5 Steps to Make Candles
– Focus on candle making
– Step 1: Choose the wax
– Step 2: Melt the wax
– Step 3: Prime the wicks
– Step 4: Case 1: Fill a jar or a mould (except latex mould) upright
– Step 4: Case 2: Fill a latex mould upside down
– Step 5: Case 1: Finish the candles in the jars
– Step 5: Case 2: Turn out your candles (except latex moulds)
– Step 5: Case 3: Unmold your candles (latex moulds)
Two main techniques are used when making your candles: either the candles are poured into jars or moulds and then unmoulded.
This practical sheet explains step by step how to make candles using either of these two methods.
Focus on candle making
The ingredients and the specific material to make candles are sold in hobby stores or on the Internet.
There are several kinds of wax to make candles.
– Kerosene wax: with about 30% stearin added, it is the basic ingredient of many candles.
Caution: kerosene, a product derived from petroleum, releases carcinogenic toxins when heated. Occasional use is possible, but it is important to air the room. For regular use, I prefer natural candles.
– Beeswax: it is a natural wax, yellow or white. It is sold either in blocks or in the form of tablets. It can be used alone, but it burns with difficulty, tends to adhere poorly to the walls of the glass or mould and is very difficult to remove from the mould. These defects disappear if used in addition to kerosene (30% beeswax and 70% kerosene). This combination makes it possible to create candles that consume less quickly and release a pleasant odour of honey. However, beware of the toxicity of heated kerosene; remember to air the room. Another solution is to mix beeswax with vegetable wax (10 to 20% at least).
– Soy wax: this is a natural vegetable wax that is particularly easy to use for beginners since it does not require the addition of any other ingredient (there are no toxic fumes from kerosene). Moreover, it burns more slowly than a classic candle and diffuses its perfume more quickly (because it burns at a lower temperature). Last but not least, you can wash off soy wax stains with soap and hot water.
Wicks for candles
There are coated wicks of different sizes, with a small round metal foot. These are the easiest to use.
However, it is also possible to buy a coil of wick (flat wick, round, with zinc wire …). Cut to the desired length; the wick is then inserted on a base (also called wick holder).
The dyes for candles
There are dyes for candles in the form of grains, pigments or liquid: the latter are recommended because they are the easiest to use and perfectly miscible between them to obtain the exact shade of your choice.
Perfumes for candles
To perfume candles, you can use:
– specific perfumes for candles: liquid perfumes are the easiest to dose and exist in a wide range of scents (fruity, floral, woody …).
– essential oils: choose only oils whose flashpoint (the temperature at which the oil becomes flammable) is higher than 65°C. You will not take any risk with the following oils: rosewood, cinnamon (bark or leaves), Atlas or Virginia cedar, lemongrass, lemon eucalyptus, Egyptian or bourbon geranium, clove (cloves or leaves), spike lavender, lemongrass, peppermint, patchouli, vetiver, whole ylang-ylang.
Note: use the specific properties of each essential oil in your candles! For example, citronella candles will keep mosquitoes away; lavender candles promote relaxation.
To pour the candles, you can opt for:
– simple or more sophisticated glasses, or even pretty glasses, cups, jam jars…
– Moulds: thanks to the different materials (plastic, metal, latex, silicone) and shapes of the moulds, it is possible to make candles of multiple shapes (high candles, floating flat candles, geometric or heart-shaped candles, stars, flowers, etc.). Latex moulds allow you to make original candle shapes (characters, animals, etc.) with precise details.
Caution: never use stearin with latex moulds, as it deteriorates them.
Materials needed to make candles
Container (glass, mould)
Coated wicks on base or wick spool
Liquid food colouring
Pair of scissors
Opaque plastic bottle
1. Choose the wax
To make candles, you can use:
– either a paraffin-based mixture: about 70% kerosene and 30% stearin (classic candle), or 70% kerosene and 30% beeswax (for its fragrance) ;
– or beeswax or a mixture of beeswax and vegetable wax (at least 10 to 20 %), with the process of the candle, poured in glass only;
– or soy wax, to make natural wax candles only.
2. Melt the wax
Before you begin candle-making, cover your work area with newspaper. Instead of cleaning up the leftover wax, throw the paper away at the end of the activity!
Remember, if you are using kerosene wax, be sure to ventilate the room when you heat it because of its toxicity.
– It is best to keep a small pan used exclusively for melting your candle wax: this will save you tedious cleaning.
– Make a water bath by filling a larger pan with water and placing your small wax pan in it.
– Melt the wax or waxes in the water bath until the mixture is liquid.
Caution: never melt wax in a pan directly on the stove without a double boiler, as the wax may ignite.
– Add it or the dyes (you can make mixtures), and the perfume or some drops of essential oil.
– Mix well with a wooden spatula.
Caution: To avoid the risk of fire, always stay close by while the wax is melting. If you have to leave the room, always turn off the heat source as a precaution.
3. Prime the wicks
If you haven’t opted for base-coated wicks, you should prime the wicks.
– Dip a wick in the melted wax for 2 to 3 minutes.
– Remove the wick, pull the ends taut (so that it is straight) and let it dry on aluminum foil.
– Repeat this process for each wick.
– Finally, insert a base on one end of the wicks and pinch the base with scissors to secure it.
Good to know: the base is unnecessary if the candles are made in latex moulds.
4. Case 1: Fill a glass or a mould (except latex mould) upright
– Pour 2 cm of slightly cooled but still liquid wax into the container (glass or mould).
– Place the coated wick in the middle, with the foot touching the bottom of the container.
– To keep the wick upright, wrap the top end around a stick placed on the container (or wedge the end between two sticks held together with rubber bands and placed on the container).
– Continue filling the container with melted wax to within 1 cm of the rim.
Tip: If you make striped candles with different coloured waxes, always wait for the first layer to cool completely before pouring the next one.
4. Case 2: Fill a latex mould upside down
A soft latex mould is filled upside down: head down and base up. Therefore, it is necessary to install the wick of the candle and place the mould upside down to fill it with wax.
– Pierce the head of the mould with a needle. Pass the wick through it and let it come out about 2 cm at the head and the base of the mould.
– Seal the needle hole (outside of the mould) with a piece of the waterproof paste to prevent the wax from leaking out when it is poured into the mould.
– Cut a hole in a piece of cardboard to fit the base of the mould, and slide the mould into the hole so that the latex bead is pressed against the cardboard.
– Place the cardboard with the mould upside down on a cut plastic bottle filled with water.
– Stretch the wick by wedging the end (with or without a base) between two rubber bands to be vertical and centred.
– Pour the wax by gently tapping the cardboard to fill the mould.
5. Case 1: Finalize the candles in verrines
– Let the verrine be filled with melted wax excellent.
Note: you can speed up the process by putting the verrine in the refrigerator for 10 minutes unless your candle contains beeswax.
If a small hollow has formed around the wick, pour some more melted wax to fill it and let it cool.
– Cut the wick 2 cm above the surface of the candle.
5. Case 2: Unmould your candles (except latex moulds)
– Once the mould is filled with melted wax, let it cool down a bit and then place the mould in the freezer for about 10 minutes (the candle will be easier to unmold).
– Remove the candle from the mould, which is not a problem because the wax shrinks slightly as it cools.
– Cut the wick 2 cm above the surface of the candle.
– Once removed from the mould, you can decorate the candle with inlays, glue or paint.
5. Case 3: Remove your candles (latex moulds)
– When the wax has cooled down, coat the mould with edible oil or dishwashing liquid to avoid damaging it.
– Remove the candle from the mould by gently rolling the mould.
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