how to make candles at home

How to Make Candles at Home | The Definitive Guide

Making candles at home is a fun hobby that anyone can learn how to do! With candles soaring in popularity over the past few years, you might be wondering how you can make them yourself. We’ve got you covered with all of the tips and information you need to make your own amazing handmade candles at home. 

Types of Candles You Can Make at Home 

If you’ve seen a candle in the store that you loved, chances are, you can make your own version of it at home! With the right equipment and ingredients, you can make essentially any type of candle yourself. Here are a few of the most popular types of candles you can make at home:

  •  Container Candles - Any candle in a jar, tin, ceramic container or glass vessel is considered a container candle. You can easily make homemade soy, coconut or beeswax candles in a container. 
  • Pillar Candles - A pillar candle is a freestanding candle made of hard wax such as beeswax or paraffin. These candles are great for decorating, and there are tons of unique designs you can make. A classic cylindrical pillar candle is a popular design, but you can also make uniquely shaped pillar candles with molds such as these geometric shapes
  • Tea Light Candles - Tea lights are some of the most versatile candles, but they’re also among the easiest to make! Essentially you need is tea light cups, wicks, and a wax of your choice. 
  • Taper Candles - If you want to make your own candles for your dining room, you can! Taper candles can be made by pouring melted wax such as paraffin or beeswax into a mold. You can also make taper candles by dipping a wick into melted wax, letting it cool, and repeating the process until it forms a thick shell around the wick. 
  • Floating Candles - Floating candles can be used to create a beautiful aesthetic for a centerpiece or an at-home spa day. It’s easier to make floating candles than you might think. All you need is a set of fluted metal tart molds, some tealight wicks, and wax. 

What Types of Container Candles Can I Make?

Because container candles are arguably the most popular type of candle right now, we’ll focus on making candles in containers for the rest of this blog. We will go over the different types of wax, wicks, and fragrances that you can use to make essentially any type of container candle you want. 

Of the many types of candles you can make in a container, these are the most popular: 
  • Soy Wax Candles - Soy candles became popular in the 90s and have stayed that way ever since. Soy was one of the first vegetable waxes used for making candles, and it is still one of the top-selling types of wax today. It’s easy to make soy candles yourself with soy wax flakes
  • Coconut Wax Candles - In recent years, coconut wax blends have become a popular alternative to soy candles. These candles can be made from wax blends such as EC-26, Ceda Serica or CB2, which are all excellent choices for making your own container candles. 
  • Beeswax Candles - Beeswax is another extremely popular natural wax for making candles. Candles can be made with 100% beeswax or you can blend beeswax with other types of candle wax to make a custom blend. As a hard wax, beeswax works well for container candles or pillar candles. 
  • Gel Candles - High density gel wax is another type of wax you can use to make container candles. Gel wax is usually translucent, and there are lots of creative things you can do with colorants, embeds, and additives. Because of the properties of gel wax, you must pay attention to the flash point of the fragrance oil you are using. It is recommended that you use fragrances with a flash point at or above 170 degrees F. Read Flash Points 101 for more information. NorthWood does not currently sell gel wax but we will consider adding it in the future. 
  • Multi-Wick Candles - if you love the look of candles that have two or three wicks instead of just one, you can also recreate these at home. You’ll just need wick centering tools to make sure the wicks are lined up correctly. 
  • Wood Wick Candles - Candles with wooden wicks are very popular for their rustic feel and crackling sound. You can actually buy wood wicks to make your own wood wick candles at home! 

How to Make a Scented Candle at Home 

If you’re interested in making your own candles, chances are, you want to make candles that smell good. However, there’s also nothing wrong with making an unscented candle. In fact, people who make tea light candles, taper candles, and sometimes even pillar candles will intentionally make their candles unscented. 

That’s because tea lights and taper candles are often made for more utilitarian purposes. For example, tea light candles are used for certain types of wax tart warmers or in decorative votives. Pillar candles are usually used to create mood lighting rather than to smell good.

Container candles, on the other hand, are almost always scented. The fragrance you choose is usually the most defining feature of your candle. If you plan on making candles to sell, the scents you choose will be the thing your customers remember most.

There are hundreds of fragrance oils to choose from, and there’s really no wrong answer when it comes to picking a scent. If you’ve never bought fragrance oils before, trying a fragrance sample pack is a good way to get a feel for the types of scents you like.  

How to Make a Candle with Essential Oils 

Many people want to know if it’s possible to make candles scented with essential oils. While essential oils are great for diffusers and body care products, they’re actually not the best option for making scented candles. Essential oils might smell amazing when you open the bottle, but it’s practically impossible to get the same level of scent when you use essential oils in a candle.

Why? Essential oils are made with pure plant extracts, and don’t contain any other ingredients. Fragrance oils, on the other hand, are formulated with ingredients that are specifically designed to deliver a strong scent when used in a candle or wax melt. Because essential oils do not have these ingredients, their scent often cannot be detected at all when burned in a candle.

Given how expensive and rare many essential oil ingredients are, making candles with essential oils is not the best way to use them. Essential oils are best for diffusers and skincare products that allow you to enjoy the scent or the botanical properties of the oil.

If you still want to make candles with essential oils, the good news is that many fragrance oils actually contain essential oils in their recipe. Essential oils are often added to fragrance recipes to create more depth and complexity. On their own, essential oils are not suitable for making scented candles. But in a fragrance recipe with other ingredients, the scent from essential oils can be enjoyed in a candle. 

Supplies & Tools for Making a Container Candle  

Essentially all you need to to make a container candle is to prepare a container with a wick, melt your wax, add fragrance, and then pour the wax into the container. While the basic steps are easy, you do need to have a little background knowledge in order to make a candle correctly.

First, you’ll need to choose which ingredients to use. The container, wick, and wax you use will all need to be compatible with each other. 

  • When it comes to picking a container, you will want to use one that is sturdy, non-flammable and non-porous. It should be somewhere in the range of 2” to 4” in diameter. Smaller containers would work as well, but these would be categorized as tealights or votives. 
  • Once you have decided which container to use, you will need to pick a type of wax. Waxes such as EC-26, Ceda Serica, CB2, and Soy Wax Flakes are all great for making container candles.  
  • After deciding on a wax and container, you will want to refer to our Wick Size Chart for guidance on choosing an appropriate wick. This is a downloadable chart that you can print and keep at home for reference. 
Second, you will choose a fragrance and any other additives you would like to use. 
  • Any of our fragrance oils are suitable for making candles. If you don’t know where to start, you might want to check out our Best Selling Fragrances, or other popular collections such as Kitchen & Bakery Fragrances, Floral & Green Fragrances, or Warm & Woodsy Fragrances.  
  • We don’t recommend mica, glitter or other powdered colorants for making candles. Crayons are also not recommended. However, you can use Candle Dye Chips to make colorful candles. A wide variety of classic colors are available, as well as fluorescent dye chips. 
  • Additives like stearic acid are optional. Stearic acid can be used to make candle wax harder. We would recommend making your first batch of candles without additives so that you can form a baseline of how your candles perform without them. 

Third, you will need to gather some candle making supplies. In addition to wax, fragrance, wicks, containers, and any additives you want to use, you will need a few other tools.

Below are the basics of what you need to make a candle at home. Check out our blog on making your first candle for a detailed explanation of what each tool is used for. 

Steps for Making a Handmade Candle at Home

Once you have your supplies ready, it’s time to start making a candle! In this section, we will give you an overview of the steps you’ll take to make a candle at home. You can follow these basic steps to make essentially any kind of container candle. For in-depth tutorials that include specific candle recipes, check out How to Make Your First Candle or our Valentine’s Day Tealight Tutorial

  1. Determine how much wax your container(s) will hold. The easiest way to do this is to fill your candle container with water to about ½” from the rim (this is usually an appropriate fill level for your candle). Next, weigh the container on your scale. Multiply the weight by 0.86 to get the approximate amount of wax you need for your candle. For example, my candle container holds 490 grams of water. 490 x 0.86 = 421 grams. This means I will use about 421 grams of wax to fill one candle container. (.86 is the average specific gravity of most waxes - meaning most waxes are 86 percent as dense as water. Wax may be anywhere from 82-95% as dense as water depending on the type. This equation is just a reference).
  2. Cut and weigh the correct amount of wax for your candle. Use your scale to get a precise measurement rather than trying to weigh the wax by volume. 
  3. Make sure your container is clean and dry. Attach a wick to a wick sticker, then center it in the bottom of the container. Press on the glue to make it adhere. 
  4. Slide the wick into a centering tool such as a wick centering bar or bow tie wick bar. Then set the container aside. 
  5. Begin melting your wax using a double boiler or a wax melting pot. 
  6. Meanwhile, weigh your fragrance oil using your scale and a measuring beaker. Most candles do best with a fragrance load between 8 and 12 percent. To calculate the fragrance you need, simply multiply the weight of the wax by 0.8 for an 8% load, 0.10 for a 10% load, and so on. The resulting number is the amount of fragrance you will need to weigh. 
  7. Stir the wax as it melts. Check the temperature using your thermometer. Soy wax should be heated to no more than 185 degrees F, while coconut wax blends can be heated to 200-220 degrees F. 
  8. If working with soy wax, add fragrance when the wax temperature is 185 degrees F. If using a coconut wax blend, you can add fragrance when the wax reaches 200 degrees F. Stir the fragrance for 30 seconds to 2 minutes to allow the oil to fully bind with the wax. 
  9. Remove the wax from the heat. Let the wax cool to approximately 150 degrees F. 
  10. Once wax is around 150 degrees F, carefully pour it into your container(s). Fill to about ½” from the rim of the container. 
  11. Ensure that the wick is still straight and centered. Gently make adjustments if needed - the wick may detach if you handle it too roughly. 
  12. Let the candle cool completely before moving it. Once cool, you may trim the wick to ¼”
  13. Allow the candle to cure for at least 1-2 weeks before burning it. Candle wax will continue to harden after it is poured. It’s important to wait for the wax to become harder before you burn the candle. 

How to Test a Handmade Candle 

Testing candles is important whether you’re making them for yourself or for other people. Each time you make a candle with a new wax, fragrance, container, or wick, you should test the candle to make sure it burns safely. Check out our Guide to Wicking a Candle for more information on what you should be looking for when testing. Our Guide to Testing Candles is another great resource to read through. 

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