Maybe you’re new to the world of making candles, or perhaps you need a refresher on the best techniques to create unique candles. Perhaps you have an idea of the type of candles you want to make but don’t know where to begin. Whatever the case, what are the best practices you can use to make your own high-quality candles?
Making candles is an easy, low-cost hobby. You can make your own candles at home by following this easy seven-step process:
- Gather Materials
- Weigh ingredients
- Heat Wax
- Prepare Container
- Pour Candle
- Cure Candle
- Conduct Burn Test
Making candles is an easy hobby, accessible to anyone. Unlike other craft hobbies, it does not require a significant financial investment to get started. You can get started without buying any notable equipment at all, using items you already have in your kitchen, like a stove and pots, to heat the wax.
Even if you decide to purchase specialty equipment, however, you can outfit yourself with a complete candle-making kit for less than $100. Plus, you can buy the materials for your first batch of candles for less than $10. I challenge you to find another hobby that offers the low-cost satisfaction that comes with making your own craft candles.
Is Making Your Own Candles Difficult?
Not at all! Once you start making candles, you will probably find that you are not satisfied merely making them for yourself. After all, there is an infinite way to combine materials to create visually appealing and redolent candles, something you might want to share with others either as gifts or even possibly starting your own candle business.
Read on to find out what you need to do to start making your own candles!
Gathering materials might seem like such an obvious step when making anything that you’re probably asking why we took the time to include it on this list. The reason is that people are often disorganized in this critical planning step, resulting in poorly made candles.
Choose a Candle Recipe
Once you’ve had some experience, you can design your own candle recipes. However, if you are starting out, you probably want to go with a recipe someone else has already developed.
For beginners, I like this Easy Cinnamon Candle with Beeswax recipe that I found on Naturally Made Mom. Beeswax candles are so unique and healthy. I enjoy working with beeswax, though it’s challenging. If you can make a beeswax candle, you can make anything, and this recipe is excellent for beginners to try.
You can also watch this short video that will teach you to make candles with only two ingredients.
Choose Higher Quality
Choose the highest quality ingredients you can afford in your candles when possible. Notice I said “highest quality,” not “most expensive.”
Here is how you can source high-quality ingredients without paying premium prices:
- Buy from reputable merchants with an established history
- Be sure to check Better Business Bureau and other online reputation aggregators
- Read reviews for products you are buying
- Make sure you read ingredient lists to know what exactly you are buying
This last tip is essential. If you are just getting started in making your own candles, you might not know that waxes, for instance, are sometimes only advertised as the dominant ingredient. So, if you want to make a candle with 100% soy wax, make sure the formulation you buy is, in fact, pure soy.
The final step in gathering your materials is measuring them correctly. Wax, which is typically sold in flakes, must be combined with liquid fragrance oils. You need to know how much volume of the wax/oil mixture your container or jar will hold, which should be on the container’s label or item description.
Calculate Ingredient Needs
Here is how you calculate how much wax and oil to use in a candle:
- Start with the fill volume of the container
- Calculate the fragrance needed by multiplying the wax’s fragrance load by container fill volume to get fragrance used
- Subtract the fragrance used from the container fill volume to calculate the liquid wax volume you will need
- But since the wax is in a solid form, you need to convert it to grams by multiplying the volume by 0.83
That seems more complicated than it is, so let me walk you through an example:
- The jar you are using for your candle has a 250ml fill volume
- The recommended fragrance load for your wax-fragrance combination is 10% (you can almost always use 10%)
- .10 X 250=25ml, which is how much fragrance you will need to add
- 250-25-225ml, which is how much liquid wax you need to add
- 225 X .83= 186.75 grams, which is the weight of how much wax you will need to melt.
Use a precise digital scale when measuring wax. You can measure liquid fragrance using a measuring cup.
Now that you’ve chosen and carefully measured your ingredients, you are ready to heat your wax.
Some people heat their wax on the stove in a saucepan or even in a microwave in a container. To achieve optimal results, though, you need to use some kind of double boiler system. The inner container that directly holds the wax should have a pitcher-shaped spout.
A double boiler is a two-vessel system in which only the outer vessel is exposed directly to the heat source. The outer vessel holds water, which is used to heat the inner container. Think of a pot of boiling water inside of which there is a pitcher. The boiling water in the outer pot heats the pitcher. Only the outer pot is exposed directly to the heat.
You want to use a double boiler system because heating wax is a delicate proposition since wax burns quickly. Not only does burning harm the integrity of the wax, but it also poses a safety issue. Wax that is too hot can easily cause a fire. Using a double boiler ensures the wax in the inner container heats slowly and more evenly.
Dedicated Pouring Pitcher
Even if you are making candles for the first time, you should consider investing in a dedicated pouring pitcher. They are not very expensive and provide the best experience for smoothly melting candle wax.
I like aluminum pouring pitchers with wooden handles like this one from Scandinavian Candle Co. The black aluminum provides a nonstick surface for the wave, and the wooden handle is heat-resistant, meaning you should not have to resort to grabbing it with a towel or glove.
As you can see, even deluxe pouring pitchers like this one cost less than $20.
We are focusing on container candles, so the next step in our seven-step process is to get the candle container ready for pouring. This is something you can do as you heat the wax.
Make sure you use containers approved for candle making, such as ones you purchase from candle supply shops and thick glass jars.
Heat the Container
An often-overlooked step, you should preheat even approved candle containers. This stops the container from cracking as you pour the hot wax into it. It also prevents the unsightly horizontal lines of wax that sometimes form as you pour hot wax into a cooler container.
There are two ways you can preheat containers. You can gently heat the container using one of these heat guns, or you can put the containers in the oven on a low heating setting of about 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius) for at least ten minutes.
Affix the Wicks
After the container has been warmed, you need to affix your wick. To do this, secure the wick to the bottom of the container using a wick tab. This will stop the wick from moving as you pour the candle.
You also need to secure the wicks from above. You can use wick bars for this. They are reusable. If you don’t have wick bars, you can also use good old-fashioned clothespins. The length of the clothespin needs to be longer than the diameter of the container for this to work.
Once you have secured the wick from the bottom and the top, you are ready to pour your candle.
Pouring the candle might seem to be the most intimidating of all the candle steps, but I promise you, if you follow these directions and proceed carefully, there’s very little you can do to mess it up.
Right before you pour the candle is the right time to mix the fragrance with your heated wax. Pour the measured fragrance oil into the pouring pitcher and stir, so the fragrance is evenly distributed. I intentionally included this step under “pour candle” because there should not be any time between when you mix the fragrance into your wax and pour the candle.
Use a silicon stirrer or wax spatula to stir the mixture for the best results.
With the container on a flat surface, slowly pour the candle wax into it, ensuring the wax doesn’t overflow.
I cannot over-emphasize the importance of pouring slowly. A slow, deliberate pour helps to stop air bubbles from forming and wax splashing up on the sides of your candle container.
So now the candle has been poured, you’re finished, right? Wrong, there are two more steps to making your own candles, and they are just as important as the rest.
Curing your candle just means that you leave it undisturbed and flat in a warm, dry place for a designated period before you light your candle.
Curing Time Chart
Here is a chart I made with recommended curing times of some common waxes:
|Wax Type||Minimum Curing Time, Days|
As you can see, the curing time of different waxes varies widely and is one key drawback of using soy, which is an otherwise excellent wax.
Why Cure Candles?
While you may be tempted to light your candles up right away, if you don’t cure them for the proper time, you will find they don’t work as expected.
Curing is necessary to make sure the wax properly settles and hardens. It also makes sure that the fragrance binds correctly with the wax. If you fail to cure your candles, your candles might not have any scent throw at all.
Conduct a Burn Test
The last step of making your own candles is the most critical. You need to conduct a burn test. Burn tests should only be undertaken after you’ve cured the candle for the proper time.
Steps of the Burn Test
This is the proper way to conduct a burn test:
- Trim your candle wick to the appropriate length 1/8-1/4” above the wax surface
- Light the candle
- Allow the candle to burn for four hours
- Extinguish the candle, let it cool completely
- Continue to test in four-hour increments until the candle reaches its end of life
Why Conduct a Burn Test?
The most important use of a burn test is to identify any safety issues with your candle. Some things that you might see are excessive smoking from the wick, a flame that is more than 1/2” tall, or the wax burns unevenly. The surface of candle wax should remain roughly flat throughout a candle’s life.
If you have issues with the way your candle is burning, you need to change the size of your wick or make other alterations to your candle.
Secondarily, if you are making scented candles, you can see if you are achieving the expected scent throw with your candles. If not, there could be a problem with the amount of fragrance oil in your candles.
Frequenlty Asked Questions
A tunnel formed in my candle’s center. What caused it?
“Tunneling” occurs when the wick is not large enough for the diameter of the candle. The flame doesn’t burn high enough to heat the wax to the edge of the candle, so the wax doesn’t melt all the way to the container’s edge.
Why is my wick covered in black soot?
“Mushrooming” is usually an indication that you used too much fragrance oil or dyes in your candle. Time to go back to the drawing board and adjust your recipe to use fewer additives.
Looking to start your own candle making business, check out my startup documents here
Please note that the contents of this blog are for informational and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any action taken based on the information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Additionally, all images used in this blog are generated under the CC0 license of Creative Commons, which means they are free to use for any purpose without attribution.
Meet Shawn Chun: Entrepreneur and Candle Business Fan.
I’m a happy individual who happens to be an entrepreneur. I have owned several types of businesses in my life from a coffee shop to an import and export business to an online review business plus a few more and now I create online candle business resources for those interested in starting new ventures. It’s demanding work but I love it. I do it for those passionate about their business and their goals. That’s why when I meet a candle business owner at a craft fair, farmers market, retail location or anywhere else I see myself. I know how hard the struggle is to obtain and retain clients, finding good employees all while trying to stay competitive. That’s why I created Candle Business Boss: I want to help candle business owners like you build a thriving business that brings you endless joy and supports your ideal lifestyle.