Updated: Nov 27, 2020
Candle Making is really special. Making anything yourself is satisfying, don't you think? But to be able to make your own candles is a lovely and useful skill to learn. Candles DIY style will not only chill you out with the scent of essential oils swirling around your kitchen, you'll also save yourself some money too if you have a penchant for luxury candles. The other thing is that you will always have something gorgeous to give away as presents to your friends.
I run candle making workshops here in the Cotswolds but at the mo it's a little difficult to run these courses so I would like to offer some hints and tips for you to have a go at candle making at home. Follow this how to make your own candles guide. I hope you enjoy!
Where to start with candle making
Before you start, have a think about whether you would like to make some candles that crackle using wooden wicks or will you choose cotton wicks? Do you have a preference about the wax you use? If you are vegan you might want to avoid beeswax candles but there are lots of types of wax to choose from. Are you interested in blending your own scents or would you like to buy some ready made blends? It’s so much fun using essential oils and creating your own bespoke blends and combinations. Do you want to add some embellishments to your candles, such as herbs and flowers? Why not sprinkle some dried flowers on the top that you have foraged from the garden. The great thing about candle making is that it is a really nice creative process and you can make your candles your way.
Things you need to make candles:-
Stickums or double sided tape
Essential oils or fragrance oils if you wish
An old saucepan
Metal pot or pyrex jug
You can use almost anything to make candles in. The main thing is that they are watertight. Glass works really well, as does tin. Stoneware works well too. Amber jars look good and are easy to work with. Glass jars with screw top metal lids are a great size to offer as a gift to friends. Try sweeping charity shops, the back of your cupboards, ebay or buy some new ones as you can keep refilling them time after time so it's sustainable and there is no waste or recycling needed. I even got a potter friend to make me some gorgeous white pottery pots, I refill these all the time.
Which wax for candle making?
So wax is pretty key as it is the fuel for your beautiful candles. The options are numerous and almost any type of oil can be turned into wax. You can choose a single type of wax or a blend of wax. The main choices of candle wax available are soy, beeswax, coconut, rapeseed and vegetable. There is also paraffin wax but I wouldn't recommend this one as it's a fossil fuel and not good for the environment or human or pet health. Soy is pretty easy to work with and burns for a very long time. Soy is the wax I use in my business and for the candle making workshops I run and the instructions below outline soy wax candle making. If you choose soy wax, look out for renewable soy wax as a more sustainable option. Beeswax has been used for many hundreds of years and smells lovely even before you add fragrance!
Where to buy wax for candle making
Rapeseed wax: Rapeseed wax is available from Kerawax
Rapeseed and Coconut wax blend: Available from Cargill
Essential Oils and Fragrance
You can choose to fragrance your candles with fragrance oils or pure essential oils. My preference is pure essential oils as I prefer to choose a natural product. Pure essential oils are not as strong as some of the fragrance oils so choose a product that suits you.
There are lots of reliable suppliers. For essential oils you could try Naissance, they are reasonably priced and of good quality. More info here.
For fragrance oils you could try Mystic Moments.
What wick for candle making?
When you make a candle, the bigger the container the more heat you will need to generate therefore the larger the wick you will need. If your container is 8cm or under you can use a single wick. If your container is bigger than 8cm in diameter try using two wicks, also known as double wicking. Telgoner offer a pack of different sized wicks and stickums which should get you started.
Essential Oils and Fragrance Oils
Stickums to stick your wick in place - available here - or try using double sided tape cut to size.
Instructions for making DIY soy candles
Step 1: Warm your container or containers to room temperature.
Step 2: Secure the wick in the centre of the container. Use a stickum if you have one or use a small piece of double sided tape cut to size. It's really important to centre the wick as accurately as you can. The more central your wick, the more evenly your candle will burn.
Step 3: Measure your wax. One way of doing this is to fill your container with water and measure the volume. Every litre of water equates 1.1 litre of soy wax. As a guide, take the number of millilitres and multiply that number by 0.8 to give you the amount of soy wax in grams you should need. After measuring the volume of your container using water, be sure to dry your container well before sticking in your wick as it may not adhere properly. Also wax and water are not best friends, so do be sure to dry well your tumbler before pouring in your candle wax later.
Step 4: Heat the wax in a bain marie (ie a pyrex jug or metal tin placed into a saucepan with a bit of water in the bottom). Bring the water to a simmer and heat the wax gently and slowly, stirring every so often. It’s a good idea to check with your wax supplier the optimum temperature to pour at for the specific wax you buy.
Step 5: When the wax has melted completely, remove the wax carefully from the heat source. Be careful, you are working with boiling water and hot wax. Use oven gloves to lift the wax out of the hot water.
Step 6: Add essential oils or fragrance oils if you prefer. The specific amount you need depends on the wax you choose. Check with your wax supplier for advice. You can experiment with different oils to see which scents you like best.
Step 7: Stir for about 1 minute in both directions to ensure the oils are infused into the wax.
Step 8: Pour the wax carefully into your container so it is about 2/3 full. Aim to pour at the recommended temperature suggested to you by your wax supplier. Use a peg to centre the wick and keep it in the correct position. Remember, the straighter and more central the wick is at this stage the more even your candle will burn.
Step 9: Allow your candle to set. Do not move it, just leave it alone. Once the candle has solidified, warm very gently the remaining wax and then top up your candle. If you notice little bubbles forming on the top of your candle, gently pop them with a cocktail stick.
Step 10: Allow your candles to cool and cure for 24 hours before using them. This will allow the crystals of wax to form giving a nice finish. Use some sharp scissors to cut the wick to around 0.5cm above the level of the wax.
I hope you really enjoy making your own candles.
Candle making + workshops
Please note, this how to make candles guide does include links to Affiliates which means that if you buy some materials, I would earn a small commission. Thank you for supporting Cotswold Pure Makers Guides.