I love candles, but they can be so expensive. On a recent trip to California, I learned how to make my own candles. I can’t believe how fast, easy and inexpensive it is! If you can boil water and place an online order, you too can make candles.
Where to Stock Up on Candle Making Supplies
First you need to gather your candle making supplies. Don’t you dare step one foot into your local Michael’s unless you get a sick satisfaction from overpaying for a terribly limited selection. If you are in the Los Angeles area, definitely take a trip to General Wax in North Hollywood. For the rest of us, they also offer online ordering. And since my town’s one coffee shop is only open 16 hours a week, you probably aren’t surprised that there is no candle making supply store here!
The outside of this place is totally nondescript and its business name doesn’t match the building, but this place is the answer to all of your candle making prayers, of which I am sure you have many. Inside, there is a wide assortment of pre-made candles (we’re not here for those!), wax, wicks, scents, supplies, containers and more… basically everything you desperately need to make candles.
Candle Making Shopping List
Here is a list of basic supplies needed to make your candles. Each item links to what I’ve used with success, though there are other brick and mortar stores and tons of other places online to order supplies. Even Amazon.com offers candle making supplies.
- Melting Pot
- Candy thermometer
- Large Pot (to create a double boiler for the melting pot)
- Candle wax. (I use soy wax flakes that come in a 5 lb bag. This should make you about 10-12 medium sized candles)
- Wicks (choose the size based on the diameter of your candle)
- Scent (optional, but why would you make a candle if you don’t want it to smell yummy? You’ll use about 1 oz per pound of wax)
- Dyes (optional)
- Wick Bars (they are just popsicle sticks with holes drilled in the center)
- Glue Dots or a glue gun
- Stir Stick or wooden spoon
- Containers (This is the best part! The linked containers are only $0.69 each, but there are many other creative and inexpensive options)
Heaven in a Fedex box:
It’s very inexpensive! First, you will need to assemble your candle making laboratory with the purchase of your basic kit of supplies — melting pot, thermometer and scale — which shouldn’t set you back more than about $30. The best part about this purchase is it’s a one time thing, as these supplies can be used in perpetuity of your candle making career. And if you actually use your kitchen for things other than candle making or cocktail mixing, you may already own the scale and thermometer. The pour spout on the melting pot is key, so don’t skimp by trying to get by with a regular pot.
For about $45, you can get everything else (wax, wicks, scent, dye, containers etc.) that you need to make about 10-12 candles in the 8-10 ounce range (you can make more or less depending on how large or small your containers are), with some leftover materials. Compare that to how much you would spend on the same number of pre-made candles!
Selecting your containers lets you customize your candles in fabulous ways. This is my favorite part of candle making! You can make candles in any glass, metal or ceramic containers you can find. Look around your home to see what you might already have. Cocktail glasses, candy jars, and tins are all contenders. Check out the bric-à-brac section at your local Salvation Army or discount stores like T.J. Maxx for inexpensive options. If you start making candles you will literally ponder the candle making container potential of every single object you come across.
And if you want to get fancy, there are endless vintage options! Check out some containers from Etsy that would make great candle containers:
1. green pyrex 2. ball jars 3. cocktail glasses 4. milk glass candy jar
You can pretty much make your candle smell like anything you want– even Cookies for Santa! There are so many options–fruity, flowery, sweet–the options seem endless. Just make sure your scents are specially formulated for candles so you get a good strong scent when burning your candles. Again, General Wax is my go to place for scents. There are so many options, in a variety of sizes and at great prices!
Once you’ve got your supplies gathered together, the fun begins! This whole process from start to finish should take about 30 minutes.
Take your kitchen scale and weigh the melting pot. Then, add wax until you reach one pound plus the weight of the melting pot. The soy wax comes in flakes and is easy to measure. So, in my case I added wax until the scale measured 24.5 ounces (8.5 oz melting pot + 16 oz wax = 24.5 oz). You can make smaller or larger batches as desired.
You can use any large pot to create a double boiler for the melting pot. Place the melting pot in your larger pot and add water until the pot is almost full. Turn the burner on to high. Attach the thermometer to the side of the melting pot so it descends into the wax and you are in business! Turn down the temperature when the water begins to boil out of control. No need to cause any third degree burns while candle making.
While the wax is starting to melt, you can prep your containers.
Start by affixing the wicks to the bottom of the containers so they remain in place when the melted wax is poured. You can use glue dots or a glue gun to accomplish this. Try to center the wick as much as possible at the bottom of the container, so your candle burns evenly.
Then, take use the wood wick bar to stabilize the wick. Thread the wick through the hole in the wick bar and let it rest on the top sides of the candles. It works great to bend the wick over the wick bar so the wick is taut.
Stir In Dyes and Scents
Check back on your wax to see how it’s coming. You want it fully melted and about 175-200 degrees Fahrenheit before you add the dye and then the scent. There are lots of opinions online about the perfect temperatures, so you might need to experiment a little with the supplies you’ve chosen. My candles turn out perfect when I heat the wax to 200 degrees, then take the wax off the heat before adding any dye and scent. The wax will begin to cool slowly, and by the time I’m done mixing in the dye and scent the wax is at a good temperature to pour.
Go ahead and add your dye and stir thoroughly until it is completely combined. If you prefer a nice, milky white color skip the dye.
Now, add your scent. Measure about one ounce per pound of wax; you can add a little more or a little less depending on how strong you want your candle to smell. Just don’t go overboard. Stir, stir, stir to be sure it’s fully incorporated into the melted wax.
You’re almost done! Pour the wax into each of your containers. If you’re super perfectionist about it, you might want to keep a little extra to do a second pour once your candles cool. It’s common with soy candles for the wax to settle a little. This second pour will ensure that you have a nice flat top. But you’re going to burn the candles anyway, so I don’t bother with that fussiness.
Here is a batch of candles after they have cooled. Once they are fully cooled, you can remove the wick bars and trim the wicks.
Congratulations! You have now earned your degree in candle making!
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