My friend Liz is always inspiring me with her creativity. She's the one who taught me how to make soap, and when I saw her soy candles, I so much wanted to make those, too! After trying for months to plan a get-together so she could teach me how to make them, and each time having it fall through (busyness, sickness, etc.), I finally decided to teach myself! This tutorial is the result of all of my research.
First, you'll need some basic supplies. You need:
- Mason Jars (or other glass containers)
- Melting Pot/pitcher or an old saucepan to melt the wax in (link goes to melting pot I have)
- Larger pot to use as a double boiler, or you could use an actual double boiler
- Soy Wax (the link goes to the exact wax I used)
- Wicks (these are the wicks I used, but they'll need to be trimmed later)
- Scale (just a digital kitchen scale--I got mine at Walmart, and use it for candles and soap)
- Glue gun, superglue, or wick stickers
- Mixing spoon (I use an old wooden spoon I found at a flea market)
- Clothespins or something to hold the wicks straight
- Fragrance oil (a couple of my favorites are Vanilla Hazlenut and Vanilla) For each pound of wax I use about 2 oz. fragrance oil.
- Newspapers to protect counters
- Paper towels
First, lay out some newspapers to protect your table/counter. Then stick the wicks on the bottom of the clean jars using a glue gun or superglue. This just keeps the wicks in one place so they'll be straighter and not slide all over the place.
Add a few inches of water to the larger pot and set it on the stove. Let the water heat while you weigh the wax.
Using your scale, weigh the wax into your melting pot. The first time I made candles, I only made three. 1 lb. of wax filled three 8 oz. jars. The second time I made candles, I made six, and I used about 2.03 lbs of wax, and that filled the six (8 oz.) jars perfectly. Remember to use the tare function on the scale, so you aren't including the weight of your melting pot in the wax weight.
I also weigh out my fragrance oil (in a different container) at this time, if necessary.
Continue heating, stirring with your spoon, until the wax is completely melted.
Use the thermometer to measure the temperature of the wax (I keep it in there the whole time it's melting--just attach it to the side of your pot if you can--with less wax this may not be possible). There are different opinions on what temperature you should heat the wax to (and it may depend on the type of wax you're using), but I let mine get to about 170-180 degrees.
Once you have the wax at the right temperature (170-180 degrees), remove it from the heat.
Let the wax cool to around 140 degrees (or lower), and then add your fragrance oil Stir to completely blend in the scent with the wax. (I used 2 oz. of fragrance oil to 1 lb. wax).
You can pour the wax into the jars at any time after adding the fragrance oil (or, if you've decided to omit the fragrance, you can pour when the wax is the temperature you'd like). There are a lot of things to consider when pouring your wax, and one of them is that if you pour at too high of a temperature you might get "sinkholes," which are little holes that form in the top of your candle as it cools.
The first time I made soy candles, I poured at 140 degrees, and the tops of my candles were smooth and perfect. The second time, I decided to go with the instructions for my particular wax and container, and I poured at 155 degrees--and got sinkholes. So, the next time I will be pouring at a lower temperature.
The trick is that you don't want the wax to cool either too quickly or too slowly. A friend recommends pouring at around 100 degrees. I will definitely be using a lower temperature next time. At least 130 to 140 degrees, and definitely not at 155 like I did last time!
So, after you've added the fragrance oil, pour the wax slowly and carefully into the jars. You don't want any splashing to occur, as this can make air pockets in your candle. So just pour as slowly and evenly as you can.
Readjust your wicks to make sure they are centered and straight. Then let the candles cool, undisturbed. As they cool, you will notice that they will start to have a cloudy sort of appearance.
*Right after pouring candles, I clean my supplies by simply wiping them with a dry paper towel. Wipe the thermometer, the stirring spoon, and the melting pot thoroughly. This prevents the wax from drying and hardening on these items, and they're very easy to clean if you do it right away.
Eventually, the candles will be completely cooled and solid. You can then remove the clothespins from the wicks.
Enjoy the delicious fragrance permeating your kitchen (if you made scented candles)! When my husband and children came into the kitchen, they all wanted to know what the delicious smell was!
Let your candles cool completely at room temperature for at least 24 hours before burning. I've read that it's best to wait a couple of days before burning them, but if you just can't wait, at least wait 24 hours. After the candles have completely cooled, you can trim the wicks. You'll want to have them at about 1/4" before burning them (and I don't have them trimmed that short in these photos).
You can use the lids that came with your Mason jars (which looks simple and lovely):
Or, you can embellish them a little bit with decorative lids and maybe a bit of fabric or jute:
Add tags and a label to the bottom with instructions. I added a label that just said to keep wicks trimmed to 1/4", etc.
I packaged up these two for a friend's birthday gift:
We love having candles lit, especially in the fall and winter. But we burn them all year long and enjoy their warm glow.
There are so many variables to deal with when you're making candles. And I've only made them twice, so I don't have all the answers! But I thought I'd address a couple of things that can affect how your candles turn out.
1. Frosting. This happened to me with my first batch of candles. It was cold in the house, and I made the candles late in the evening. My husband turned the thermostat down before bed (as we always do), and it got very cold in the kitchen where my candles were cooling . As a result, they developed what is called "frosting," and it basically just has a whitish look around the sides of the candle. You may be able to see it in the photo below:
2. Sinkholes. This is what happens when you pour at too high of a temperature. The "ideal" temperature apparently varies (different people have different opinions), but lower is better! The first time I poured at 140-ish degrees, and the tops on my first batch were perfect and smooth. The second time I poured at around 150-155 degrees, and most of the candles got some little "sinkholes" in the tops of them. You might be able to see in the photo below, that the wax isn't perfectly smooth on the top:
So, simply pour your wax at a lower temperature and you can probably prevent or solve the sinkhole problem! The good thing about sinkholes is that they don't affect the way your candle burns. But when you're wanting to give them as gifts, they are less-than-perfect.
3. Make sure to center your wicks after you pour the wax into the jar! I moved my candles (it's best to leave them undisturbed while they're cooling), and the wicks slid ever-so-slightly to the side. When they were completely cooled, I noticed that they weren't perfectly centered, and I was disappointed that I had forgotten to re-center them.
So, learn from my mistakes, and maybe your first try will turn out perfect! Regardless, I have had so much fun making candles, and I plan to continue making them. They make wonderful gifts!
January 2014 Edit: I just wanted to add a little note here and say that all of the candles I made back in April and May (2013) have burned beautifully (including the ones with a bit of "frosting," and the ones with a few small sinkholes). I saved the best ones for gifts, and gave some at Mother's Day, birthdays, and Christmas. Everyone loves to receive a handmade candle for a gift! I enjoy using my candles, too. It's almost time to make some more!
Have you ever made candles?
Would you prefer a kit that's already put together for you? Try one of these.
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Linking to: The Modest Mom, A Mama's Story, Growing Home, Far Above Rubies, Raising Homemakers, Deep Roots at Home, The Better Mom, Little Natural Cottage