Welcome to the first post in my Candle Making series! Every Monday in April I’ll be writing about a candle making technique, so keep your eyes peeled if this is a subject you want to learn more about. Today we’re starting with the kinds of items that you probably have around the house that actually make great candle containers, so you can start to gather some stuff together ready to try making container candles next week.
The thing I love about making container candles with soy wax is the versatility of the craft. You might wonder how much variety you can get with a container candle but there are almost infinite combinations when you consider what you can change regarding the scent, colour and container. And you don’t have to stick to just one scent and colour per candle – you can layer them up, which is something I began experimenting with just before Christmas to a good reception.
Tumblers Or No Tumblers?
Anyway, this post isn’t about scent and colour. What I actually want to focus on here is the container that the candle is made in. You’ve doubtless seen candles in shops, and the container is generally something that looks like a glass tumbler, or maybe a jar or tin with a lid. Whilst this is lovely, it’s not very imaginative, especially if you are not going to dye your candle. If you’re planning to make a layered candle, a plain glass container would probably be preferable so you can see the full effects of your hard work! I come by a lot of tumbler-style glasses that I use in my candle-making business, but I also like to decorate them up a bit with strips of fabric or lace.
So, as I said, whilst tumblers are a nice, plain, inoffensive container, there are so many other options. And put simply, you can use anything that is heatproof and isn’t chipped or cracked. This is why teacups are great – they’re obviously designed to hold very hot tea, which is much hotter than the melting point of the wax in a properly made candle (and when I say properly made, I mean made with the correct wick size). Soy wax in particular is a great wax to use in unusual containers as it melts at a relatively low temperature, around 43°C/110°F depending on the exact blend and brand.
What To Avoid
One thing to bear in mind is not to use a container that is very narrow across, as it won’t allow the flame enough oxygen to continue burning as it works its way down the candle. And another important point relating to container width/diameter is try not to pick anything with too much of a difference between top and bottom – an example of this would be a martini glass. The reason why it’s best to avoid this is that it’s impossible to choose a wick size that is appropriate for the entire candle. Different wicks burn with a different flame size and create differently sized wax pools — this is how you can make a candle that burns all the wax to the edge of the container and doesn’t tunnel down the middle (the bane of any candle lover’s existence!). So you can imagine that if you have a container that’s very wide at the top and narrow at the bottom, you won’t be able to choose a suitable wick. It will either melt the wax at the top and then possibly be too hot at the bottom, or be just right for the bottom of the container and leave a lot of unmelted wax around the top.
Other than those pointers, just use your common sense. As I said above, teacups are obviously meant to hold hot tea, but if you’re looking at one that seems very old and delicate and you’re doubting its suitability as a candle container, just trust your gut instinct. The same goes for a glass with very thin walls. There’s so much stuff that you CAN use that it’s really not worth using something that might not withstand the candle making and burning processes.
Where To Look
I love looking in charity shops, flea markets and car boot sales for items that people don’t want any more, as they often make lovely candles. You can pick things up relatively cheaply, and whilst they might be outdated for their original use, they make beautiful candle containers! Keep your eyes peeled for things that fit your colour scheme and personal tastes and you’ll easily find more stuff than you need. Plus, you’ll get the warm glowing feeling of reusing and repurposing something that might otherwise be thrown away – and let’s face it, it’ll have way more character than a plain old tumbler!
Items That Make Great Candle Containers
- Bowls (as long as the top isn’t a lot wider than the base)
- Unusual tumblers like whisky glasses
- Wine glasses
- Terracotta plant pots (great for outdoor candles)
- Jars (also good for outdoor candles. A tall jar like a large pasta sauce jar will act as a kind of lantern as the candle burns down and help protect the flame from any breezes.)
- Old candle containers
When you’ve got the containers ready (and washed them so that they’re clean and dust-free), you’ll need the other items that go into making container candles: soy wax flakes (container blend), wicks with sustainers, fragrance oils, and dyes. The last two are optional of course, but I personally love a scented candle 🙂
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments!