Welcome to the second post in my Candle Making Series. In the first post we looked at the items that make great candle containers, which is great for getting creative and upcycling. Today we’re going to talk about how to actually make container candles.
I love making container candles. I got started about a year and a half ago, just before Christmas 2013. My OH and I were looking at ideas for homemade Christmas presents, to make our gifts more meaningful, and I stumbled across the idea of making scented candles. I have always been a candle lover so I decided this would be a good skill to have under my belt anyway, but I also knew that my OH’s mum loves candles and in particular anything vanilla scented. See, that’s the bonus of making your own – you can personalise the scent to the recipient, which makes your gift ultra thoughtful. (We actually got extra brownie points as we found a teacup with a sunflower on it on Ebay, which we knew she’d love as they’re her favourite flower.) So you can see how this is instantly more meaningful than a shop-bought candle.
Because we’ll all be using different size containers to make our candles, I’ll tell you an easy way to work out the approximate weight of wax your container will hold. The method I’m about to show you will mean that you prepare a little more wax than you think you will need, but it’s really handy to have some spare in case you need to top up a candle that has sunk or cracked – and it beats having to prepare more and get an exact colour match on wax that you’ve dyed.
HOW TO WORK OUT THE WEIGHT OF WAX TO USE
- Pour water into your container to the height that you want the candle to be. This might be 1-2cm from the top.
- Pour the water into a measuring jug and note the amount in millilitres. This amount is the approximate TOTAL amount in GRAMS of wax, dye and scent you will need to make your candle.
- We need to do a bit of maths now, to make sure your candle is scented beautifully. But don’t panic! Take a look at the example below and hopefully it will all make sense…
I have a teacup that holds 150ml water. This means my total mixture (wax, dye and scent) needs to weigh 150g. The recommended amount of scent used is around 5% of the weight of the wax. But, for simplicity’s sake, I will work out the percentage of fragrance from the total weight of the candle (see NOTE below): 5% of 150 is 7.5g (150/100 = 1.5 [this is 1%] and 1.5 x 5 = 7.5 [this is 5%]) I normally round up the figure just for ease, so I would use 8g of fragrance for my teacup candle.
So if the total candle needs to weigh 150g and I am going to use 8g of fragrance, that leaves 142g for the wax and dye. The amount of dye needed for one candle would barely register on your scales unless they’re super sensitive or you were making a very bold colour, so I would just use 142g wax, 8g fragrance, and the shavings of dye required to make the desired colour. I would also tend to round the amount of wax down by a few grams, just because grams and millilitres aren’t exactly the same amount.
In the end, I would use 140g wax, 8g fragrance, and the shavings of dye required to make the desired colour.
(NOTE: I say that the amount of fragrance should be 5% of the weight of the wax, but any maths purists out there will recognise that 8 is not 5% of 140 [which is the amount of wax you are required to use in your teacup candle in the end]. I don’t want to offend or confuse anyone, but I’m merely offering a simple, straightforward way to work out how much wax and scent to use based loosely on the volume of the container. This is how I work it out for my container candles and I find it makes a beautifully scented candle that sets really nicely. If you want to get more complicated with the maths, please do so by all means, but don’t feel the need to tell me about it 🙂 )
So, with my formula in mind…
If your container holds 100ml water, you would use 90g wax and 5g fragrance.
If your container holds 200ml water, you would use 180g wax and 10g fragrance.
After all that – and I’m praying you’re still with me and haven’t been put off by the need to do maths to make candles – let’s get into the method for making these container candles.
- Never leave melting wax unattended.
- Hot wax can burn, so this isn’t an activity for children, and keep pets well away.
- Cover your work area and clothing to protect against any spillages.
- Never overheat wax; it doesn’t boil to signify that it is too hot, it will just catch fire.
- In the unlikely event of a fire, DO NOT try to dowse with water but cover the fire with a damp cloth or a fire blanket.
- Wick with sustainer (make sure the wick is the right type for the wax and container you are using)
- Container blend wax
- Dye (optional)
- Fragrance (optional)
MELTING THE WAX
Melt the soy wax in a double boiler or a bowl over a pan of water. DO NOT melt the wax in a pan directly on the cooker as this is a fire hazard. For the best possible result, you should use a thermometer to check the temperature of the wax when you are melting it. It should reach somewhere in the range of 46-54°C.
PREPARING THE CONTAINER
Use a little melted wax to stick your wick sustainer in the glass, making sure it is as central as possible. Allow that to set. Have a clothes peg or skewer ready to hold the wick upright as it may flop when the wax is poured.
ADDING THE DYE
You now need to add the dye to the wax, if you’re using it. The colour of the molten wax will be more intense than the colour when it sets, so bear than in mind when adding the dye. If in doubt, allow a little of the coloured wax to set on a white plate or something similar so that you can see the colour the finished candle will be. Bear in mind that you can add more dye but you can’t take it away! Ensure the wax is in the range of 50-54°C before you add the dye, and then stir it well to thoroughly incorporate. Take the wax off the heat when the dye has dissolved and pour it into a jug if it’s not in one already – this will make the final pour a lot less messy.
ADDING THE FRAGRANCE
The fragrance goes into the wax mixture next. Stir well to make sure it is properly combined and to avoid pools of fragrance in the finished candle. Adding the fragrance oil will bring the temperature down so make sure you are ready to pour after stirring this in.
POURING THE WAX
The ideal pouring temperature for the wax is 43-54 degrees Celsius. Pour the wax slowly into the container, then tap the container on the work surface gently to release any air bubbles. Make sure the wick is still central, securing it with the clothes peg or skewer, and then leave the candle to set. For best results, it should be out of any draughts and not in a cold place. Don’t put the candle in the fridge to speed up the setting process as the wax will crack.
If you have any wax left over when you’ve poured your candle, hold onto it until the candle has set completely. If an air bubble gets trapped in the candle, the surface can dip a little, and it can crack if it cools too quickly. If this happens you can remelt the surplus wax (until just melted, not to any specific temperature) and top up the container.
BURNING YOUR CANDLE
You should leave your candle to stand for at least 24 hours before burning. Before lighting, trim the wick so it is no more than 0.5cm long. Then you’re ready to enjoy your homemade candle!
It may seem like common sense, but there are a few rules to follow when burning candles to ensure you and those around you can enjoy your candle safely:
- Never leave a burning candle unattended.
- Keep a lit candle away from draughts and vibrations.
- Keep the candle out of reach of children and pets.
- Never burn your candle on or near anything that can catch fire.
- Trim wick to 5mm before lighting to prevent smoking or flickering flame.
- Keep candle free of any foreign materials, including matches and wick trimmings.
- Only burn the candle on a level, fire resistant surface.
- Do not burn the candle for more than 4 hours at a time.
- Never use a chipped or cracked container as it may shatter.