Introduction: Candle Craft: How to Make Beautiful Candles
Candle Craft became my obsession when I saw some beautifully crafted candles and I yearned very much to learn the Art of Candle making. Lack of facilities made me ordering a learner's candle making kit online. The starter kit provided some basic materials and photocopied instructions on a bunch of papers (not much of a help). Gathering information from internet and also watching many videos on YouTube, I Improved upon myself in candle craft. I have documented my experiments in candle making and this Instructable is the result of that.
Hope this instructable will be helpful to everyone who are interested in learning Candle Making Craft as a hobby.
Step 1: Candle Making Starter Kit
- Three different kind of waxes, two of them marked as 'B' and 'M' in small quantities. No mention of what they meant.
- Three packets of white powders / crystals. The instructions mentioned that the one marked as "W" is wax whitener, "S" as wax shiner and the last one as wax hardener.
- Two silicone molds for making flower shaped candles.
- Two packets of glitters, one golden and another silver colored.
- Ten packets of different color powders.
- One bundle of wick.
- A can of silicone spray, to be used as mold release with silicone molds
- A packet of aluminium containers for tea-light candles.
- Few pages of photocopied instructions on candle making with the starter kit.
Since I needed some equipment to start candle making, I bought a small milk cooker to act as a double boiler along with a ladle for melting and pouring wax. I have also bargained a seven-pack spice holder from the kitchen, which will act as double boiler for mixing different colors with wax in small quantities. With these equipment and the material received with the starter kit, I ventured into the candle making process.
Experimented with tea-lights in aluminium containers, made some flower shaped candles with the silicone molds, used spice container to make few pillar candles and even went further with making candles using molds made out of card board containers.
To sum up all about the candle making kit with reference to the included instructions,
- The wax received in bulk with the kit is Semi Refined Paraffin wax.
- The wax marked as "B" is Microcrystalline wax.
- The wax marked as "M" is Fully Refined Paraffin wax.
- The wax whitener (W) will reduce the yellowness of the wax and make it more clear. It can be used for making white colored candles and added to the molten wax directly at the rate of 1 to 2 grams per 2 to 5 kilos of wax.
- The wax shiner (S) is a white pigment which will add whiteness and shining to the candle. It is to be used as a paste mixed with coconut oil and added to the molten wax at the rate of 1 to 2 grams per 2 to 5 kilos of wax.
- The white crystals mentioned as wax hardener are plastic granules with higher melting point. These granules are to be melted separately and added to the melted wax at the rate of 5 grams per kilo of wax. This will increase the hardness of the wax and its melting point.
- The color powders are to be used as a paste mixed with coconut oil.
As my experiment with the starter kit is over, let us go deeper and discuss about the equipment required, different type of waxes, wick, colors, molds and mold releases. In addition, we will also explore how to make different type of candles and finally will try out some fun projects in candle making.
And lastly, I have also added a Bonus at the end of this Instructable. Check it out...
Step 2: Basic Equipment
- A Double boiler: You can use old kitchen utensils also to make a Double Boiler. The outer vessel holds water and the inner vessel is used for meting the wax. The basic idea is the wax in the inner container is melted by means of heat transferred by boiling water in the outer container, which will never cross 100 Deg. C.
- A Ladle: for mixing and transferring melted wax. You may find it very handy when working with large quantity of wax to be melted and mixed with different colors.
- Pouring Cans: For mixing colors and pouring wax in to the molds. You can also use them for melting wax by placing them in water bath directly. You may need more pouring cans when working with different colors.
- Hand Gloves: Molten wax is hot. So are the double boiler and the pouring cans. Use proper heat resistant hand gloves for your own safety when handling hot wax.
- A Knife: Waxes come in the form of slabs and crystals. You need a knife to cut required quantity of wax from the slabs.
- A Thermometer to measure the wax temperature
- A small weighing scale.
- Pair of scissors to trim the wick.
Step 3: All About Wax
Paraffin wax is a byproduct from oil refining industries. The highest grade of refinement produces the fully-refined paraffin wax and contains very little oil and has a higher melting point. It comes in the form of slabs or as crystals.
Semi-refined paraffin wax has more oil and sticky to the touch. It has a low melting point so candles made with semi-refined paraffin wax burns away quickly. produces more soot. It won't burn properly and most of the wax in a free standing candle will melt and flow down the candle. You can add semi-refined wax with fully refined paraffin wax at varying percentages based on the type of candle you are making,
Microcrystalline wax is also a byproduct of petroleum refining process and is darker in color. They are excellent materials to use when modifying the crystalline properties of paraffin wax. This is useful when some desired changes such as flexibility, higher melt point, and increased opacity are required in the candle.
Gel wax is a mix of oil and a polymer. It is transparent and behaves like gel, so you need a container to hold the wax. You can add perfume oil and liquid dye to the melted wax before pouring in the container. You can also add colored sand, sea shells with water and beads at the bottom of the container to make the gel candle more attractive.
Beeswax is a natural product obtained from honeybees. The one in the picture is raw, collected from a honey-comb and needs to be melted and filtered before being used. it naturally has a sweet fragrance, so adding a little bit of Beeswax will emit an aroma while burning. Cleaned beeswax is available in blocks or in the form of little pellets which can be melted or in pre-rolled sheets, which does not require any melting at all and can be rolled in to candles
Other types of wax:
There are other types of vegetable based waxes like Palm wax and Soy wax are available in the market. These waxes have been developed as an alternative to oil based paraffin wax
we will be using mostly fully refined and semi refined paraffin waxes for all types of candle making other than Gel candle. Hereafter, I have referred Fully Refined Paraffin wax as FRP wax and Semi Refined Paraffin wax as SRP wax in this Instructable.
Step 4: Wick
Pre-tabbed wicks of different sizes with a circular metal tab attached at the bottom are also available in the market. You can use these wicks in container or teal-light candles. Zinc cored wicks are normally used with gel wax in a container.
Problems due to incorrect size of wicks
- The flame is producing too much soot: Cause over-sized wick.
- The candle is melting fast and melted wax is flowing down the side: Cause over-sized wick.
- The candle is not burning properly: Cause under-sized wick
- The wick is drowning in melted wax: Cause under-sized wick
Look at the picture of the burning candle. The wick is slightly bending down and allowing bottom of the wick to burn. This is the correct size of wick for that thickness of candle.
Step 5: Candle Colors, Pigments and Dyes
Candle colors come in the form of either powder, Pigments, dye chips or in the form of liquid. There are two different types of color powders available in our place for candle making.
Florescent Colors: They can be added directly to the melted wax as required. Candles made with these colors have the tendency to transfer a little bit of color to the surface of the containers they are kept in, even on silicone molds used for casting.
Oil Soluble colors: These color powders are to be made in to a paste by mixing them with oil. I have used coconut oil for mixing and stored the paste in separate plastic containers.
The liquid dyes can be added directly to the wax in the double boiler. Gel candles are made only with liquid dyes.
If you are having separate pouring cans for each color, you can directly add the colors to the melting wax. Otherwise, melt the wax in a larger double boiler, take out in required quantities in pouring cans and mix the colors.
Take care while adding colors. If you want a batch of candles with the same color, prepare the colored wax also in one batch. Even a small change in the quantity of color added will give a different look. To be certain that the color combination is correct, weigh the wax as well as the color.
You can also experiment with different color combinations by mixing two or three colors.
Step 6: Fragrance and Essential Oils in Candle Making
If you want to make perfumed candles, you can use synthetic fragrance specially made for candles. Synthetic fragrance comes in many flavors like fruits, flowers and chocolate. You can add about 10 to 15 drops of fragrance per kilo of wax. This ratio may vary based on the brand. Too much of fragrance will not give a pleasant smell.
Essential oils like Eucalyptus oil, Lemon grass oil, Citriodora oil etc. can also be used for candle making. Candles mixed with Citronella oil acts as a good mosquito repellent.
You can use fragrance and Essential oils with stand-alone as well as container candles.
Step 7: Metal Molds
Metal molds are the most common molds used by candle making industries. They are rigid, available in different shapes and sizes in many geometric patterns and last for a life time if properly used. Metal molds are made of aluminium or sheet metal. There are molds for a single candle or for casting in multiples. Almost all of the metal molds are made of two or more parts which are joined together with metal clamps or nuts and bolts. They need to be lubricated to act as mold release before pouring wax. I am using coconut oil mixed with paint thinner, applied over the surface which will be in contact with wax.
The disadvantage with metal molds are that they can not be used for making designer candles with lots of curves and minute details. Though some molds are available for making floating candles, the finished product looks dump.
Step 8: Silicone Molds
When it comes to making designer candles, Silicone molds are the best. Due to their flexibility and resistance to heat to a certain extent, you can make very exclusively shaped candles using silicone molds. You can see some of the candles made with silicone molds here, which are never possible using metal molds. The silicone molds need to be sprayed with silicone mold release before casting candles.
The only disadvantage with silicone molds are they have a limited life cycle.
Step 9: Mold Release
Mold release is an agent which will prevent bonding of the finished candle to the surface of the mold, either made of metal, plastic or silicone rubber.
For metal and plastic molds mix one part of oil (I am using coconut oil) mixed with three parts of any paint thinner and store in a glass container. This mixture can be applied lightly with a sponge or a piece of cloth to the surface of the molds which will be in contact with wax.
Silicone Spray is used with molds made of silicone rubber.
Since we have finished with discussing most of the equipment and accessories used in candle making. let us move on to different types of candles we can make using these equipment and accessories.
Step 10: Pillar Candles
Pillar Candles are the most common types of candles you can make. Different shapes and size of molds made with aluminium, Silicone and sheet metal are available in the market. Following are the instructions for making Pillar Candles:
- Melt wax in a double Boiler. The wax can be about 70% fully-refined and 30% semi-refined Paraffin wax.
- Add desired color and mix well. If it is a white candle, instead of color, add wax whitener and shiner.
- If you prefer the candle to be scented also, add few drops of wax perfume and mix well.
- Clean the mold and lubricate. Oil mixed with thinner for metal molds or Silicone spray for Silicone molds.
- Select a wick of proper size, pass it through the wick hole and secure it at top.
- Close the wick hole at the bottom. I use a small amount of model making clay for this.
- Pour the melted wax in the mold leaving just about little space at the top.
- Allow it to cool until a layer is formed at top.
- Poke relief holes, heat the left-over wax and re-pour,
- After complete cooling, remove the candle out of the mold and trim the wick.
Your Pillar Candle is ready.
Step 11: Tea-Lights
The name tea-light was derived from their use as teapot warmers in olden times. A tea-light is a candle encased in a thin metal cup so that the candle can liquefy completely while burning. They are typically small, circular and wider than their height. The tea-light holders are normally made of aluminium but star-shaped holders made with aluminium foils are also available. Multiple tea-lights are often burned together because of their size and low level of light.
Melted wax can be poured directly into the cups or in to a specially made mold and then placed in cups. If you are directly pouring in to the cups, either you need to glue down the pre-tabbed wick prior to pouring or insert an one inch piece of primed wick when the wax in the cup is partially cooled. For tea-lights in star-shaped aluminium foils, you can place a primed wick in a slanting position before pouring wax. For candles cast with the special mold, pre-tabbed wicks can be inserted through the hole formed by the needle pointers provided in the mold. Use a wax mixing of 30% FRP wax and 70% SRP wax. Add colors and fragrance as desired.
Candle holders with multiple axis for holding many tea-lights together are available in the market to be used in special occasions.
Step 12: Stacked Pillar Candles
You can make stacked pillar candles using the tea-lights cast using the special mold. Since these pieces of tea-lights have pre-formed holes, you can thread the wick through these holes and stack any number of different colored pieces. After stacking the desired number of pieces, dip them quickly in melted wax, which will form a very thin outer layer to bond all the pieces together. Trim the wick leaving about half an inch above the candle.
Step 13: Floating Candles
Floating candles are the ones you can use at special occasions like wedding events or dinner party, floating in a clear bowl of water. You can use flower shaped candles made with Silicone molds, cake mold, Molds made with aluminium foil and anything you find suitable. It is preferable that the top is wider then the bottom for floating candles. You can add color, essential oils for aroma and even glitters to make them more attractive.
- Lubricate the mold with Silicone spray or oil mixed with paint thinner, which will act as Mold release.
- Melt the wax in a double boiler (FRP wax 50% and SRP wax 50%), add desired color, add a drop of essential oil and pour in the mold.
- Make relief holes if required (mostly not required), and re-pour.
- Remove the candles from the mold, when it is completely cooled down.
- The floating Candle can be burned as a stand alone candle or as floating in a bowl of water.
You can also add some flowers to the water if desired.
Step 14: Container Candles
A container candle is one where the melted wax is directly poured into the containers. Actually it is a candle and holder rolled into one. You can use any non-flammable material like glass with wider mouth as containers. Since these candles are burned inside the container, dripping of wax never occurs. You can use a wax mixture of low melting point (50% FRP wax and 50% SRP wax) which will also assist in dispersing the fragrance and essential oils added to them.
- Select a container with a wide mouth.
- Glue down and center the pre-tabbed wick. I have used a wooden ice cream scoop for this.
- Melt the wax in a double boiler. The wax mix can be 50% FRP wax and 50% SRP wax.
- Add color and fragrance or essential oil. Addition of Citronella oil will act as mosquito repellent.
- Pour the melted wax in the container and allow it to cool/
- You can make relief holes and repour but it is not necessary.
Step 15: Votive Candles
Votive candles, otherwise known as Prayer candles are the ones burnt mostly as votive offering in religious ceremonies. Votives are molded separately and burned in a container. Molds specially made for the votives or even a paper tea cup can be used for molding these candles. A typical votive will burn very long and will consume most of the wax that was used to make it. Votives are not free standing candles, therefore they are burned in containers intended for them. The wax and the method used for votives are same as for container candles, the only difference is that votives are molded separately and then placed in a container.
Step 16: Gel Candle
- Prepare the container: Fix the pre-tabbed wick at the bottom of the container with glue and center it. Here I have used a wooden ice cream scoop to center the wick.
- Take out the required quantity of gel wax in a clean pouring can.
- Melt the wax in a double boiler. Since the melting point of gel wax is higher than that of paraffin wax, it may take longer to melt.
- Add two to three drops of liquid dye to the melting wax. Two much of dye will spoil the transparency of the gel.
- Add two to three drops of fragrance. I have used synthetic green apple fragrance.
- When the wax is completely melted, pour into the prepared container.
- Let it cool completely. After cooling, remove the centering piece and trim the wick.
Your Gel candle is ready.
Step 17: Fun Projects: Candles Using Egg Container
- Soak about a foot of wick in melted wax and allow it to dry.
- Cut the wax-soaked wick in to one inch pieces. We will use these wicks for the hemisphere candles.
- Take a plastic egg container and apply mold release.
- Melt wax in a double boiler, add colors and pour in the hemispheres.
- When the candle surface is little firm, insert the wax-soaked wicks.
- After the candles are completely cooled down, remove from the mold.
The hemisphere shaped candles are ready.
Step 18: Fun Projects: Chunk Candles
How to make chunks
- Clean the stainless steel top and apply mold release (coconut oil mixed with thinner)
- Melt wax in a double boiler. Wax can be same ratio used for pillar candles.
- Pour the melted wax in the prepared mold to about one centimeter thick,
- Allow the wax to cool so that it is firm but can be cut to pieces.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the wax in to chunks.
- Remove the chunks from the mold and keep separately.
- Make chunks of different colors as required.
How to make chunk candles
- Prepare the mold by applying mold release and also fixing the wick.
- Fill the mold with layers of different colored chunks slightly lower than the rim of the mold.
- Melt the wax in a double boiler, ratio same as for pillar candles
- Pour the wax over the chunks so that it covers all the chunks in the mold.
- As the chunks have already been cooled, no over-pour will be required.
- Allow the candle to cool. You can also use a water bath for cooling.
- Remove from the mold. Now you got a colorful chunk candle.
Step 19: Fun Projects: Balloon Luminaries
Balloon Luminaries are one of the easiest and fun-filled project you can do at home.
- Melt Fully refined wax crystals in a double Boiler. You can add a little bit of hardener if available.
- Add the desired color to the melted wax. Here, I have added light green color.
- Fill a Balloon with water
- Dip the balloon in the melted wax. Make sure you are dipping just below the water level in the balloon
- Hold the balloon in wax for a few seconds, and then slowly lift it out.
- Dip the balloon a few more times to get the desired thickness of wax layers on the balloon, allowing some time between dips to let the wax cool.
- To make a flat bottom, place the warm balloon in a level area for a few seconds.
- Keep the wax layer under running water and pierce the balloon with a needle. Take care not to drop the Luminary.
Your Balloon Luminary is ready. Pour some water inside the luminary and burn a Floating Candle inside.
Step 20: Fun Projects: Hurricane Shell With Embedded Rose Petals
You can make Hurricane Shells with embedded flower petals, dried leaves & flowers, glass beads, wax chunks and even photographs . Here I have used Rose petals to embed in a small Hurricane Shell.
- Find suitable material to act as outer and inner molds. I have used an aluminium piece as an outer mold and a plastic cap as an inner mold. Make sure there is enough space between these two pieces to get a required thickness of the shell.
- Lubricate the molds so that the shell can be released easily from the molds after cooling down. I have used coconut oil mixed with paint thinner.
- Collect some rose petals, which you will be using as embeds.
- Melt the wax in a double boiler and pour between the molds.
- Now with the help of a tooth-pick or a tool of your preference, place the rose petals in-between the molds and stick them to the outer mold. remove any air bubbles with the tooth-pick.
- Re-pour wax if required and allow it to cool.
- Remove the inner mold and then hurricane shell from the outer mold. Now you got a beautiful embedded shell
You can burn a tea light inside the shell, as seen in the last picture, which gives a very beautiful effect.
Step 21: Other Fun Projects You Can Try
Here are some of the other fun projects you can try with:
- Marbled candle: Pour wax without any color or additives in a prepared mold. When the wax in the mold is still hot and formed a light shell, pour back the excess wax from the mold. Repour with slightly hotter colored wax of your choice inside the shell. This color will merge in to the uncolored wax in the mold and form a marbled look.
- Multi-colored Layered candle: Try pouring different colored waxes in layers in a mold, kept in a slanting position. Take care that the previous layer has moderately cooled down before pouring the next layer.
- Hand dipped candles: Simple hand-dipped candles can be made by repeated dipping of a length of wick in melted wax.
- Unusually Patterned candles: Pouring hot wax in very cold mold cools down very fast, traps some air, and forms some unusual patterns on the outer surface of the candle.
- Clay pot candles: You can use a small clay pot designed in the form of lamp to be used as container. These type of pots are available in our area to be burned with oil in Hindu temples. You can also decorate outer surface of the clay pot by hand-painting with poster colors.
The fun-project ideas are limitless. Use your imagination and try out different projects of your own...
Step 22: Bonus: How to Make a Silicone Mould
You may come across an object you like to replicate in wax (or in any suitable material), or you design an object and wanted a mold of it. What will you do..?
Here is an easy way to make a mold with Silicone rubber.
The Silicone mold making material comes in two parts: One is the Base (Larger one) and another is the Activator (Smaller container). The material I got came with five kilos of Base and 250 grams of Activator. That means one part of Activator is required for 20 parts of Base by weight. They both are in semi-liquid form. Now let us see how to make the mold.
- Select the object you want to replicate. Here I used a Screw driver set holder.
- Lightly lubricate the surface which will be in contact with the Silicone mix. I used Coconut oil mixed with paint thinner and applied over the surface using a piece of cloth.
- Now you need a holder to contain the silicone mix around the object. Here I used a thick plastic sheet (this type of sheets are used as cover sheet in spiral binding bunch of printed papers).
- Measure the circumference of the object allowing about 4 to 5 mm thickness for the silicone mold.
- Cut a piece of plastic sheet to the required size (height no problem, you can have an inch or two)
- Join the ends using duct tape and make it round. Lightly lubricate the inside where the silicone mix will be in contact.
- Place the round plastic sheet over the object and seal the gap at the bottom using glue.
- Now you need to calculate the approximate quantity of Silicone mix required for this. I have roughly calculated that about 150 grams of mix is required for casting.
- Weigh about 150 grams of base and 7.5 grams of Activator in a bowl and mix well. Proper mixing of Activator with the base will give you a excellent quality mold. Also make sure no air is trapped in the mix.
- Pour the mix over the top of the object so that it will flow over the sides to the bottom. This will prevent any air bubbles being trapped in the mix. Do not pour directly on the sides. Tap the sides lightly to remove any air bubbles.
- Keep this in a safe place for about 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, lightly touch the top of the silicone mix. If it is sticky allow more time for setting.
- After proper setting, remove the outer cover and take out the finished mold from the object. You can roll and remove the Silicone mold, no problem. It is very flexible.
- Now your Silicone mold is ready. Use it for wax casting after spraying the inside with Silicone spray.
The Silicone raw materials are very sticky. Use hand gloves while handling them. Cleaning the pot used for mixing is very easy. The Silicone rubber sticking to the pot will just peel of after setting.
Step 23: Bottom Line
A note on safety precautions on Candle making:
- Never melt the wax directly over flame. Use a double boiler.
- In case of fire never use water. Use a fire extinguisher.
- Water is an enemy to wax. Never allow water to get mixed with hot wax.
- Melted wax is hot. Use safety gloves when handling hot wax.
- Never leave the melting wax unattended. It may cause fire.
- Paraffin wax fumes are toxic. Do not inhale the fume.
- The hot water used in double boiler may contain little wax. Do not dispose it off in your wash basin. It may get chocked.
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