Lightly scented, clean burning, mood-enhancing, soy container candles. Everyone loves them, and they’re easy and fun to make. If you get started now you’ll have plenty of time to give these as gifts for the holidays, and of course save some for yourself!
What You’ll Need:
- Containers you’ll pour the wax into
- Wax (I use Soy-125 from Candle Wic)
- Fragrance (either a fragrance oil made for candles, or an essential oil)
- Thermometer (which I also use to stir so I don’t waste wax by leaving it on a spoon – see photo here)
- Pouring pot/double boiler set up (a pot with another pot that fits inside works great – see photo here)
- Hot glue gun or Glue Dots (to secure wicks to the bottom of the container)
- Scotch tape (used to keep the wicks straight while the candle cures)
There are basically three things you need to do to make candles once you have all of your ingredients collected.
- You have to melt the wax.
- You have to measure your scents.
- You have to wick your containers.
I buy soy wax chips in one or five pound sizes from Candle Wic. One pound may sound like a lot but if you’re lucky, and depending on the size of your containers, you’ll get one large candle out of it – a large Yankee candle-type jar. So I generally to use smaller containers. I collect old glass, tin, and ceramics year-round from thrift shops. I like to recycle and reuse and every chipped cup in a thrift shop is a potential container!
For every one pound of soy wax you use, you’ll need to add 6 tablespoons of fragrance scent. That is, a fragrance made especially for candle making. If you’re using pure essential oil, you only need 5 tablespoons. Those are the ratios I use, and what works best for me and gives me the best fragrance load for the wax I use; you may find you like more, or less. But if you use too much fragrance or essential oil your candle won’t set properly because it has too much liquid in it. I would recommend trying my ratio first before increasing. What sort of wax you use also affects how much to use! And essential oil, unfortunately, is not as effective as fragrance oil in a soy candle.
So let’s say you have a one lb bag of soy wax and you’re ready to make a couple of candles. Let’s do it!
- Put some water in the bottom pot of your double boiler set up, and pour as much of the wax as you can into the smaller pouring pot. Heat the water to simmer, and put the pouring pot into the bottom pot with the water in it. As the wax melts down you can keep adding more until all your wax is in the pouring pot. Your pouring pot may start out floating when you first put it into the bottom pot, but as the wax starts to melt the pouring pot will sink and stop floating. Stir the wax with your thermometer until it is all melted. Most of it melts very quickly until you’re left with a big blob of hard wax at the bottom, just keep stirring and it will eventually melt. When the wax is totally melted, remove the pouring pot from the water. Clip the thermometer to the top so the bottom is in the wax. Your wax is probably about 160 degrees or so….you can’t add the fragrance until the temp cools to approximately 120 degrees or the scent will burn off. So while the wax is cooling you can wick your containers and measure out your oil.
- Since you’re working with one pound of wax, you’ll need 6 tablespoons fragrance oil or 5 tablespoons essential oil. Carefully measure it out and set aside.
- Now you can wick your candles. Just check the wax temp occasionally while you do. You’re waiting for the wax to cool to 120 degrees. Use the glue dots, or heat up the glue gun and simply put a dab on the bottom of the silver tab of the wick, and center it as best you can into the bottom of the candle. Press it down for a second. Try your best to get that wick smack dab into the center of the candle so it burns evenly. The glue used in hot glue sticks is not flammable, so no worries there. The glue dots are from Candlewic.
- Now I take the scotch tape and make a very simple grid across the top of the container, using the tape to corral and straighten the wick, so it stays in the center without flopping or bending. Something like one of the bottom photos here, although he takes one piece of tape and puts a hole in the middle, whereas I prefer to take two strips and pen in the wick with them. Just make sure you don’t cover the whole top with tape….you need to be able to pour wax in there! Move the containers now to a place where they can sit for a few hours undisturbed. I put down a piece of newspaper on my dining room table and pour my candles there.
- Now that you’ve measured your scent and wicked your candles, the wax has likely cooled. Is it 120 degrees yet? When it is, add your fragrance and stir thoroughly with the thermometer. Let the wax cool to 115 degrees and pour wax into your containers. Slowly. Just pour right up to almost the very top of your container.
- Let your candles sit for at least 12 hours before moving them around. After a day you can remove the tape and trim the wicks. Let them sit for 2 days before burning them and 4 days before mailing, if you plan to ship as gifts.
That’s it! Soy wax is very easy and almost pleasant to clean up after, as opposed to paraffin.
Another thing to know and to tell people you give candles to is that soy wax has “a memory”. You can train a soy candle to burn the way you want it to. The first time you light it, let the wax pool form to cover the whole top of the candle. Don’t blow it out until it does. If you do, you’ve trained the candle to burn down in the shape of the pool. In other words, if the melted part is only two inches across and not across the whole width of the candle and you blow it out, every time you burn it after that the pool will get two inches wide and then start to burn down through the middle, leaving a lot of unmelted wax all along the edges of the candles. So don’t ever light a candle that you intend to burn for only 10-15 minutes!
Also, tend the wick! Keep it trimmed…..you’ll have a much cleaner burn (no smoke or black ceilings) if you keep the wick trimmed to about aquarter inch above the wax.
-Check the dollar store for glass containers that are inexpensive, and made specifically for burning candles.
-Save your tea tins!
-Once you’ve used the contents of small aluminum cans (such as tomato paste tins), peel off the label, wash, and you have cute little silver candle tins.
-Check your local thrift shops often for old ceramic bowls, pitchers, sugar bowls, tins, metal drinking cups, small canisters…so many possibilities.
- Keep them trimmed!
- -he thicker the wick, the wider the container can be. Any votive will work with any wick size, but once you’ve used something wide, like a china cup, for example, your wick needs to be thicker to melt the wax all the way to the sides. So check your sizes when you go wick shopping!
- Don’t be afraid to mix fragrances for custom scents. Mix fragrance oils with other fragrance oils, and essential oils with other essential oils.
- My ratio is for a lightly scented candle. If you want heavier, go heavier! Experiment. Don’t go above 10 tablespoons to one pound of wax, though. The candle will not properly set up.
Editor’s Note: A huge “thank you” to Joanne of Shaving Kit Supplies for this amazing tutorial! No time to make your own candles? Buy some of Joanne’s beautiful hand-poured candles for yourself or to give as gifts!