At any given time, there’s usually around 3-4 candles burning in my house. I’m obsessed with the warm glow, cozy feeling that they give off, and obviously the yummy scents. But, I just can’t deal with paying the prices that retailers charge for something that’s so easily made, so off I went to the craft store to see about starting some candlemaking.
To get started, I decided to pick up a kit that had a little bit of everything I needed to experiment with. Candle making supplies are somewhat limited in my area, but I was able to find a molded candles kit by Craft Candles at my local Hobby Lobby. This kit is made for making molded, pillar candles, but is easily adapted to make poured candles.
This particular kit comes with a mold, three pounds of paraffin wax, 2 feet of braided wick, mold sealer, two craft sticks, candle colors in red, blue, and yellow, and candle scents. The contents of the box only listed one scent, Jasmine, but this kit happened to have two scents inside, which may have been a packaging error, but worked out for the best, as Jasmine really isn’t my favorite smell. This kit also comes with stearic acid, an additive used in candlemaking to assist in increasing burn time and opacity, and also Vybar, also an additive used in molded candle making particularly.
The kit is definitely a good starting point for anyone interested in candlemaking, but unfortunately, the directions provided are vague at best. If you’ve never made a candle before, I would think that this kit would be pretty frustrating to use. Luckily, I’ve had experience, and was able to adapt the kit to make poured candles pretty easily.
To make poured candles, you’ll need a couple other supplies not included in the molded candle kit:
Metal Wick Sustainers
Container of your choice
Hot glue gun
Small pair of pliers
Step 1: Select your container. You can make a poured candle in just about any glass, ceramic, etc. container, but for a beginner, I would recommend using a mason jar to get started. The high temperatures of the melted paraffin wax can shatter some containers very easily. Mason jars are meant to withstand high temperatures, so they’re the safest bet to get started. For this tutorial, I picked up some widemouth, pint size mason jars on sale at my local Hobby Lobby.
Step 2: Prepare and place your wick. There are a variety of wicks available in store. For a true beginner, you may want to pick up wicks at your local craft store that are prewaxed and already set in metal wick sustainers. For this project, I used rope wick and set it myself in metal wick sustainers. To do this, simply slide your wick into the top of the wick sustainer, and crimp it with your craft pliers.
After you’ve secured the wick into the wick sustainer, you’ll then need to secure the wick sustainer to the bottom of your container. Every candle maker has their own way of doing this. My preferred method is to place a dollop of hot glue onto the bottom of the wick sustainer, and then carefully lower it into the middle of the bottom of the mason jar, pressing it down with a craft stick. After you’ve pressed it down and held for a few seconds to allow the glue to adhere, you’ll then want to wrap your wick around your craft stick, and place it across the top of the mason jar, as pictured below:
This will keep your wick centered and upright while you pour your candles.
Step 3: Melt your wax. There’s a variety of different kinds of wax available for candlemaking, but for this particular tutorial, I used paraffin wax. Paraffin wax tends to be the cheapest wax to purchase, and is available in most craft stores. I melted my wax in a small, old cooking pot that I had around the house. Most craft stores also carry special metal melting pots with pouring spouts. This may be a little bit easier to work with, but I’ve never personally used one.
Note: As I’ve made candles frequently before, I don’t use a thermometer. But, I don’t recommend this for beginners. Paraffin wax is flammable, and I would strongly recommend using a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature of your wax. Mostly all store-bought wax will list the appropriate melting and pouring temperatures for that particular wax, and you should abide by the directions provided on the wax.
These particular candles used just around two of the small Craft Candles paraffin wax blocks provided in the kit.
You’ll want to cut your wax into small chunks using a good sharp knife. This can be a little difficult to do, so be very careful when cutting the wax to make sure you don’t cut yourself as well!
After cutting the wax into small chunks, place into your pan and turn onto the lowest heat that you can. You’ll want to slowly melt the wax, making sure you don’t overheat it.
Be patient with the melting process. Depending on the amount of wax, it can take up to around 20 minutes to completely liquify. Occasionally stir the wax with your craft stick during melting.
Step 4: Add your scent/color/additives: After your wax is completely liquified, turn off the heat. After the heat is off, you can begin to add your scents, colors, and additives. My preferred method of doing this is to start with color. Getting the perfect candle color takes practice, and can be difficult to judge, as the colors will change dramatically during cooling. I wanted an orange-colored candle for this tutorial, so I used a few drops of red, and a few of yellow, stiring with my craft stick until I reached the desired color.
After you’ve added your color, you can then add any additives, such as Vybar, or Stearic Acid, if you desire. These additives are not necessary for poured candles like this, but some candle makers prefer to use them. I did not use either for this tutorial.
After you’ve added any additives, you can add your scent. The amount of scent to use is all based on personal preference. I like strong candles, so I used around 15-20 drops of scent per candle. For this candle, I chose the “Banana Nut” scent, and it was amazing. My kitchen smelled like heaven for hours and hours after the candles were complete.
Step 5: Pour your candle. Opinion on the perfect temperature to pour your candle at varies by candlemaker, and also by the materials used. For poured mason jar candles, I like to allow the wax a few minutes to cool slightly, just to the point that it will begin to stick to my craft stick. After your wax has reached this point, make sure your wick is still centered in your mason jar, and then carefully and slowly pour your candle.
I prefer to pour these candles initially to the first thread for the metal lid. It’s important to remember when pouring to save a small amount of wax in your pan for topping off your candle later. Most wax, especially paraffin, has a tendency to sink and pit around the wick during cooling. Because of this, you’ll likely end up wanting to top off your candle to make it flat on the top. Let the remaining wax cool in your pan; you can remelt it as necessary.
Step 6: Let you candle cool. Cooling time varies, but I generally like to let my candles cool for 5-6 hours initially. This will allow the wax to mostly solidify. I do not recommend trying to advance cooling in a refrigerator, as you’ll see in some tutorials. Cooling in a refrigerator is fine with molded candles, but poured candles in glass or ceramic can shatter if you try and accelerate cooling.
Step 7: Top off your candle, if necessary. After 5-6 hours, check your candle for any drooping around the wick. If your wax has settled and you’re left with a gap around the wick, you can remelt your wax that you reserved in your pan as you did initially, and carefully pour the remelted wax into the pitted space around the wick. For these particular candles, one top off was sufficient. Occasionally, you may have to top off more than once, but that will vary by the wax used and temperatures.
Step 8: Trim your wick. After all wax has completely cooled, you can trim your wick down to around 1/4″ and remove your craft stick.
Step 9: Enjoy your candle! Your candle is now complete! For these candles, I added a little bit of gold-flecked crochet thread to decorate the jars.
As you can see, the color changed to a very light peach during cooling, but I was happy with the way it came out. These candles make great gifts, and could be adapted for really any occasion.