removed at the end but you could paint or decorate the outside of the tin.
How to Make Candles – Basic Melting Method
Step 1 – Preparation
Get all your supplies ready and prep the surface you'll be working on with a newspaper or any other paper for protection against any rogue wax drips.
One of the most important things that impact the end result of your candle is the container you'll be using. While glass jars look the most elegant and are easy to use, you can also use different metal containers. Just make sure they are heat-resistant, and you're good. Wash your containers and make sure they are clean and dry before pouring.
Step 2 – Measure and Melt the Wax
Check your wax instructions, as many will specify a maximum temperature. You may need to use a thermometer while melting to get the best results. Overheating your wax can lead to discoloration and the separation of any additives.
- HEAT - Start by setting up your double boiler on medium-low heat and let it heat up while you measure out your wax. If you don't have a double boiler, you can substitute a metal bowl over a pan of hot water.
- GRATE - The wax you will have usually comes in pellet form or as wax shavings. If your wax comes in a solid block, grate it into smaller shavings.
- MEASURE - Use your container as the measuring jug and pour in the shavings up till the point you want your candle surface to start. Do this twice for each candle as the wax will melt down to around half the volume.
- MELT - Take your shavings, add them to the double boiler and start melting. Stir every now and then while your wax is melting on medium heat. The silicone spatula is especially handy here and it is heat-resistant and will help you get every inch of the wax melted.
WARNING: Candle wax is extremely hot and will burn if you spill it on your skin. Always take precautions and don't let it out of your sight while melting. Keep kids away from melted hot wax.
Alternative Way to Melt Candle Wax in the Microwave
The double boiler method is the traditional way to melt candle wax, but it is just as easy to use your microwave.
- Place your wax into a microwave proof and heat resistant container.
- Put the container in the microwave for no more than 1 minute at a time until the wax melts. Do not overheat it and check the temperature does not exceed that specified in the wax instructions.
- Remove from the microwave very carefully. Remember hot wax can burn.
Other Methods of Wax Melting
Sorry, there aren't any suitable other methods. The boiler or microwave are the safest methods for melting wax. Never put the wax directly on the stove.
Step 4 - Add Scents and Dye
Once the wax has completely melted, now is the time where you add any colors or scents that you want to add.
- Add 10-20 drops of fragrance in total – you can do 5 drops of one scent and 5 of another if you’re mixing.
- For the color, remember that it will dry a little darker than it looks, so starts with less color and add more as and when needed. The colored wax shavings may need a few more seconds to melt, you can turn the heat off and let the residual heat of the wax do the work.
Step 5 – Attach the Wick
In the meantime, get your container and attach the wick to the bottom at the center. You can use a hot glue gun and attach the wick to the bottom, or you can use a drop of melted wax to attach it to the base. Whatever seems easy to you, do it! You will need to hold the wick for a while to secure it and enable it to stand up on its own. Just remember that for best results, you need to match your wick size to the container size.
How to Hold the Wick Straight
- CHOPSTICKS - At the top of the container, place 2 chopsticks parallel to each other on either side of the wick. Make sure your wick is as central as possible.
- SKEWERS - If you don't have chopsticks, wrap the end of the wick around a skewer or other thin stick.
- ICECREAM STICKS - Make a hole in the center of the stick and thread the wick through the hole. Balance the icecream stick on the top of the container in the center.
- GRAVITY - Occasionally you will have a wick that will stand up straight by itself but this is rare. Often even if it is standing for a short time, it will droop to one side after you pour the hot wax.
Step 6 – Pour Wax and Cool
Once you're sure your wick is stable, you can start pouring in your melted wax mixture. Pour in a steady stream to avoid any splashes. A heat-proof jug is usually best for pouring as a spout means you are less likely to spill the hot wax. Remember the wax is hot and will burn - be careful! Tap the sides gently to ensure there are no air bubbles.
Put your pan aside while the wax cools at room temperature for a few hours. Depending on the size of the candle you're making, the cooling time can vary. It is best to let the candle sit overnight to ensure no wet spots remain.
How to Layer Candle Colors
Layering can be used to create unique effects. The layers can be even or uneven, and pouring at an angle can really step up your candle-making game. The critical thing to remember is to let each layer cool completely before adding the next. If the previous layer is not fully set, you will have bleeding between the layers. Of course, this may be the effect that you desire!
Step 7 – Trim, Demold and Enjoy!
When your candle has dried completely, you can trim the wick to be at the perfect length for your candle size. You can use a wick trimmer or scissors to do this. The wick, generally, should be about ¼ of an inch (6mm). Once you've done that, your candle is ready to burn! If you have used a flexible mold, you can now remove it.
How to Make Candles - With Wax Sheets
Beeswax can also come in sheets. The advantage of using sheets is that there is no heating or melting involved, making this a safer method. Beeswax is also natural, although it is a slightly more expensive method of candle making.
Supplies for Beeswax Rolled Candles
- Beeswax sheets - These can come in various sizes such as 8 of 16 inch squares.
- Sharp knife or craft knife for cutting the sheet
- Cutting board or cutting surface
Beeswax Candle Tutorial
- Place your sheet on the cutting board. Cut it to the height you desire using a craft knife or sharp kitchen knife. Remember to always cut away from you. A metal ruler is good to use as a guide.
- Lay the wick along one edge. It could be around 1 inch (2.5cm) longer than the sheet. The wick should extend by ¾" (2cm) at the top end and ¼" (6mm) at the bottom end.
- Start rolling the sheet of wax with a small fold of around ⅛ inch (3mm) over the wick. You will need to gently press down along the length of the was. The warmth of your fingers will soften it slightly.
- Once you have the starting fold, roll the sheet of wax slowly until it is your desired thicknesss. Ideally use the whole sheet so you don't have to cut. Use your knife to carefully cut if you want a thinner candle. You can even add a second sheet of wax for a really fat candle.
- To finish the end, gently press the edge down along the side of the candle.
- Trim the wick to around ½ inch (12mm).
Candle Making - Frequently Asked Questions
It pains me to answer this, but the answer is usually no. Buying the supplies for candle-making can cost more than buying a cheap one from a discount store or supermarket. Hand-making candles can, however, be more affordable than expensive designer store candles, mainly if you make several at once.
While you can use wax candles as a dye, they don't give the best results. Although made of wax, candles have other additives that can change the texture of the candle and stop the wick from burning cleanly. Instead of crayons, it is better to use specialty candle dyes in wax, powder, or liquid forms. These can be found at most craft stores that sell candle-making supplies.
Candles can have numerous ingredients that are not good for our health. Many candles are made from paraffin wax which is a derivative of petroleum. As an alternative to paraffin, you can use soy, coconut, or beeswax for your candles. Use 100% cotton wicks with no additives. To make healthier candles, you can also skip adding fragrances containing additives that you don't want to inhale. Don't use dyes that can be toxic. Never let candles burn while unattended.
As you burn a candle, the wax will melt, and the wick will get shorter. After you extinguish the candle, it is recommended that you trim the wick to limit the amount of soot your candle produces. This can make your candle last longer and limit the amount of soot the next time you light the candle. Make sure the candle is not lit and is cold before you cut the wick.
When measuring flakes, just measure them in your mold or container twice. Easy! As a general rule, use double the volume of wax flakes compared to your container.
How to Make Candles of Different Types
Once you have the basics of candle-making down pat, you can experiment with some different types of candles.
- Glass or Container Candles - These are one of the most common types of candles and certainly the easiest to DIY. Save your old jars or purchase new ones from craft stores. Simply melt and pour straight into the glass.
- Tea Lights - These small candles are usually in metal containers. You can purchase empty metal containers from craft stores or recycle your used ones. Small cans such as tuna cans could also be used as an alternative.
- Pillar Candles - These larger tall candles can be made in purchased molds or created using juice or milk containers.
How to Make Candles – In Conclusion
Learning how to make candles will leave you with a lot of satisfaction when you see your finished product. Whether you're trying to make candles for home decor or gifts, there are so many customizations that you can make to the general base mixture to add your own creative and unique touch. The supplies you need are straightforward to find, and if you don't have the time to look for each item, you can buy ready-to-go kits available in many craft stores both in-store and online.
There are a few considerations that you do need to keep in mind, like the type of wax you want to use and the type of wick size that works best with that wax. Once you start making candles, you won't want to stop, and we promise you'll get better with each try!