How To: Make Your Own Candles

Rachel/November 25, 2012

We know, gift giving is hard. And those giant candles that smell of “pie” that your mom puts around the house during holiday gatherings are making you want to do anything but eat pie. So in an effort to save up for all those other gifts and to have something more unique, we decided to make our own candles for our holiday get-togethers, and for gifting to our loved ones. It’s a somewhat easy process, but because it does involve heat and flame, we should tell you to please be careful and to have some adult supervision if necessary.

Step 1: Supplies and waxes. Many of the necessary supplies needed for making candles at home can be found at your local craft store (or ordered online), and are fairly inexpensive. You can also recycle the wax from old candles, but maybe skip those pie-scented ones.

  •  You will need:
  • A pouring pot
  • Wax flakes or old candles to reuse
  • Wicks, and some wick sticky thingies (they exist)
  • A wick holder, a pencil, or some chopsticks and rubber bands
  • A wooden spoon
  • Scented oil of your choice, if you like
  • Containers of your choice
  • Matches, or a lighter

As mentioned, most of these items can be purchased at any craft store, in separate pieces or as a candle-making kit if you decide you’d prefer to use a kit. We like to throw caution to the wind and skip the kit. There are different types of waxes, which is mostly up to personal preference, and some are available in different colors. Scented oils or colorings for the wax are optional, and can be found in the same aisle. If you are recycling candles you already have, they probably already have a scent or a color, and we think recycling is cool.

Step 2: Your containers. Of course, you can buy candle molds or containers at that same craft store, and they may even be included in that kit. Or, you can skip the boring votives and get really creative – even a little crazy – with it. Check out your favorite thrift stores for vintage tins or glassware, gather mis-matched jars and teacups, or find some funny novelty mugs for really personalized candles. Just remember that a thinner glass can crack under the heat of a flame. If you’re feeling really festive, you can hollow out mini pumpkins, gourds or apples, or use hollow sea shells or oyster shells. You can use almost anything that can hold a little liquid and stand some heat, and it can really make your candles stand out.

Step 3: Prep. Whatever your chosen container, you’ll need to get them ready to become candles. Cut and straighten out your wicks if needed, and stick them to the bottom. Some wicks come with a sticky thing for this purpose, or you can buy some sticky thingies, or you can use a dab of glue. In order to keep your wicks standing up when you get to pouring wax, use a wick holder or fashion one yourself by wrapping rubber bands around each end of a set of chopsticks with the wick held in between, or simply rolling the end of the wick around a pencil. Whatever is holding your wick sits on top of your container, so the wick sticks up straight.

Step 4: Wax! Put your pouring pot on a burner on low to medium heat. A pouring pot is just like a regular pot, but designed specifically for easy pouring. If you don’t have a pouring pot, you can also use a double boiling method by boiling water into a large pot and melting the wax in a sauce pan placed on top. If you are recycling candles, you will need to try and remove the old wicks, or you can just fish them out once the wax starts melting. If you are using scented oils, add them in now.

Step 5: Almost there. Once the wax is melted and smooth, pour into your mason jar, mini pumpkin, or other container, and let sit for a while or overnight. Once the wax hardens, cut down your wick to about 1/2 inch. You now have candles.

Now, your handmade candles are ready to light (or to gift wrap). This is when you use a lighter or matches with proper care and supervision. If you’re gifting your candles, you probably shouldn’t light them first.

If you made your candles inside something edible, they’d look great as a centerpiece for your next holiday meal or party. If you used something plain and simple, you can decorate your containers however you like with paint or if they are clear glass, with colored tissue paper and a little watered-down glue for a stained glass effect. If you used a mason jar, you can replace the inner seal part of the lid with a piece of fabric or paper to make a personalized gift. If your candles came out looking a little wonky, just go with it. You now have totally handmade, unique and personal – maybe even recycled – gifts or decorations for the holidays. Cheers!

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