Introduction: How to Make Candles!

Picture of How to Make Candles!

My mom loves candles. This year for Hanukka, instead of spending 18 bucks for a candle or two from yankee, I've decided to make her some candles! I ended up spending $12 at Joanne's for enough wax/wicks for ~16 candles. I, however, only made two so that she can decide on her own scent/color combination when I make more.

I had a lot of fun making these, and I know she's going to love them.

UPDATE: I gave them to her tonight (12/6/07) and she really did love them, they're burning now.

Step 1: Caution

This project does require a few safety/mess preventions.

*Wax is very hard to clean up from counters. In order to help with cleanup, use as few tools as possible, and cover your work space in newspaper. I wish I had done that.

*Wax is flammable, for this reason, it's very important that you don't use any setting higher than medium on your stove, and use a thermometer if possible.

Wax's flash point is 300 degrees F, don't let it's temperature exceed 250 degrees.

Step 2: What You'll Need

Picture of What You'll Need
  • Wax - I got mine from Joanne's, a 4 pound block for something like $14
  • Wicks - Got it from Joanne's, too, for $2
  • Crayons (If you want your candle colored)
  • Scent (I used vanilla extract)
  • Olive oil (Optional)

(Joanne's sends out 40% off any item coupons every sunday in our newspaper, check for coupon's from your craft store, they're helpful =] )

*Double boiler (Or two nesting pots)
*Molds (I used a soda can, and a dixie cup)
*Mixing Spoon

Step 3: Preparation

Picture of Preparation

Turn on your double boiler, and if you have a large block of wax like me, rest the wax over the boiler. This way, it will soften, and be easier to cut.

Lay out newspaper over your work space.

Take the wax off, and cut a chunk off, use the double boiler to melt that chunk of wax. I used about half a pound, and there was some wax left over after making my two candles.

As the wax melts, prepare your molds. Both of my molds were disposable and tear able. If you are using something like glass as a mold, rub the inside with oil on a paper towel, this will make it easier to remove the candle.

Step 4: Additives

Picture of Additives

I made my candles yellow, and vanilla scented. For my half pound of wax, I put in half a yellow crayon, and a splash or two of vanilla.

This site can help you match colors with scents.

This site can help you make the scents you want.

Step 5: Wicks

Picture of Wicks

Cut off a piece of wick (cotton string) that's about an inch longer than your candle will be. Dip this into the wax, and then take it out. Use two paper towels, tongs, or anything else to pull the string taught while it dries for the most your wick will be straight. You can put the wicks in the fridge to harden while you finish the candles, if you'd like.

Step 6: Pour the Wax

Picture of Pour the Wax

Use the double boiler to pour wax into each mold, then stick the candles into your fridge. This will speed up the cooling process. Once they are starting to firm up, and the top of the candle looks firm, use a tooth pick to poke into the center of the candle. You'll notice that the inside of the candle is still melted. Position the wick straight up, and so that it touches the bottom. Melt a small piece of wax over the wick's hole to seal it. Leave the candle in the fridge until fully hardened. When they are hardened again, either peel off the mold, or slip out the candle (depending on your mold)

Step 7: Clean Up

Picture of Clean Up

Wax spills are inevitable. One of the best ways to clean them up is to lay a brown bag over the spill, and use an iron set on high to melt the wax onto the paper bag...voila!

Your tools are going to be a huge pain to clean up. My only suggestions are use few, use hot water, and use a rough brush to scrub it off.

Good luck, and Happy Hanukkah (/Christmas) !


Moe_Tangna (author)2011-12-12

Hello!, I want to make a very large candle (like 3-4 feet tall) I have around 4 diffrent colors of melted candles that are each the same brand. how can i make the mold for the canlde and how can i layer it so that when the next color is burning a diffrent scent comes out? ( i have enough candles to make a sizeable candle)


TracyQ2 (author)Moe_Tangna2016-01-12

I run an Art Shop in California and I go through alot of Vinyl for windows and such. At any rate I saw this post and figured the large cardboard tubes that I get the vinyl roles in would be perfect for making a large freestanding candle. Please contact me through my site if you would like to reply.

Speedster44 (author)Moe_Tangna2013-10-22

I'd suggest like a shipping tube or something, I think.

curvy77 (author)Moe_Tangna2012-01-01

to change scent of wax as well as layer it do not melt all wax at once. melt whatever max you want on bottom first and so forth. add the bottom wax first and let cool/harden. then add next layer and so forth. as for the scent i am not sure this will work (dont use this till ur sure so experiment and get back to me) but try grinding up flowers pine needles or whatever it is you want, and add ing this fine smelling powder to the melted wax and stir. again may not work so test it before useing this method on ur large candle.

curvy77 (author)Moe_Tangna2012-01-01

well if you take a styrofam cup wood or any material than can hold its shape. you can hollow out your own design. i have not yet tried making a candle however i have melted cans and carved my own mold.....hehe wood + melted aluminum= small fire.

loulib (author)2016-01-07

This is a lovely tutorial, but Please Please Please do NOT put containers full of hot wax in the fridge - it is a perfect way of raising the temperature in the fridge allowing bacteria to breed and potentially cause food poisoning.

couponchief (author)2015-12-26

Thank you, very clear and I'm going to try this out.

suzysmith24 (author)2015-05-07

gonna make this for mothers day

billbuck (author)2012-12-11

Hi Bobftx,

I would like to use you and your message as an example to many parts of the world of what a paranoid unintelligent american is. Not only will I explain it on this site but will use this comment on nearly 30 other sites where I give an explanation of the unintelligent, small knowledge based anglo saxon. I too am an anglo saxon American, but for some reason I am able to see our enormous shortcomings. Don't worry bob you're not alone, there are many people like you that I use as examples.
If you follow the instructions there is no reason why you would have hot water, wax and pots flying all over the place and (scare tactic) all over your face, down your throat and through your bones. The people who would not follow the instructions (anglo saxon male americans) yes would probably have a mess on their hands, but even they are smart enough to jump out of the way if two pots explode. However these people do not have the ability (such as yourself) to see the benefits of going through this process to make candles. It is something that you can do for fun with others to create a useful tool. So bob please don't go buy candles, but spend the next 36 hours sitting down in a chair with a candle lit and think about why this is a good thing. If you still cant figure it out, there are plenty of good psychologists out there who became psychologists to help people like you.

Actually, Bobftx has a perfectly valid point.

Unlike water, paraffin wax will not boil. It has a flashpoint (listed on the package) at which it will simply burst into flames which can cause serious injury. Paraffin should ALWAYS be melted in a double boiler and a thermometer should ALWAYS be used. It is reckless and irresponsible for the author of this article to make it look or sound as if anything less is acceptable.

Your post is insulting and ignorant and you are the one in need of therapy.

oshendrickson (author)2014-02-06

I would not microwave wax aethodst ALL! It changes to composition and no longer burns or acts right. doubble boiling or a candle maker are the safest m

linz92 (author)2013-12-01

Hello, I've made many homemade candles and I just stuck wax on low heat on the stove and it melted fine without a double boiler. Also I stuck it in the microwave many times. Good tutorial though. Thanks for sharing :) Are you using oure vanilla extract or artificial? Ive used vanilla oil for scent but I've never used vanilla extract because of all the alcohol in it.

_miss_lady10 (author)2013-04-20

Hey! Yankee is just a brand of candle! They sell them at department stores and some malls have their own boutiques set up. They are very nice candles but they can start to get very expensive after a while!

bobkelleher (author)2013-04-11

You mentioned your mom loves candles and that this year for Hanukka, instead of spending 18 bucks for a candle or two from yankee, you decided to make some homemade candles for your mom! Great idea! I’d like to know who is “yankee?” Is "yankee" a good or bad thing? Should I be in fear of "yankee?" Please help me understand. It's extremely important to me. Should I be in afraid because I AM FEARLESS. Enter at your own risk.

Jomskylark (author)2012-12-25

Just used this fantastic guide to make my grandmother a candle for Christmas. This was the "Plan B" of gifts but I'm really glad I did it because it looks wonderful. Thank you. :)

Some thoughts:
- Block of wax was $20 for me. I didn't want to shell out that kind of money in case this was one-time thing, so I bought several wax cubes for $6. I used only ten cubes when making my candle; they melted fine.
- I also didn't have a double boiler, so I used a frying pan. Not sure of the advantages/disadvantages here but it seemed to work ok.
- I used a small container for my candle. It looks much prettier I think.
- You. are. not. kidding. about the tough clean-up. I probably spent more time cleaning wax off my pan than I did making the darn candle. One little tidbit of advice I can offer is that the wax seemed to build-up in some areas, and instead of rubbing harshly I tried to scrape it off from underneath. That seemed to be more efficient.

Thanks for posting this! :)

lizardpow (author)2012-06-16

Hi! I`m making a gift for my mom and i am going to make the candles in jam jars. Can I just keep the candles in the jars or do i have to take them out? and also, why do you need 2 pots???

Keeping it in the mason jar is a great idea, go for it. The two pots are to make a double boiler. If you put the wax right on the stove, it will burn. Putting it in a pot, in boiling water distributes the heat more evenly and gradually. The water acts as a buffer to the heat so the wax just melts.

ngadea (author)2012-03-15

To straighten you can also just use your fingers.

Lay the wick on something flat, like a flat surface. It dries very quickly and if left undisturbed will not curve on its own.

bobftx (author)2010-12-12

This photo is a diagram for starting a house fire. What happened to the double boiler? Also, if you use nesting pots, make absolutely sure that they do not fit tightly together. If steam builds up between them you have hot wax, boiling water, and a hot pot flying all over the kitchen--and all over you.

Maybe just buy the candles.

ngadea (author)bobftx2012-03-15

How is this "constructive" bob? Climb out of your bunker already.

izzyk84 (author)bobftx2011-02-20

1. (S)he already made them.
2. (S)he decided to make the candles so that (s)he wouldn't have to buy them for a fortune. Nice job reading.

alwayssummer (author)2012-02-16

Do you think a straw would work for a center hole for the wick? if you oil it before inserting and if it actually comes out you would wind up with a nice 1/4" hole in your candle.

praise_song (author)2012-02-08

Here's what I do: I save up all those little bitty scraps of the ends of candles ... all colors, scents, sizes, etc. Break them in to smaller pieces, if necessary. Store 'em in a clean, 24-oz. pickle jar, with a lid on it. When you have quite a few bits and ends, put the entire jar into a 2-qt. pot, that has about 2"of water in it. You can place a boil-control mechanism under the jar, if you'd like... it helps to keep the "bouncing" down to a minimum, but it'snot necessary. Bring the water to a boil, and turn to med. low, just so the water keeps simmering around the glass jar. It will melt the wax, but will not ruin your cookware. When it's all melted, add your color and any scent you are using to the melted wax.
Using a potholder or two, pour the wax into your clean votives or whatever you're using as a container. Use whatever method you prefer for setting the wick. I use the pre-tabbed/pre-crimped ones, for ease. I buy them for $5.95/100pcs, and they last me a LONG, LONG time.
I am not a true "candle maker", per se, but I hate wasting all those little ends of candles ... once melted down, I can usually get 3 or 4 more votives ... and that's about $12+ , if you buy the Glade ones.
I use this jar-melt method, and I have NEVER had a spill, or any mess whatsoever. Whatever sticks inside the jar ... well, it'll be melted down into the next batch, the next time I make candles!
Oh! ... I also bought a 73¢ plastic, 3ml pipette (a dropper) at Sally Beauty Supply, and use it for my scents. I keep that JUST for measuring the scented oils, so no muss/no fuss w/ the scented oils, either.

davin_x (author)2011-11-28

I'd recommend using a small paper cup (they come in shot glass size up to larger cup sizes!) instead of a coke can. Reason being is that the paper cups are cheaper and have a light wax coating inside them as it is. Once the candle wax has solidified, you can just cut the paper cup off and you end up with cool candles.

I also poke a small hole through the bottom of the paper cups, and thread the wick through that (seal it with a bit of wax from another candle).

Example here:

nutsandbolts_64 (author)2011-11-28

I recall how the industry made those stick-like candles. Basically, first you dip the string in there, take it out, let the wax on it solidify, then dip it again, take it out, solidify etc. It'll build layers of wax upon one another until you get your desired thickness. Any chance to do that instead?

onlineiftikhar (author)2011-05-25

Use candle colorant instead of crayons better results and costs less. No sediment on the bottom of the pot.

sbrown1 (author)2011-05-05

wow !!

Amanda Hutchens (author)2011-04-05

hii everyone how is this topic goin?

salt-n-burn (author)2010-06-30

Maybe something that would cut down a few steps would be to fashion some sort of base for the wick (A square or circle of thin cardboard, or thick paper, maybe.) You could poke a hole in it, thread the wick through, and tape a small piece of the wick to the underside. Then drop it in your container, and pour the wax over the whole thing. As far as getting the wick to stand straight... Any number of things could be fashioned to hold it centered. (Although I suppose it probably would be best to dip the wick first. I don't know about everyone else, but I have about a billion candle jars/holders lying around. Once the candle is spent, I always scrape out the excess wax and hold onto the container like I'll reuse it some day... Which thanks to this article, I just might! :) No one would ever know it was homemade. (Well, until you brag about it, of course!)

stephNY (author)salt-n-burn2011-04-01

Tea lights pretty much always have a small base like the one you suggest, a small circle of aluminum with a molded hole to hold the wick upright in the center of the candle. They don't get damaged at all from burning the candles, and are completely reusable. You can usually find tea lights at ten for a dollar at the dollar store, or at a hundred for five dollars at Target. (WHAT A DEAL!)

rudegirl (author)2011-03-21

i accidentally found out that your metal pots can be clean by soaking them in "white spirit" i left my lacquer brushes in the pot i used to melt the wax for candles and added white spirit so i could wash the brushes clean today and though the brushes still were a pain to clean the wax that was stuck on the pot walls had disolved into a watery substance :D wierd since both substances are derive from paraffine but ti WORKS!

HayIamRhian (author)2011-02-17

You said that if you were using a glass as a mould then you should grease it to get it out.
Couldn't you just leave it in there so the glass could be like a candle holder?

jdevilliersbuz (author)2011-01-08

Hi Great site check this one aswell for more candle making stuff... this so so much fun

bowman (author)2010-12-12

I nearly forgot.................Pick up a bag of styrene, it's granulated. It will harden the wax and give you a slower burn. Your candles will last much longer and burn more even.

Bad Maxx (author)bowman2010-12-12

Could you explain this a bit better? Styrene is vinyl benzene, I cannot for the life of me imagine that burning or melting, however you want to word it, in a candle is healthy in any stretch of the imagination. I know back in the day we had strict warnings about the fumes from heating granulated styrene to form bathtubs, It causing a long list of health problems and is considered a carcinogen. Maybe you had something else in mind?

bowman (author)Bad Maxx2010-12-15

Thanks, the post has been corrected.

Bad Maxx (author)bowman2010-12-16

No problem! Thank you for clearing that up!

bowman (author)2010-12-15

It appears I made a major mistake here................I meant to say to use Stearine for a slower burn, longer candle life, etc. Thanks to BadMaxx for catching me on this.
I get it at Michael's. Yaley Enterprises is the manufacturer, marketer, etc.

ucanBanerd (author)2010-12-04

They make a pin for candle making, most times you pour wax twice, because the center where the wick is, sinks as it cools and you get a bit of a hole. The pins go in the bottom of the mold and makes it so after the candle hardens there is a prefectly straight hole through the candle, thread your wick through the hole, then when you repour (make your wax 20 degrees hotter so you don't get a line) it fills the gaps and your wix and your hole from cooling are fixed. I'm going to try to improvise one for pillar candles using a bamboo skewer.

Bad Maxx (author)ucanBanerd2010-12-12

THANK YOU! I've been curious why all of my candles sink in the middle making a big ugly divot! Also makes the candles burn wrong! Now I'm re-inspired to make candles again!

ucanBanerd (author)Bad Maxx2010-12-13

There are some waxes that don'e require a re-pour, but most do, and the second time, your wax needs to be ten to twenty degrees hotter than on the firts melt, so you don't get a line. I've already screwed this up once, lol, but if it's just for home, no one cares. I make the batch a few ounces bigger than i need, then re-melt whats left in the pot for the re-pour after your wax cools the first time. I also noticed that you will get a much worse hole if you try and speed things up by putting them in the frige!

Bad Maxx (author)ucanBanerd2010-12-13

I agree with the fridge making it worse! My first candles had a rather shallow sink-hole to them, then thinking maybe cooling them faster would prevent this, I put my next batch in the fridge. Way worse! Can't wait to try your method.

pbhound (author)2010-12-12

i agree NEVER do this! if the wax is too big for the pot; use a hammer to break it into smaller pieces (just wear eye protection)!

Weissensteinburg (author)pbhound2010-12-12

If you read the entire step, you'll see that I put the wax on top to soften it. I then cut it into smaller pieces and used a double boiler to melt it.

There's nothing dangerous about a large block of wax over boiling water. It would take hours, if ever, for the wax to soften to the point of breaking and falling in.

j.w.mills (author)pbhound2010-12-12

Yes to the hammer but I use a chisels or a screwdriver I don't mind beating on the end of, to break the wax into chunks that fit. Just whacking with a hammer makes a mess. Leave the wax cold to chunk it.

Use candle colorant instead of crayons better results and costs less. No sediment on the bottom of the pot.

I have found that "most" oil based sents(sp!) work in candles. Try Frankincense or Muir... Or both OH so nice. On the oils that come out (evaporate) of the candles to fast I dip the candles in hot wax after unmolding and cooling for a day.

Use tapered molds and after cooling the candles usually just fall out.

j.w.mills (author)2010-12-12

Easy trick. If you have a gravel path or driveway take your tools there and poor boiling water over them the little bit of wax will help hold down dust this summer. It's the only good way to clean the strainer I use to get the bits of stuff out of recycled wax!

OR pop the tools in the large pot of the double boiler and boil a bit. Let cool skim hardened wax off the top and retrieve tools. You will only have a bit of wax at the water line of the pot to clean up. My bamboo scraper and a bit of hot soap and water takes care of that.

Beekeeper (author)2010-12-12

Wicks are braided - either flat braided or square braided. Before braided wick was invented, candles used to develop great long wicks sticking up into the flame which required regular trimming to avoid clouds of black smoke and soot. Braided wick curls over as it burns and thus sticks out into the hot part of the flame where it is able to burn itself away. Flat braided wicks are usually better for paraffin wax candles wheres square braided is better for beeswax (which burns slower). Additionally you have to get the right size/diameter of wick proportional to the diameter of your candle. If the wick is too small you will get that big puddle of wax in the middle of the candle which snuffs out the flame, or the surplus wax runs down the side of the candle. The wick has to be big enough to soak up the amount of wax that the heat from the flame melts. I could go on and on about candle making as I have been making all kinds of beeswax candles for nearly 50 years.

burnerjack01 (author)Beekeeper2010-12-12

It would seem to me, anyone who has 50 years of experience at candle making ( or anything else for that matter) has an enormous amount of expertise that would be a travesty if lost. Please consider writing a book or video or even instructible series. Maybe even an internet workshop!
I envy the skill you must possess

Beekeeper (author)burnerjack012010-12-12

I have given workshops to friends and bee clubs but as for writing a book, no thanks. I tried it once on another subject and found the whole process too difficult. There are numerous videos on youtube on making candles, though of course not all good - in my opinion.

bowman (author)2010-12-12

I enjoy your hobby too, although at this time of year they can be bought nearly as inexpensive as making them, but certainly not as much fun, and buying them limits your choices. As far as wick goes, string is too flimsy, not enough backbone. Wick is braided which means it will stand up (it's stiffer) and will burn longer. If you are using a container, such as empty cans, for shape, use a cooking spray inside the can before you pour the wax. Your candles should slide right out. Hope this helps, Good Luck!

About This Instructable




Bio: I enjoy photography, horticulture and carpentry, and am almost always doing something relating to of those things.
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