My wife likes to go to garage sales, and she brought home a couple of floating candle holders without the floating things that hold the wicks. I tried making some floating wick holders out of a wine bottle cork, but that turned out to be a mess that really didn't work well at all. I was cleaning up the mess I had made with the cork experiment when I noticed that the bottom of the plastic bottle I was drinking tea from would make a great wick holding floating thing. Once you have a wick holding floating thing, you can turn just about any medium to large size glass or bottle into a beautiful floating wick candle, and the cost is negligible - I was going to toss the bottle into the recycle trash can anyway.
Step 1: Things You Will Need
- An empty plastic drink bottle. (The kind of bottle with the five humps on the bottom. Floating wick holder things made from small drinking water bottles without the humps on the bottom tend to tip, lose their air bubble and sink.)
- A craft knife or other small sharp knife.
- A glass or other suitable container (Don't use a jar or other container with curved top that would allow flame from wick to come into contact with the glass.)
- Food color.
- Short, 3/4 inch (18mm), wicks. (These can be purchased, made from cotton yarn, or removed from tea candles.)
- Cooking oil. (Olive oil burns cleanly and relatively odorlessly. DO NOT USE ANY PETROLEUM BASED PRODUCT!)
- Some water.
Step 2: Drill Hole for Wick in Center of Bottle Bottom
Use the point of the craft knife to drill a hole in the center of the bottle bottom. Do not push too hard while making this hole. The idea is to "drill" a hole in the bottom, and if too much pressure is used, the blade of the craft knife can punch through the plastic and make a mess of the bottle. Use a wick to check the size of hole every now and then. You want a hole that is big enough for the wick to pass through, while being small enough to hold the wick.
Step 3: Cut Off the Bottom of the Bottle
Use the craft knife to cut off about the bottom 1/4 inch of the bottle. Don't hurry this step. The thin sides of the bottle will cut VERY easily, while the material nearer the center of the bottle will be more difficult to cut, and a slip of the blade can ruin the whole thing - not to mention making a mess of the hand that is holding the bottle if you aren't careful.
When done correctly, the result of cutting around the bottom of the bottle will be a piece that looks like a flower with five petals as shown in the second picture below. This is the floating wick holder thing for the candle, and you can toss the remainder of the bottle.
Test the floater to make sure it floats by dropping it into a glass or bowl full of water. This will be no problem if a uniform depth of cut has been made around the entire perimeter of the bottom.
Step 4: Adding Water, Oil and Wick to Container
Now all that remains to be done is to insert the wick into the floater leaving about 1/2 inch sticking up above the top of the floater (the top of the floater is the down-side of the bottom, i.e. the humps point up when the floater is floating on the oil.), fill the container you have chosen to use for your candle about 3/4 full of water, add food coloring of your choice, pour in about a 1/4 inch of oil and drop the floater with wick inserted onto the top of the oil. Let the wick sit on top of the oil for a few minutes before lighting it.
The candle will burn until the wick comes into contact with the water under the oil. If you have purchased a large candle recently, read the safety instructions on the bottom of the candle before lighting one of these floating wick candles. Just in case you don't have a large candle around the house, let me remind you to never leave a burning candle or lamp within the reach of small children or leave it unattended - especially if you have a cat or dog in your home.