Who doesn’t love candles? Homemade candles have become an essential home decor item. So let’s move on to learn how to make scented candles and we’ve covered nearly every type of wax for making homemade candles.
So you want to make your own candles? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Today I’m going to go through everything you need to know to get started with your candle making. As this is a very basic homemade candles guide, I’ll be making use of paraffin wax in all the candles I’ll be showing you in this post.
I’m going to walk you through exactly how to use a candle mold, how to color them in interesting ways and finally, how to make use of fragrance and essential oils to scent your candles! If you’ve never experimented with candlemaking before, this post should serve you well.
Although it’d be good to read everything this page has to offer, once you get started this page will make a great referencing guide. To make it easier for you to dip in and out of different sections, here’s a contents table for your convenience!
Everything You Need To Get Started With Candle Making
Candle Making Wax
When considering candle wax there’s a few options available. I’ve written a whole page detailing the four main types of candle making wax, paraffin, soy, beeswax, and gel.
Paraffin wax is the cheapest and most readily available candle wax. Thus, for this basics page, we’ll be using this type of wax. How much to use will depend on how large of a mold or container you have.
the best wax for candle making
Fill your mold or container with water and empty it out into a measuring jug or cylinder. Water weighs the same as its volume in metric, so you could also weigh it in grams. Once you have this measurement, subtract 20% and this will be exactly how much wax will be needed to fill your mold or container. This is specific to paraffin wax; I discuss how to work out how much soy wax you’ll need for a container here.
Sinkage and imperfections can be a real issue for most candle makers, so add a bit extra so we can top up and prevent any sink holes when needed. An extra 10 grams should usually do it for a medium sized candle. As you become more experienced, waste will most certainly decrease. But if you’ve got wax left over when you’re completely finished, bag it up and use it for our tea light candles!
Candle Wick (and stabilizer if you’re planning on using a container rather than a mold)
the best candle wicks
The correct sized candle wick is important, so I’ve decided to dedicate an entire post to just wicks. I discuss everything you need to know about wicking a candle (including using wooden and multiple wicks in a single candle!).
But as a general guide until then, a small candle (25-55mm) will probably need an LX wick size 10, a medium sized (65-75) should probably need an LX16 and a large candle (up to about 100mm) should need an LX26.
Candle Dye (block or flakes)
Fragrance Oils or Essential Oils
Candle Mold (metal, plastic or silicone)
Candle Jars (glass or metal)
Double Boiler/Bain Marie
Wick Holder or pencil (optional)
Candle Mold Sealer (optional)
Thermometer & Glue Gun (optional)
Grease proof paper/Baking parchment
A skewer or bamboo stick
For a detailed look at all of these items take a look at the complete candle making supplies guide.
Basic Candle Making With Molds
So, to start off today I’m going to go through, step by step, making the most basic and universally recognized candle, the pillar. I will be using a metal mold for this, as they are the easiest to use and the best quality molds you can buy. I will also discuss how to avoid the dreaded sink hole, the bane of all candle makers!
After, I will discuss other types of molds you can make use of when making your own candles, including plastic and silicone. There are lots of pros and cons to making use of molds created from various materials, so we’ll go through them and you can make an informed decision before you part with your hard-earned cash.
A Basic DIY Pillar Candle
Step 1: Use a double boiler to melt your paraffin wax. If you don’t have a double boiler put a pan half-filled with water to boil on the stove. Once it’s boiling, turn down the heat so it is only simmering and place a metal or heat proof glass bowl on the rim of the pan so that the base is only just touching the water.
To begin making your candle use a double boiler to melt your paraffin wax.
This is an easy way of getting your wax melted without it getting too hot and burning off. Your wax will take a few minutes to melt and should be totally transparent once it has.
Your wax will take a few minutes to melt and should be totally transparent once it has.
Step 2: While you’re waiting for your wax to melt, you can wick your mold. Thread your wicking needle and push it through the hole of your mold. De-thread your needle and put it to one side, leaving just your wick threaded through the hole at the base of your mold. There should be enough length so that the wick extends beyond the open top of your mold a few inches (not the hole at the base).
Thread your wicking needle and push it through the hole of your candle mold
Now you’ll want to make sure that no wax can escape out through the bottom of the mold. To do this, take some of your candle sealant (blue tack or preferably white tack can be used as substitute) and plug the hole on the outside of the base of your mold. You can also wrap it round the wick so that it doesn’t move through the hole.
take some of your candle sealant and plug the hole on the outside of the base of your mold.
The mold can then be placed right way up. The remaining of your wick then needs to be threaded through your wick holder or wrapped around a pencil that sits on top of the mold. This should make sure your wick is completely straight when you pour your wax.
The remaining of your wick then needs to be threaded through your wick holder or wrapped around a pencil that sits on top of the mold.
Step 3: By this point, your wax should be completely melted. Check the temperature with a temp gun or a thermometer. You want your wax to be relatively hot when you pour so that you get a nice glossy exterior of your candle. For paraffin wax, I recommend a pouring temperature of between 180-190F.
Although not absolutely necessary, I find warming the mold before pouring also helps to get that smooth surface on a candle. You can do this by resting the mold on a radiator, or popping it into a warm (but not hot) oven for a couple of minutes.
When it’s time to pour, make sure your wick holder/pencil stays in place and that you pour at a slow, steady pace. This will make sure your candle burns properly and that you don’t introduce any air bubbles into the wax as you pour. If you find that the wick holder is getting in the way while you’re trying to pour the wax, move it off center and then return it once you’ve finished pouring.
When it’s time to pour, make sure your wick holder/pencil stays in place and that you pour at a slow, steady pace.
Put your excess wax to one side, as we’ll be making use of that later on.
Step 4: Keep an eye on your DIY candle over the next few hours, waiting for it to begin to harden. This can take about 2 hours, but be sure not to let it completely cool. Once you’ve reached this stage, grab your skewer or bamboo stick and push vertically into your wax, leaving behind a hole that extends down leaving roughly an inch on the bottom of your mold.
grab your skewer or bamboo stick and push vertically into your wax, leaving behind a hole that extends down leaving roughly an inch on the bottom of your mold.
This sounds crazy, but you’ll want to do this a few times around your wick, but being careful not to disturb it. This should allow your wax to contract as it cools without creating horrible sink holes. Once your candle has cooled, top up with your excess wax, filling the holes you have made as you go. Your candle should then cool once more with a lovely flat surface on the bottom.
Once your candle has cooled, top up with your excess wax, filling the holes you have made as you go.
Step 5: Once your candle has cooled, gently work it out of the mold. If you’re struggling, pop it into the fridge for about 20 minutes, but with a metal mold you shouldn’t have too much difficulty getting it out.
Once it’s out, trim your wick at both ends and it’ll be ready to burn! I recommend leaving them for a couple of days before you burn or gift them, but otherwise you’re all finished!
diy pillar candle that will impress your friends
Candlemaking Molds Of Other Materials
So you’ve seen me use a metal mold, but I’m sure you’ve also seen molds made from lots of different materials available to buy online and at your local craft stores. Besides metal, the most widely used molds are made of plastic or silicone, and you’ll want to make use of these for different reasons.
Plastic candle molds are by far the cheapest variants available. If you’re completely new to making your own candles and don’t want to dump too much money into a hobby you might not commit to, plastic is definitely a good place to start.
Plastic molds are also good for getting more interesting shapes. Pyramids, orbs and all different weird and wonderful shapes can be made with plastic molds. Although you could source some of these in metal, you will not find the same breadth of variety as you will with plastic molds.
However, plastic molds are not the best if you’re looking for a top quality product. Plastic molds are far more likely to leave a mottled or scuffed appearance on the surface of the candle. It happens to me all the time, so don’t worry. Also, they will scratch on the inside much more readily than metal, meaning you could be left with impressions on the surface of the candle.
Lastly, I have read many times than plastic molds are not suitable for scented candles, as the fragrance oils can ruin the inside of your mold. Although I have (and often still do) used fragrance oils in plastic candle molds before and they’ve been fine, but after a while they do start to lose the polish on the inside surface of the mold. But like I said, plastic molds are cheaper and so easier to replace.
Silicone candle molds are super popular right now for candle making! Not only are they useful for this, but they are great soap or cake molds as well, making them wonderfully versatile. Because of the flexible nature of a silicone mold, its chief use is to get creative and innovative candle shapes that just wouldn’t work with a ridged mold. Although you can get some interesting shapes with plastic, silicone pushes the boundaries even further.
Think of it like this, once the wax has hardened within the mold, you simply stretch the silicone so that candle pops right out, making this otherwise difficult and annoying process a dream. But it also means you can have some pretty crazy shapes, as you don’t have the issue of trying to get it out of a very stiff, inflexible mold.
However there is a but. I would suggest getting yourself well acquainted with plastic and metal molds before moving on to silicone, as I would consider silicone to be advanced practice. We’ve considered doing a whole post about how to use silicone molds, but we’ll come back to this another time.
Containers and Jar
If you’d rather make use of jars and containers, you can pour them in the same way as I’ve discussed here in my soy candle craft. Although we’ve used soy wax rather than paraffin, the method is basically the same.
Why do homemade candles sink in the middle?
Why do homemade candles sink in the middle?
So I’ve already mentioned this above in the step by step how to make a basic pillar candle, but I thought it necessary to mention it again as it’s one of the most annoying aspect of candlemaking! You’ve poured your candle. It has a lovely, even base or top. But then a couple of hours later it’s sunk dramatically and looks horrible. How very rude!
The problem of ‘why do homemade candles sink in the middle’ has a relatively simple answer and an even simpler fix. Candle wax sinks when it sets because as the wax cools, it slowly contracts and can leave what I refer to as ‘sink holes’ in the middle of your candles, but can also present as sunken dips around the wick.
In order to prevent this from happening, or more precisely ‘fix’ a sunken candle (because let’s face it, it’s going to sink) use a bamboo stick or a thick skewer to poke vertical holes in the candle. You’ll want to do this about a couple of hours after you’ve poured your wax, just as the candle is beginning to properly set but long before it’s fully cooled. You’ll want to go quite deep, leaving roughly an inch on the bottom. Be careful to keep your hole vertical and not to disturb the position of the wick.
Then you’ll want to pour your excess wax on top, making sure the holes are filled with the liquid wax. Do this even if you don’t see any sinking on top, as sink holes can be hiding in the middle of your wax and this method should completely fill them.
Nothing says “home” more than the delightful flickering of a candle flame. Candles are a wonderful way to add style and warmth to your home. Learn everything about raw materials and candles production processes with the following information-
In order to produce candles, manufacturers require the following elements: stearin, wax, wicks, dyes, production machines, packaging.
The aim of a candle is to produce a flame. If we look closer at the flame, from a scientific point of view, here is what we observe:
When a candle is lit up, the heat from the flame melts the raw materials down (stearin and paraffin wax). The melted matter rises by capillarity to the top of the wick, and then evaporates once it reaches the extremity
Bees produce between eleven and nineteen million kilos of wax every year.
However, only 5.5 million kilograms reach the market, the rest of it remaining in the nature or being used by beekeepers for artificial honey making.
Worker bees produce wax through a small gland located under their abdomen. Over one million bees are required to produce one kilo of wax.
The composition of beeswax varies depending on the seasons, the altitude at which the bees live and the sorts of flowers and plants in which they gather: clover, orange blossoms, and sunflower or fruit trees in flower.
China, Brazil, Ethiopia, Mexico, Australia and Dominican Republic are the biggest exporters of gross beeswax.
The basis for the industrial production and good combustion of candles has been established thanks to a discovery by the French chemist Chevreul. He expounded in 1826 that oils and grease were chemical compositions of a liquid (glycerine) and a mixture of a more or less solid matter (saturated fat). He managed to decompose a mixture of saturated fat into a liquid fraction (oleine) and a hard and solid fraction (stearin). Stearin turns out to be, among others due to its colour, structure and short fusion curb, an excellent matter to be poured in metal moulds for candles. This progress was again reinforced by the introduction by Cambacérès of braided wicks. It was finally possible to produce on an industrial scale a candle that would burn clearly and regularly, that would not blacken, replacing the old soot candle.
For many years, the production of candles has been based on grease and beeswax. At the beginning of the 19th Century, the invention of the braided wick and the discovery of stearin completely changed the quality of the combustion of candles.
A few years later, paraffin wax was discovered. Fuchs extracted mineral oil out of paraffin and Buchner produced the first paraffin wax in 1819. In 1830, Von Reichenbach distilled paraffin out of tar of beech wood. He gave it also the name of paraffin, stemming of the latin “parum” and “affinis”, meaning “which has less affinity”. This naming is related to the poor capacity of this matter to react to chemicals agents.
The production of paraffin wax from coal started in Glasgow in 1845. In 1861, the industry produced 750 tons of paraffin wax, ten years later the amount had already reached 5000 tons.
In the United States, the production of paraffin wax was developing even more. There, it was discovered that paraffin wax could be extracted from petrol, as well as from brown coal.
In 1890, paraffin wax could be found all over the world. From that time onwards, the candle industry has the raw materials at its disposal: beeswax, stearin and paraffin wax. These raw materials can be mixed with each other: paraffin wax with stearin and paraffin wax with beeswax. Nowadays, the candle industry uses paraffin wax above all, followed by stearin. Beeswax is the least used for candle manufacturing. On the market, the rating of the paraffin wax qualities is generally based on their content in oleaginous oil:
non refined : approximately 5-15 %
semi-refined : approximately 0.5-5 %
entirely refined : approximately 0-0.5 %
Some types of paraffin waxes are more expensive then others, according to the degree of refining, the colour can alter from dark yellow to white, and the oil content from 0 to 15%.
Paraffin wax is delivered in slabs, beads or powder. It is also transported in liquid form in tank trucks.
350,000 tons of paraffin wax is produced in Europe each year. Approximately half is delivered to the candle industry. Some qualities are better suited than others, depending on the industries they will be used for. For example the leather or textile industry, the paper and cardboard treatment industry, plastic matters, explosives, cables and even for cheese coating and chewing-gum production.
The soul of the candle: the wick
The discovery of stearin by Chevreul and the elaboration of the process of separation of saturated fat by Miller and Motard in 1831 led to an alteration of the wicks used for soot candles. In 1820, the Frenchman Cambacérès produced for the first time, by braiding three cotton threads of the same thickness, a wick that inclined itself towards the exterior while the candle burnt. This way the wick could burn completely without the candle needing blowing. He created this way an essential condition for the industry of wicks for candles.
The braided cotton wick of Cambacérès still had a main disadvantage: after blowing the candle, the cotton remained so incandescent that the end of the wick would disappear, and the candle couldn’t be relit again. It was the occasion to apply for a patent for a method of treatment of wicks with chemicals. These chemical products helped to settle the combustion process.
The manufacturer also chooses the shape of the wick according to the production method and the raw materials. For most candles in stearin or paraffin wax, a flat braided wick is used, a round one for candles in pure beeswax, as well as for candles consisting of beeswax and stearin or paraffin wax.
The round wick (which is more of a V shape than a round shape) is consistent of cotton threads and a soul that makes it firm. In order for the wick to lean over the exterior of the flame, a few threads are interlaced asymmetrically to create a small artificial tension in the wick.
For every type of wick, the number of threads, the thickness and cotton quality must be chosen.
For the choice of the wick, it is very important to know what raw material is used. Indeed, the viscosity of the stearin being strong, more cotton threads are needed to obtain a sufficient absorption capacity. Stearin does not give the same heat quantity as paraffin wax. As a result, stearin candles require thicker wicks. Paraffin wax is soaked more easily, which allows a thinner wick. For beeswax, a thicker wick is compulsory. Besides, it is in the beeswax candles that we see the biggest wicks.
Finally, the quality of the wick must be chosen according to the shape of the candle and the production method. The stretching of the candle creates a bigger pulling effort on the wick. Consequently, a flat wick can be pulled more.
Combustion trials must allow finding the most suitable wick. If the candle leaks, it is possible that the wick is too thin. If the candle produces soot, it can be because the wick is too thick. If the candle is re-dipped to be covered in a harder and possibly coloured layer, in a wax of a higher fusion point, it is possible to choose a thinner wick to avoid soot, while the re-dipping will avoid dripping.
Candles, a symphony of colours
Apart from traditional white candles, coloured candles are making their place on the market. Thanks to special pigment colours, coloured candles can become as fixed to the light as an oriental carpet.
For candles re-dipped in colour, we use dyes with pigments. For entirely tinted candles, we use soluble to greasy colours.
The colours must fit certain requirements. They must not have a negative effect on the quality of the burning. They must not “migrate” either, some part of the candles’ surface seem more coloured than others.
Most of the time, the dyes are applied on the exterior of the candle by the method of dripping.
The mixture of the dyes with the raw materials also requires a lot of experience from the candle manufacturer, in order to guarantee a constant colour. The colour industry develops and conceives, in accordance with the candle producers, a variety of standard colours. Along with this, with their own colourists and in their own laboratories, they can meet the requirements of their clients and create new colours which are in fashion, and that add up to the existing pallet.
Methods of production of candles and tapers
The discovery of stearin, paraffin wax and braided wicks in the last century were the beginning of the new era of industrialisation. These last thirty years have been even more prolific in this area than all the previous centuries.
When we look at the ancient engravings of the Middle-Ages, we can notice that almost all the modern methods were already there at a prototype stage.
From dipping to stretching candles continuously
It was difficult to make nice round candles with a smooth surface with soot. It was done by dipping, one of the oldest methods for candle making. The wick was plunged repeatedly in liquid wax, in order to obtain the wished diameter. Then a method to produce several candles at a time was invented. A certain amount of wicks of the same length were suspended on a wooden beam, then were plunged into a container filled with wax, which itself had most of the time been melted on a fire in the corner of the workshop. At each dip, the coupled candles thickened about one millimetre.
Nowadays the dipping method is still used, but it has been adapted to entirely automated installations, operated electronically, in which many wicks are plunged together in a mixture of paraffin, and then removed. The raw material solidifies, and the task can be repeated until the candle reaches the required thickness.
Another dripping method which is still used in the industry for church candles, and especially for the biggest and largest altar candles, is the “spoon pouring” method. Liquid wax is poured along the suspended wicks with a spoon, until the taper candle reaches the wished size.
The idea of thickening a wick in order for it to become a candle by alternatively plunging it in warm liquid wax and removing it for it to harden brings us to the first stretching lines.
By turning a wooden drum by means of a crank, the wick passed at the bottom of its race in liquefied wax that was in a copper basin placed between the two drums, and during the top the race, the wax would cool down. The thickness of the candle could be adjusted thanks to a copper disk that was provided with small holes of lessening diameters. Once the required diameter obtained, the section of the candle was placed on a long table and cut to the wished lengths.