Monday, May 6, 2013

Make Your Own Mason Jar Soy Candles {Tutorial}

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)
  • Thermometer 
  • 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.

Put clothespins over the jars.  I've decided that sticking the wick through the metal coil part of the spring holds the wicks better than actually clipping it.
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.
Add the melting pot filled with wax to your pot of simmering water.  The wax will slowly begin to melt.  Make sure you watch it carefully (don't walk off and leave it), as wax can catch fire (burst into flames) if it gets too hot.

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.  
Troubleshooting

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:
The two candles below also have "frosting," which is the white look on the sides.  Thankfully, since they are white candles, it's not really very noticeable, and it doesn't affect how the candle burns.  But to prevent this, try to make candles when it's warmer outside or when you can keep the heat turned up so that the room temperature is about 70 degrees, which is considered the ideal room temperature for cooling candles.
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

57 comments:

  1. Thank-you so much for posting how to make soy candles!! I am SO EXCITED to learn how to make them as well! Yours look beautiful Joy!! This will definately be a project for Emma and I in the near future. Blessings!

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    1. You're welcome, Kristin! Hope you have fun making them!

      Delete
    2. Hi, I wrote in to try to get information, I did this 2 times and 4 some reason it is not posting . I want to learn to make soy candles from home.
      I do not know what I need to start this or what it will cost. If You can give me any information. I would really appreciate it.
      My name is Mary Ann Premone.
      And my e- mail is Cuttiepants805@aol.com
      I hope to hear from someone soon.
      Thank You

      Delete
    3. Hi Mary Ann,

      All the supplies you'll need are listed in the post, and there are links to the supplies on Amazon. How much it costs will be determined by what you already have on hand, and from where you order the supplies. For instance, I already had the kitchen scale, jars, glue gun, mixing spoon, etc. I just needed to buy the wax, wicks, melting pot, candy thermometer, and fragrance oil. So, my costs may be lower than someone else's, since I already had those things on hand (and I actually haven't figured out how much I spent--maybe one day I'll try to do that!).

      A fairly easy way to figure out the cost might be to click on the Amazon links, decide what you need to order, and then add up the amount. If you have a local place where you can get supplies (for instance, I bought my candy thermometer and jars at my local grocery store), then you can base your costs on that. You might also be able to find things like a pot to melt the wax in at a local flea market or even garage sales. Garage sales are also sometimes a great place to find jars.

      Hope that's helpful to you!

      Delete
  2. Great tutorial, Joy! Quick question...for 3 candles, how much FO are you using (by weight)?

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    1. Thanks! For 3 candles I used 2 oz. of fragrance oil. (For each lb. of wax, I use about 2 oz. fragrance oil).

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  3. I love these!! What a great handmade gift!

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    1. They do make great gifts!

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  4. Thanks for sharing all the great tips!
    This would be a great project for a girls co~op my daughter
    and I are in~

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  5. I want to try this! It would make great Christmas gifts! Pinning for later use. I'm a little intimidated though! lol

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    1. You can do it, Dusty! It's really simple! :)

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  6. Oh I so want to try this. I have wanted to learn to make candles in a jar for years. Thanks for this post!

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    1. You're welcome, Jen! Have fun!

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  7. I love this! I will have to try it out. Do you know what the estimated start up cost was for you?

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    1. You know, I haven't estimated the start up cost yet! I bought a 10-lb bag of soy wax, and I still have A LOT left, so I'm not sure what it will turn out to be. I already had a lot of the supplies (jars, glue gun, clothespins, etc.), so it was mostly the wax and fragrance oil that made up the bulk of the cost. If I ever have time to do the math I'll add it to the post!

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  8. I love this post!! It's also among the top three most visited from last week, so will be featured tomorrow, pinned on Pinterest, and shared on FB and Twitter. Help yourself to a featured button tomorrow. :)

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    1. Thank you!! And thank you so much for featuring my post!! :)

      ♥Joy

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    2. I am writing, I am very interested, in making candles from home.
      I am tired of buying Yankee Candles all the time.
      I am new to this, I do not know what I need to start making candles from. And what it will cost ?
      If you can let me know what I need to get to start this, and what it will cost to get this started. Please let me know. Thank You
      Mary Ann

      Delete
  9. I love candles.
    I am so very tired of buying, Yankee Candles.
    I am really looking forward to making my own candles.
    And I want to see what it is going to cost, to start this, for myself.
    For gifts. I have never done this before, and I am really looking forward to doing this .
    I really do not know how many things I need, I need a list of everything I need and how much it will cost me. Please let me know everything I need, how to do it and what it will cost me ?
    Thank You
    In Advance
    Mary Ann

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous11/14/2013

      Mary Ann,
      The supply list is at the top of the post (the list of everything you need that you are asking for). The cost will vary depending on what you buy and where you purchase it from. Just do some research and you can figure it out on your own, you can do it!

      Delete
  10. Would you say that these are better than Yankee? Can you add more fragrance oil or is there a limit? I'd love to try making my own, but if they're not as fragrant as Yankee or some other brands, I'd rather not.

    What a gorgeous job you've done! Thank you for sharing this post!

    Mrs. W.

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    1. Hi Mrs. W,

      As far as scent strength, I would not say these are better than Yankee. I have a vanilla Yankee candle that someone gave me as a gift, and it fills the room with a delicious vanilla fragrance. These candles don't seem to be as strongly scented. I do prefer soy wax over paraffin, but that might be the only advantage. I pretty much make them for gifts, and people love to receive a handmade candle for a gift. :)

      I haven't tried increasing the amount of fragrance oil, and from what I've read it depends on the type/brand of soy wax you use. Each wax has a different limit for the amount of fragrance. If you'd like to look into it more, you may find some answers here:

      http://www.candlescience.com/faq/7/fragrance-oil/

      Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment!

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    2. In my personal experience as a novice candle maker, adding MORE than 2 ounces of Fragrance oil to a pound of Soy Wax will eventually result in the oil working it's way to the surface and also to a less than perfect burn. 2 ounces is the maximum that I use.

      Delete
  11. Hi Joy,
    My 11 year old son wanted some sort of way to make money, so we made these candles this afternoon! Your tutorial was perfect! Your directions were very clear, and he was able to do it easily with my supervision! We made 12 total and so far it looks like they are drying without sinkholes! Thank you for this tutorial!
    Tricia

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    1. I hope they turn out perfectly for your son, Tricia! And thanks so much for letting me know that the tutorial was helpful to you! It's so nice to receive positive feedback! :)

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  12. Check out Pick Your Plum if you like the daisy cut lids. They are selling them right now for $7 per dozen. Much cheaper than Amazon!

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    1. Thanks for letting me know, Amanda! I love the daisy cut lids! I bought mine from Candle Science, and I still have a supply of them, but I'll be sure to check out Pick Your Plum next time I need some. Thanks again!

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  13. Anonymous10/13/2013

    Wonderful directions. Also great pictures!.

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  14. Could you tell me what type of soy wax you used??

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    1. Ecosoya CB 135 10 lb. Bag from CandleScience.

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  15. Anonymous11/13/2013

    Where did you get the cutout lids?

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  16. Cindy Stroupe11/13/2013

    What type and size wick did you use with this size jar? I make candles and have a lot of these jelly jars. yours look very lovely!

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    1. Hi Cindy!

      Thanks so much for your comment! I used LX 16 6" Pretabbed wicks from CandleScience. Hope that helps.

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  17. Hi! I'm wondering - can you use pure essential oils in this instead of a fragrance oil? We've got allergies with synthetic fragrances here. How much essential oil would you use? Thanks!

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    1. Hi Jennifer! I don't know about the essential oils, as I've never tried that or researched it before. The fragrance oil is specifically created for candles and similar applications.

      It seems like I remember hearing of someone who made the candles without any fragrance, and then when she was ready to burn the candles, she added some drops of essential oil on top so the fragrance would be diffused. But I can't vouch for the safety of that, since I haven't researched it.

      Sorry I can't be of more help with that!

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  18. I'm obsessed with creme Brulee scent and i see it on your label in the picture. Can you please tell me how you made that fragrance or where you bought it? Thank you!

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    1. Hi Tonya! That's one of my favorite scents, too. I got that one from CandleScience. Hope that helps!

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  19. Anonymous3/05/2014

    I am a smoker ( bad habit) and I have bought smoke eater candles but they are very expensive. Is there something that could be put in these soy candles that would have the same effect??? Thank you and I am going to be trying to make these candles as your instructions are so easy to follow....

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    1. I don't have any experience with that, sorry!

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    2. Anonymous4/08/2014

      Hi,

      I have a mother-in-law that smokes and I saw Candle Science has an Smoke and Odor eliminator oil in various sizes. I purchased it and have not tried it in any of my candles yet. Try it out and see if it helps

      Delete
  20. Anonymous3/23/2014

    Where did you find those tags? I love them

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    Replies
    1. One of them came with a gift basket, and I just repurposed it for my candles. The other one came in a package, maybe from Hobby Lobby? I'm not really sure. They were just some odds and ends I found in my crafting stash. :)

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  21. Blanca3/27/2014

    I love this instructions! The candles burned so amazing when I followed these instructions. Question: I followed candlescience (same oils I used) instructions from their website, the third time I made candles, and they tell you to add the fragrance in at 185. I do not feel that the fragrance was as strong as the ones I made following your directions. Any input as to why?

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    1. Thank you, Blanca! I'm so glad they worked out well for you! I really don't know why the fragrance wouldn't be as strong when you followed the other instructions. Sorry I can't be of more help--I just found this method works for me, so I keep doing it this way! :)

      Delete
  22. Naomi Hagen4/04/2014

    Joy, Thank you so much for your helpful and clear instructions! My son and I are trying our hand at candle-making to fund a service trip for ourselves. It's been really fun for both of us! I also used supplies from candlescience, specifically the Golden Brands 464 wax, and have really liked them. I'm getting ready to order more now to keep experimenting.

    I am getting pock marks and craters on my candles, so continue to experiment with temperatures and cooling. It gets confusing, because it seems everyone has a different opinion. Fortunately, I have a heat gun from another project and am going to try and smooth the tops with that today.

    Your tip about using the clothes pins was creative and brilliant! That's worked really well for me, and I've even been clipping the "loose" end of the wick into the clip itself to hold it taut and straight while the candles cool.

    Thanks again for taking the time to post your detailed, helpful directions! You've made the beginning steps much easier for me!

    Naomi

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    1. Thank you so much, Naomi! I'm so glad the instructions were helpful to you!

      I know what you mean about how confusing it can be to get the glitches worked out--it does seem like everyone has a different opinion and even different instructions when it comes to candle-making. There are so many variables to consider.

      That's sweet that you and your son are enjoying the experience together!

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  23. Anonymous9/15/2014

    This easy guide to making soy wax candles is fabulous. I have made quite a few in the past 6 months and have also managed to sell some of them ! As you say they make the perfect gift and they are wonderful to have in the home. You can make them for every room and when they burn the smell is just divine. Thank you

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    1. Thank you so much for the positive feedback! I'm so glad you've had such great success, and I'm so glad I could help!

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  24. Anonymous9/21/2014

    Hello,

    I was reading your tutorial and if you don't mind I would like to add a few comments as I make candles for a side job as a living.

    2 oz of fragrance oil per 1 pound of wax is extremely way too much. Back the oil down to 1 oz per pound. This is pretty much the general rule of most chandlers when making candles. A good temperature to add the fragrance is generally about 185 degrees and you need to stir stir very well to mix the oil and wax. I would stir for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. And when you are ready to pour, stir again and pour very slowly into your jar so as to avoid air pockets/bubbles. Wax can only hold so much oil per pound and it can also clog the wick thus making a pooly scented candle and not make a properly burning candle. Using this much oil could cause the candle to seep oil on top and even cause combustion/fire....And this undoubtedly is why there is not much scent. Also did you cure your candles? Meaning, they need to sit a week or 2 for the oil and wax to bind together.

    Making candles and selling right away is very serious business. It takes a very very long time, even years to perfect and to sell to the public or a fund raiser by just making a few candles is not something I would recommend for any novice. Different fragrances used take different size wicks and they need to be tested each candle and burned for testing purposes right down to the very end of your burn cycle. If you use an lx 16 wick for example on 1 fragrance in the particular jar you use, if might not work in a lighter weight fragrance. This would need a smaller wick. Candle making is all about testing, testing and testing. It is not an instant over night process but months and months or years. Also deep melt pools with high flames can be a fire hazard. There is so very much to learn about candle making. Joining a candle forum is a recommendation to learn about the process I highly recommend. To try and sell to the public after making a few candles I would definitely not recommend and especially a a fund raiser makes me shudder for someone just learning and thinking they are good enough to sell as believe me, they are not. You need insurance, caution labels, proper labels on jars with company name to keep your butt covered.

    Candle making is fun and I love it. Enjoy it. I didn't put this post up to offend anyone. I just tried to make suggestions to help and explain the proper ways to go about. Thankyou and everyone enjoy!

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    1. Thanks for offering your suggestions--there's always room for learning and improvement in any venture!

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  25. Regina Hoskins9/29/2014

    Love this! You made this look so easy~i am going to try this for sure! Thank you so much for sharing. I am addicted to candles and tarts....

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    1. If you try making them, I hope they work out well for you!

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment!