I suddenly realised after spending a lot of money on
shop-bought candles that I could actually make my own for next to nothing!
I particularly like scented candles and for a decent sized
candle these can cost upwards of £3 each when bought at shops whereas I can make them for
start making your candles, you will need some basic equipment and tools. These are readily
available from craft shops, mail order or through the internet. You can buy the 'raw'
materials from any good craft shop or on-line. One essential item you will need is an old
saucepan in which to melt the wax.
Melting the Wax
Most 'home' candle makers use two old
stainless steel saucepans one inside the other. Boil the water 1/3 full in the bottom
saucepan and melt the wax in the top one. Do not leave the saucepan unattended for very
long as there is a risk that it may tip, spilling hot wax and water everywhere. You
need to watch the wax as it melts and when it is completely melted, you need to do
something with it fairly quickly!
You can add
colour to the melted wax to produce a variety of coloured effects but do not be
over-ambitious with your colour experimentation to begin with. I added colours to clear
wax and came up with some really revolting coloured candles that I didn't want 'out on
show'. Start with basic coloured candles such as red, yellow and blue and then experiment
Using old Candles
One way of saving money is to 'recycle' old candles. You will
inevitably find that the wick in a candle burns out before the wax and you are left with a
pile of wax and no wick to re-light the candle. This wax can be salvaged and you can melt
it down to reproduce another candle!
I frequently take the wax from a 'burnt out'
candle, re-heat it to melt it down, add a new wick and create a new candle for the price
of a piece of wick! If you do not recover much wax then you can always add some more and
'top up' the scent if necessary with scented sticks.
Never throw old candles away as they can always be used
What is Stearin?
Stearin is a useful additive to wax that
increases the depth of the colours, reduces dripping and improves burning. It also
increases the tendency of the paraffin wax to shrink, making removing candles from rigid
moulds much easier. Use 10% of stearin to wax.
N.B. Do not use stearin in rubber moulds as it
will rot them.
I have always made my 'new' candles in glass
containers that the candle originally came in but you can buy
rubber moulds to create new candles.
Prepare your moulds and containers
while the wax is melting. You can spray inside each plastic or metal mould with silicone
spray available at candle making supply stores. I recommend doing so, the candles always
release from the mould easily this way. You can also use vegetable oil to lightly coat the
inside of your moulds. If your mould has a hole in the bottom, thread the wick through
here and seal it on the outside with rubber putty. Stretch the wick to the open end of the
mould and suspend it here wrapped around a rod or pencil or something similar.
If you are making candles in glass containers, for example,
then you will need to secure the wick to the bottom of the container. I use 'blue
tack' for this.
When your moulds and containers are ready, and your wax is
melted, add the colour chips to your wax and melt fully. Then, at the last moment add your
scent. The scent is added at the last so it doesn't denature or dissipate through too much
heating for too long.
Now you can pour your candles. If you're aiming for a very
smooth surfaced candle, it helps to have the mould warmed and tilt the mould so the wax
doesn't fill the mould too quickly, and cause tiny air bubbles to form on the sides and
surface of your candles. Save some wax to refill the candles as they cool. I keep some wax
in a melted state for hours because as the candles cool the wax in the moulds and
containers contract and form a deep well right down the middle of your candle. Refilling
this well may be necessary several times.
Moulded candles can be made to look very even and shiny by
cooling them in a cold water bath. About 1 minute after you pour, take the entire mould
and set it in a container of cold water. Be careful not to get any water in your wax. It
will ruin a candle. You will likely need to weight your mould so it doesn't float or tip
in the water bath. Let the mould sit in its water bath after its second refill for about 2
hours. The final cooling process takes place at room temperature. It will take about 8
hours depending on the size of the mould for the candle to cool completely and be ready to
remove from the mould. You can speed this final cooling process by putting candles in the
refrigerator. Sometimes they will develop lines and tiny 'thermal shock' cracks which can
be quite attractive. Remove the mould from the refrigerator after it feels cold to the
touch. Any more cooling will result in many lines and tiny cracks, which means your candle
surfaces will flake off later. If you desire this effect, you can put the cooling mould in
the freezer for a half hour!
Remove the candles from the
If your finished candle has seams in it, you can gently
remove them with a knife. Flatten the base of a wobbly candle by rubbing it gently around
inside a warm fry pan until it melts flat. Polish finished candles with nylon stockings to
remove fingerprints and small scratches. To get a hard shiny protective surface on a
candle apply liquid candle sheen with a soft cloth. It is available at candle making
supply stores and it works great! A spray version is also available. Others have used
non-wax acrylic floor polish with good results. Floor wax has an odour, but the smell goes away when the wax hardens.
There it is - a cheap candle that will cost you next to
nothing and you will have the pleasure of creating it yourself.
Some sites to help you:
- site selling candles, candle making supplies and wax.