How to Make Candles
You may have guessed it already, but we love candles. They can add ambiance to any room, smell delightful, and have a long and exciting history. What do we think is the only thing more fun than buying brand new candle? Making a brand new candle! In this article, we have provided a step-by-step guide to help you make your very first candle.
Soy candles are great because they have a cleaner burn then candles made with traditional wax. They are also free of toxins, carcinogens, and pollutants which means they are friendlier for those who suffer from allergies. Soy candles also burn more slowly, meaning your candle will last longer 30-50% longer than a candle with traditional wax.
Candle making is both fun and easy. With a couple of hours and just a few supplies, you can have your very own customized candle. In fact, while you are at it, go ahead and make a few candles – one for every room sounds about right. Mix and match colors, scents, shapes, and styles, and before you know it, you will be a candle making expert too.
So What Do You Need?
The first step of our guide is gathering the necessary supplies. To properly make a candle you will need:
- Soy Wax Flakes
- Pouring Pot
- Containers or Molds
- Candle Dye
- Fragrance Oil
- Mold Release
- Parchment or Wax Paper
- Hot Glue Gun
Depending on your goal for your candles, you may not need all of these supplies. If you are allergic to fragrance, you will probably want to steer clear of the oils! If you want your candle to be white, you won’t need to worry about candle dye. If you are planning to make a candle to fit into a cute jar or container, then you will not need a mold or mold release.
How to Make Soy Candles
You’ve gathered up all your supplies, and now it’s time to get started! Keep reading below for a step-by-step guide to making your very own soy candles.
Step 1 – Prep the Area
The very first thing we’re going to want to do is prep our candle making area. The only dark secret of candle making is that the process is messy! Lay down parchment or wax paper over your work area so that it’s easy to clean up later. Make sure you have a wide, flat surface to make your candles.
Step 2 - Cut Up Your Wax
Chopping up our wax will make it much easier for it to melt. If your wax came in a big block, you’d want to make sure it is in much smaller pieces before you start to use it. The large block of wax will not melt evenly and could leave you with a sticky mess. Grab a cutting board and a sharp knife and carefully slice up your wax like you would a block of cheese.
Step 3 – Measure Out Your Wax Flakes
One pound of soy wax flakes will yield approximately 18 ounces of liquid wax. Grab your container or mold and measure out how much wax you’re going to need to fill it up. A good rule is to double the volume of each container, this way you know you’ll have plenty of melted wax to fill your containers.
Step 4 - Heat up Your Molds or Containers
Before we melt our wax the very first thing we want to do is heat up our molds or containers. If you do not heat them up, you may get surface chilling on your candles. Pre-heating your mold or container ensures a smooth, polished finish to your candle.
Step 5 – Heat Your Wax
Place your wax flakes in a pouring pot or saucepan and get ready to heat them up. You have a couple of options here – the first is to place the saucepan directly on the heat of your stovetop. This will allow your wax flakes to heat up more quickly. However, if you choose this method make sure you watch your wax carefully, so it doesn’t burn
Your second choice is to put water in a larger saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Then you place your smaller saucepan, containing your wax flakes, inside the larger saucepan. This creates a gentler environment for your wax to melt. However, it will also take a little bit more time. Either way, keep a careful eye on the wax as it melts. Make sure both containers are heat resistant!
You will want to watch your wax closely and keep track of the heat with a thermometer. Either a meat thermometer or candy thermometer will do – just remember it may be hard to clean! Soy wax has properly melted when it reaches 170-180 degrees Fahrenheit or 76-82 degrees Celsius.
Step 6 – Add Your Scent
Once your wax melts it’s time to add your scent. You can find fragrance oils or essential oils at many craft stores or open-air markets. Follow the directions on your bottle of oil carefully. Some scents will be much stronger than you realize, and you don’t want to add too much! Add a few drops to your melted wax and stir the concoction thoroughly.
In general, you can add approximately 10-20 drops of oil into your wax. You will want to keep in mind the size of the candle you’re making. A larger candle means more oil! In general, essential oils will require more drops than fragrance oil, which has a stronger scent.
Step 7 – Add Your Color
Now it’s time to decide what color you want your candle to be. If you want a white or cream colored candle, you may not need to add color at all. Otherwise, you’ll use an oil-based dye, available at any craft store. Read the bottle to determine the proper amount of color to add to your wax. Keep in mind that regular food dye will not work in a candle.
Step 8 – Place Your Wick
Before you pour your hot candle wax into your jar or container, you’ll want to place your wick. If you would like to make your wick at home, we’ve provided instructions below on how to do so. Otherwise, you can place your wick directly in the center of your jar or container, using a pencil or other long, round object to keep it in place.
Step 9 – Reduce the Temperature of Your Wax (Slightly!)
We’ve got one more step before we pour the wax into our jar or container and that’s cooling the wax just slightly. If you pour the wax when it is too hot, it can cause shrinkage in your candle. If it’s too cool, you will get bubbles and other inconsistencies in the wax. Chances are your candle wax is a little too warm right after heating, so let it cool a little before pouring.
Step 10 – Pour Your Wax
Now it’s time to pour your hot wax into your jar, container, or mold. You will want to be careful during this process as the wax is very hot and could cause a painful burn if you touch it. Pour the wax slowly, so it doesn’t spill over the edges. You also do not want to knock your wick over, sideways, or out of the candle. It is up to you how full you want your candle to be.
Step 10 – Allow the Wax to Cool
The longer you let your wax cool, the better. Typically, it only takes soy wax approximately 4-5 hours to fully cool. However, if you can leave the candle to cool for a full 24 hours, or overnight, you will ensure it has cooled 100% before you move on to your next steps. As your candle cools, it will smooth out so try to exercise patience here!
Step 11 – Trim Your Wick
Once your candle has fully cooled, you can trim down your wick to the proper size. This is really up to you, but we recommend leaving approximately a ½ inch of wick outside the candle. This is a good length to properly light the candle without letting the flame get too large or out of control.
Step 12 – Remove Your Candle from the Mold (Optional)
If your goal was to make a pretty candle to go inside a cute jar or container, then you’re done! You can go ahead and light your candle and enjoy the beautiful smell in your home. If you were making a candle that you’d like to stand alone, outside a jar, it’s time to remove the wax from the mold. Use your mold release to remove the candle wax from the jar. Now, you’re done too!
How Do You Make a Candle Wick?
If you truly want to consider your candle homemade, you may want to make your own candle wick. Never fear- this is a pretty easy process. To start, you’ll want to grab a natural candle wick material. Cut this down to size. At this point you want your candle wick to be a few inches longer than your jar or container.
Now you will need to break out that hot glue gun. Go ahead and add some hot glue to one end of your candle wick. Then, play the hot-glued end down inside your jar, holding it against the center of the inside of your jar. This will help significantly in keeping your wick stable when you pour your hot wax in later.
Your next step is to loop the other end of your wick around a pencil. This will keep your wick stable from the top. Lay the pencil with the tied wick on top of your jar, and it will keep the wick standing up straight as you pour in your candle wax.
Once you’ve poured in your candle wax and allowed it to dry, you can remove the pencil and trim down your wick. Now you’ve made a homemade candle wick for your handmade candle. Give yourself a high five!
Tips and Tricks for Making a Candle
Now that you know how to make candles, it is time for a couple of tips and tricks to make the process easier. Follow this advice for a smooth and easy candle making process.
- Test all your fragrances before you use them. A scent might sound good on the bottle, and may even smell good in the bottle, but you may not love it once it’s in your candle. Test it to make sure it’s a fragrance you love!
- Test your colors. Different dyes can affect the way your candle cools and burns. Be sure to do a test to make sure your dye won’t adversely affect your candle.
- Check the temperature of your wax before adding your fragrance. Adding fragrance at the right time will ensure your scent is strong enough once the wax sets.
- If your candle is smoking, it could be because your wick is too long. Trim it back a bit, and the smoking should disappear.
- If you get air bubbles, you can tap the mold to release them. Although it’s hard to completely remove air bubbles, this can help. The best way to avoid air bubbles is not to allow your wax to cool too much before pouring it into your jar.
- You may notice that your fragrance seems to sink to the bottom of your candle. This is a sign that you’ve used too much! By using trial and error, you can determine just how much fragrance you’ll need to keep it evenly spread throughout your candle.
- You can cool your candle in warm water to ensure it doesn’t cool too fast. This will also help you prevent shrinkage and cracks.
Making candles at home is a fun and easy project. Once you’ve figured out how to make candles, you can make even more interesting or complicated designs. Perhaps you could even teach your friends how to make candles, or host a candle marking party! Don’t get discouraged if they’re not perfect the first time and keep having fun with your candles. After all, that’s what it’s all about.