If you are looking for an engaging hobby or perhaps thinking of starting your own low-cost business, look no further than candle-making. You can begin making candles with almost no materials, just wax and a wick, and you can work your way to more complex, scented candles with unique colors and other effects. What is a good step-by-step process of making your first candles?
You can make your first candles with supplies you have around your own home, including a pot, a thermometer, and a limited number of other materials. Here is a step-by-step process you can use to make your first candles:
- Order Supplies
- Prepare Ingredients
- Heat Wax
- Add Fragrance
- Pour Candle
I put together this tutorial to show you how easy it is to make a scented candle. You can also use this process to make ordinary candles—merely skip the step where you add the fragrance.
Is It Difficult to Make Candles at Home?
People have been making candles at home for thousands of years. You just need to follow a step-by-step process like this one to be successful.
In the United States alone, candles are a multi-billion dollar industry. Candles are appropriate gifts for every occasion, and you can comfortably burn them in your home year-round.
Hobbies like candle-making have many rewards, including physical and mental health benefits. So, if you have been thinking about acquiring a new hobby, look no further than this tutorial to start making your own candles at home!
The first thing you will need to start making your own candles is to gather some basic equipment and supplies.
At a minimum, the candle components you need are wax, wicks, containers, and fragrance if you are making a scented candle.
But what kind of wax is best? For new candlemakers, I always recommend using paraffin or soy wax. These waxes are easy to work with and inexpensive. Paraffin is the cheapest wax and is petroleum-based, while soy wax is slightly more expensive and made from hydrogenated soybeans.
For wicks, choosing the right size wick is essential. It’s best to consult a chart to figure out what size wick you need. Wick size is based on the wax and the diameter of your candle container.
Candle Science has a wick calculator that is easy to use. All you need to do is enter your wax and diameter, and they will recommend a wick for you. They also sell wicks, wax, containers, and other supplies and equipment.
For beginners, I recommend round containers made of heat-resistant materials. You can use upcycled items like mason jars, but it is better to use containers specifically sold as candle vessels.
Finally, you need to get some fragrance oil. If you are new to the art of candle-making, always opt for fragrance oil instead of other scent enhancers like essential oils or other additives. Fragrance oils are specifically formulated for candle making and will safely and effectively give your candles a good scent throw.
You may not need to purchase any equipment to start making candles. If you aren’t ready to invest in items created specifically for candle-making, you can substitute for things you already have in your kitchen.
For your wax container, you can buy a pouring pitcher, like this one from Scandinavian Candle Co (which is my favorite pouring pitcher ever), or you can use a large aluminum can.
I don’t like the can option myself because it doesn’t have a heat-proof handle or a spout, both of which will make pouring the candle substantially easier. Still, plenty of people use large aluminum cans to serve as wax heating receptacles, especially when starting.
Your candle wax will need to be at a specific temperature, especially if you’re adding fragrance oil, which is why I like this one, but any candy thermometer will do. You can also use a meat thermometer, which only costs a few bucks, and which you probably already have in your kitchen.
You may also decide
To get a super-accurate digital scale to precisely weigh yourcandle wax, which will come in solid form.
While it might be a bit pricey for new candlemakers, the My Weigh Digital Kitchen and Craft scale is a nice option. It works with multiple measurement scales to make converting grams to ounces easy, which you will need since there are plenty of candle recipes that use different formats.
Whatever you do, don’t try to get around weighing your wax by using a measuring cup or other workarounds. Not having the right amount of wax will give you a nasty surprise when it comes time to burn test your candle.
However, you will need a measuring cup for liquid additives like fragrance and some dyes.
One more thing you may want to purchase is a silicon stirring stick. These are great for working with wax. You can also use any long thin spoon or stirring stick already in your kitchen.
That’s all you need to get started. Now on to making your first scented candle!
Next, it’s time to prepare your ingredients. As in cooking, proper preparation is crucial. You want to have everything measured, prepped, and laid out before you start heating the wax.
As mentioned above, measuring is important. It can be confusing to new candlemakers, however, since you are working with both solids and liquids. Solids are typically measured by weight, while liquids are measured by volume.
Here is how to calculate your wax and fragrance needs to make your first container:
- Know the full volume of the container. If buying from a candle supplier, this will be in ounces or milliliters and listed under the item’s description. In this 4 oz. jelly jar, for example, the weight of the wax needed to reach the fill line is 3.2 ounces, which is mentioned in the description. Sometimes you might have to convert the liquid volume to find the weight of your wax, but candle supply shops almost always do the math for you.
- Multiply the wax’s fragrance load by container volume to determine how much fragrance oil you need. The fragrance load is also mentioned in the description. This soy wax has a maximum fragrance load of 10%, so if you wanted to use maximum fragrance, you would multiply 3.2 x .10 = .32 ounces, which is how much fragrance oil you will need to add to fill your 3.2-ounce container.
- Then calculate the wax you need by subtracting the fragrance oil from the wax, 3.2-.32= 2.8 ounces of wax you need. If you aren’t using fragrance, you can just melt 3.2 ounces of wax for the candle.
Set your Wick
Most commercially available wicks come already connected to a wick tab. I highly recommend using pre-tabbed wicks, especially if you are just starting out.
To set your wick, dab a bit of craft glue on the bottom of the wick tab and press it firmly to the center of the container’s bottom. Then you put a clothespin to hold the wick upright. Your container and wick should look something like this, except you haven’t poured the wax yet.
Heat Your Wax
It’s been fun up to this point, but now it’s time for the real fun to begin.
How to Heat Your Wax
The methods of heating candle wax are as varied as scents available for candles, which is to say they are diverse indeed. People use everything from microwaves to crockpots to heat their wax. I recommend your stove and a double boiler system.
You can use any pot or saucepan filled with water for the outer boiler. Place your wax into the wax receptacle, whether you are using a pouring pitcher or an aluminum can, and place that into the water of the outer boiler. Then turn on the stove, which will heat the outer pan, which will, in turn, heat the water, which will then heat the pouring pitcher, which will finally heat the wax.
By using this double boiler system, you will have a far easier time controlling the heat, so the wax doesn’t get too hot too quickly and burns.
How Hot to Heat Your Wax?
Especially when making scented candles, you need to heat the wax to a specific temperature. If you don’t, the fragrance oil will not bind correctly to the wax, and you risk creating a candle with a scented that is seriously underwhelming.
How hot you heat your wax is related to the type of wax you are using, precisely, the formulation of wax.
Most soy wax can accept fragrance oil between 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit (82-85 degrees Celsius), while with paraffin, it depends on the blend you are using. You can check out this chart with some guidelines on appropriate wax temperatures or check the description of the candle wax when you buy it.
If you aren’t making a scented candle, you can skip this text and proceed to the final step of pouring your candle.
Make Sure You Stir Well!
Now that your wax is in the desired temperature range, it’s time to add your fragrance oils. Once you add the oil to the wax, stir the mixture for three to five minutes to help the oil evenly distribute and correctly bind to the wax.
Silicon stirrers work best because it is easy to clean the wax off them. You can also use any stirring spoon that reaches the bottom of the container with enough clearance at the top that your hand doesn’t come too close to the hot wax mixture.
Now you are almost done! All you have left is to pour your candle.
My only advice for this step is to be careful not to burn yourself. Once you pour your candle, remove the clothespin holding up the wick only after the wax has solidified. Your candle is still not ready to use at this point because you have one more step…
Don’t Forget to Cure!
Curing your candle means you leave it on a flat surface in a warm and dry place for a certain period. Especially important for scented candles, this ensures the wax hardens appropriately, and the fragrance oils continue to bind to the wax for maximum scent throw.
When working with paraffin, you need to cure your candles for two days, but when working with soy, you should cure your candles for two weeks. This is the only real drawback to working with soy wax, but for many people, it is significant enough to cause them to go with paraffin instead.
Frequently Asked Questions
Besides paraffin and soy wax, are there other waxes for candle-making?
Yes! Beeswax candles have been around for several thousand years. Since Michael Richards invented soy wax in 1991, other plant-based waxes have joined it, including coconut and palm waxes. People who live a vegan lifestyle prefer these plant-based waxes.
What is the world’s oldest candlemaker?
Imagine running a business for almost four centuries! That’s how long the Cire Trudon enterprise has supplied candles to French cathedrals. Founded in 1643, Cire Trudon is the oldest candle-making company. It is still going strong, having recently opened a branch in New York City.
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.