We began this project by wanting to adapt and reuse household items to create something beautiful to make our homes cozy and welcoming.
In this instruction set, we will be up-cycling empty wine bottles and high quality new components to create beautiful, trendy glass-contained candles scented with essential oils, which can be used as center pieces or given as gifts in this upcoming holiday season!
Step 1: Collect Your Materials
Safety: eye protection; gloves; and a face masks for small particles.
Bottle Portion: a glass-bottle-scoring machine; mineral oil; sand paper; and attractive discarded wine bottles.
Wax Portion: new candle wax and/or partially melted candles; and store bought wide candle wicks; essential oils (optional); disposable stirring implements such as wooden spoons or tongue depressors; hot glue gun and glue; household stove top (gas preferred); small cooking pans (that may be rendered unsafe for food); and a food processor or grater.
Step 2: Be Safe!
Safety is a concern with this project. This project is not recommended for children. Teens should be under direct adult supervision at all times during the project.
Keep pets and children out of the area to avoid injury. Sanding glass may create airborne particles that can irritate the lungs; please sand in a ventilated area and wear a face mask of appropriate filtration capability.
Proceed at your own risk and with caution.
Step 3: Choose Your Bottle
We recommend using wine bottles or beer bottles (which result in a smaller diameter candle) instead of larger or more dense bottles like champagne or hard liquor bottles. Bottles should be round to make the process of cutting the bottle easier, and thick glass impedes cutting and potential problems resulting from frustration.
Additionally, glass that is especially thin will be more prone to shatter, so a medium-weight bottle is the safest route for beginners.
Whatever container you choose to repurpose for this project, remember to wear safety gloves and goggles when handling glass.
Step 4: Scoring the Bottle
There are many available ways to cut a bottle. You can either choose to make your own bottle scoring machine or choose a different scoring method (Alternative Scoring Methods). We recommend using a scoring machine for this step simply because it results in the cleanest break and seems to be the least dangerous.
Scoring machines do NOT cut the glass; they simply create a weak point that we will exploit to encourage the glass to break at the score line.
No matter what method of cutting the bottles you use, please remember to wear your gloves, goggles, and mask! Safety First!
We chose to use a tool purchased from Amazon that allowed us to make an even and consistent scoring line around the bottle (Bottle Scoring Tool). Using this tool is quite simple. There should be an adjustment knob on the belly of the cutter, which will allow you to adjust to the length you want your candle to be. Once adjusted, you’ll want to lay the wine bottle on top of the wheels and apply firm and consistent pressure while rolling the bottle away from you.
While turning the bottle you should hear a small scraping noise, this is the carbine wheel cutting into the glass, if you do not hear this you should apply more pressure. Try to get all the way around the bottle in one motion. In order for the bottle to break properly the score line must be deep, travel all the way around the bottle, and connect in a perfect loop. Do not go around the bottle more than once.
Step 5: Heat the Score Line
Once the bottle is scored, you’ll want to prepare an ice bath and then proceed to heat the score line. The ice bath should be made before heating because the bottle will need to be immediately submerged. The heating can be done with a torch or lighter (matches are not recommended). Try to heat the score line as evenly as possible and be sure to heat the entire score line before submerging.
Once you submerge the bottle, you should hear a crack. This is the score line breaking. Ideally, the bottle should snap in half where you’ve made the score, but it might take a couple of tries to get it right. It is completely acceptable to do several cycles of the hot/cold process. The point here is to create rapid and extreme temperature change, which should cause the glass to break at the weakened score line.
Work slowly and carefully as the glass can shatter or explode unexpectedly. Wear your safety gear!
Step 6: Sand the Edges
After the bottle has been broken, you’re going to want to sand down the sharp edges. One way to do this is to use a Dremel. When using the Dremel, if you hold it in the same place for long periods of time it may cause sparks.
Make sure to keep it moving. Do not overheat or stay in one area too long; you want the general area to remain warmed around where you are sanding. You’ll want to sand down the top until it is smooth and also round the edges. If your bottle did not break evenly and you have large bumps to sand down you may want to use a palm sander. It has more power and will get the job done quicker.
Remember to wear a fine particle mask or respirator, gloves, and eye protection while sanding. Glass dust and shards are no fun!
Step 7: Secure Your Wick
You will need to secure your wick to the base of your glass before adding the wax.
Choose a wick width proportional to the width of your candle. Smaller candles should have a thinner wick and wine bottles would have thicker wicks. Candles with a diameter of 4" or larger may require more than one wick in order to burn properly. Please research this issue before proceeding if your candle is not in the range of wine bottle widths.
Dry the glass thoroughly, inside and out. Cut a length of wick material that is long enough to exceed the height of your container by at least 2 inches.
Using a hot glue gun, adhere your wick to the center middle of the bottom of the glass. Ensure the wick remains upright by tying the free end around a pencil or other implement that is long enough to keep the wick standing and out of the glass.
Remember to use caution with the hot glue gun; especially if it is not practical to wear gloves while using the hot glue gun.
Step 8: Prepare Your Wax
To make melting easier and more consistent, you can use a food processor, hand grater, or knife to shred the wax into smaller pieces. Try and obtain similarly-sized pieces for uniform melting.
If you use a food processor, follow all manufacturer safety instructions and use caution. Children should not be allowed to use the food processor unattended. If the tools you use will be used for food after this project, you will need to clean and sanitize them thoroughly.
Step 9: Melt Your Wax
Place your wax into a second hand pan or one that can be rendered useless for food.
Use low heat and stir constantly to achieve the best results. Be cautious and do not leave the wax unattended. Wax that is heated too quickly or not stirred frequently enough is liable to explode or catch fire.
Different waxes have different melting temperatures but regardless of what wax you’re using it should become translucent when it is completely melted. Once the wax is thoroughly translucent, remove pan from heat and allow cooling. When wax is cool enough it will return to opacity but remain liquid.
It is important that you wait until the wax is semi-opaque before
attempting this step because this means that it is cool enough to handle with minimal risk and will allow you to add any desired essential oils without them evaporating from the heat.
Once the wax is cooled to semi-opacity, add essential oils per manufacturer’s recommendation or personal preference. Stir thoroughly.
Step 10: Pour Your Wax
Confirm that your wax is semi-transparent and the pan is warm but not hot to the touch. Once you have confirmed that the wax is not hot enough to burn you, and your essential oils and wick are in place, pour your wax into the glass. We recommend pouring the wax over a bucket or sink full of water so that any spillage will be caught by the water.
Fill the glass within one quarter inch of the top of the glass. Ensure that the wick is centered.
Set in a room temperature, safe place to dry for at least 24 hours.
Step 11: Enjoy!
Once the wax is hardened, remove the pencil or other implement, and trim the wick to 1/4” above the top of the wax.
Candles should burn one hour for every 1 inch in diameter of the actual candle size. Candles should not be burned for more than four hours at a time.
After burning, and once the candle has cooled to room temperature, trim the wick to 1/4 of inch before relighting.
Discontinue use of the candle when ½” of wax remains at the bottom of the jar.
Always burn candles well away from drafts, other heat sources, and anything flammable. Make sure burning candles are out of reach of children and pets. Never leave a burning candle unattended.
Enjoy your new, beautiful candle!