Feel free to email me melissa@thecreativeseason if you have questions. There are some great books on candle making available, many for very reasonable price on sites like Amazon. I’ve recently put away my candle making supplies, but I made them to sell for a few years during college and (mostly) for gifts and fun craft nights with friends and family. The best crafts are the ones where we gather people around, share the joy and make memories!
Candles are a wonderful gift to make and give. When you make your own candles, you know exactly what goes in them and maintain control of scents and other additives. Plus, it’s a ton of fun!
Making candles is a bit more intensive than other crafts and there are safety issues to be careful of. Wax is poured at temperatures of 140 degrees Farenheit; it is very, very hot! Please read all the instructions on the wax you buy, especially if you are not using paraffin wax. Different types of wax have different temperatures they need to be heated to in order to pour them.
Note: Candles are fun to make but they require paying attention to potentially dangerous elements and handling hot wax of more than 220 degrees. This is NOT a craft for children to do unsupervised. I used to teach candle classes for kids. I did not let them pour the wax into the molds; I did not want them to burn themselves.
That being said, with adult supervision, candles are a great craft to make. Chunk candles are especially fun because each person can design the look of their own candle. No two candles every look alike!
Candles are a lovely gift. Most everyone enjoys candles and home made ones are especially nice. Specialty stores can boast a wide variety of smells, few stores sell chunk candles. These ones take an artists approach and are really lovely.
You can create candles uniquely suited for people by adding your own scents, colors and styles. Decorating a candle gives the creative person another way to utilize their skills. Wrap them in cellophane and tie them with a bow. Wrap a complimentary bow around the middle of the candle. Or leave the candle as is, wrap it in tissue paper and put it in a festive bag to give.
Candles make lovely hostess gifts and Christmas gifts for many people.
Batching Tip: To batch for candles, you’ll need multiple molds so you can pour for more than one.
Batch one: I melt down my wax and add color to it. Then I pour the wax into cookie sheets. Allow it to harden, then break it up in chunks. I usually use a kitchen butter knife for this. Melting and pouring the wax takes only a few minutes. Don’t leave the wax alone but obviously, there’s not much to do while you wait for it to melt. Breaking up the wax chunks takes fifteen to thirty minutes depending how many cookies sheets of wax there are (and how tired your hand gets).
Batch Session #2: Prep the molds. The more molds you have, the longer it will take to prep them.
Batch Session #3: Melt the wax. Add the chunks. Pour the wax over them.
Color combinations: Consider what kinds of colors will go together. For Christmas I will make a cookie sheet of red wax, green wax, navy blue wax and gold/yellow wax. Red and green are the expected Christmas colors but other combinations include green and yellow/gold and red and gold. If I’m going to color the base wax color red, I’ll create white wax for chunks. A purple and blue candle with a few yellow chunks is very pretty too.
Rainbow candles are some of the prettiest I’ve seen.
When you make chunks and begin to use them for different candles, you’ll end up with piles of colors that aren’t enough for one candle. I’ll combine all of my leftover chunks into a mold and pour a white or light yellow or pink wax over it. It always turns out lovely.
You can use found items for candle making. I bought all of my candle making items from a candle supply company but I was also doing it as a hobby-business. If I was doing it as a hobby now, I would still buy a container to melt the wax in and a few professional molds.
The molds can be costly (around $14-20 a piece). There are a few alternatives to beat the costs. Use coupons. Most major craft stores have coupons for 40% or 50% of one item, especially at the holiday times. Buy one item at a time for a few weeks and you’ll have enough items to make lovely candles.
Molds last for a very long time. I’ve made dozens of candles in my molds and they work just as well today as they do when I bought them . The only thing I have to be careful of is not to drop them. Every once in a while, I’ve dropped a mold and it has bent on the top, making it hard to get the candle out.
My favorite shape molds include the
-tall medium sized round candle
-short medium sized round candle
-heart shaped mold
-star shaped mold
paraffin wax- I buy it in 10 pound blocks and break it up with a hammer.
Molds- I’ve bought molds but if you don’t have any you can use “found” objects in your open.
Pencils or chopsticks for holding the wicks in place
First, prep the molds. Make sure they are clean on the inside- no left over wax residue or bits of stuff- the molds tend to attract dust, bits of leftover wick, etc. The ‘stuff’ will get stuck when you pour the hot wax and cause irregularities.
Cut the wicks about 2-3 inches longer than the mold. Dip the wick in melted wax and allow to dry. After the wick is dry, insert it into the mold, about two inches out of the bottom. Take the screw and gently twist the screw into the hole. Because of the wick it won’t go all the way in. Wrap the excessive wick in a circle and put the putty directly over it.
Turn the mold over.
Take the wick on the other side and pull it taut. Now, wrap the wick tightly around the chopstick so that the chopstick can sit flat across the top of the mold. The “extra” wick should stick up or out the side.
Add in the chunks. The bottom of the candle is actually your top and the open part of the candle is the bottom. The chunks you put in first will be the most visible. Make sure it is packed with chunks around the wick (as much as possible, keep the wick straight as chunks go around it. Otherwise, it will burn at an odd angle). Make sure some chunks are pressing up against the sides. These will look very pretty when it is done.
Wait for the wax on the stove to get to 220F. Always use a thermometer to measure the temperature (a candy thermometer works perfectly). If the was is too cool, it will not set right. If it is too hot, the chunks will melt too much.
If the wax is too hot, turn off the heat and let it sit until it cools to 220F. If it is too cold and a film develops on top, turn on the stove until the temperature goes up. Remember, always heat wax on LOW temperature. Do not heat it higher. If wax gets too hot, it WILL catch on fire!!!!!
When the wax is melted, add the color and scent (if desired). Mix it well with a wooden spoon.
Slowly, pour the wax over the chunk-filled candle molds. Pour the wax until it is at the very top.
Take the wooden spoon and gently tap around the sides of the candle. This will release any air bubbles.
Let the candle sit for about 15 minutes. Take a think wire (I used a metal clothes hanger and bent it and I’ve used a kitchen knife) and insert it at a 40 degree angle into the candle. We want to release the air. FIll in the hole with wax. If we don’t the candle will sink in the middle and there will be hole. If that happens, fill in the hole with a bit of melted wax.
Wait at least six hours (or overnight) for the candles to cool completely. I sometimes put my candles into the refrigerator so they cool faster. I’m a bit impatient!
How to Tell When the Candle is Ready to Come Out
When the candle is ready it will release from the mold and you’ll be able to see down the sides.
Take off the putty from the bottom and unwrap the extra wick. Unscrew the screw with the mini screwdriver kit and pull it out. Turn the candle over. The candle may start to slip out. If it doesn’t, squeeze and release the mold. This helps to get the candle moving and “popped” out. If it is not budging, stick it in the refridgerator for thirty minutes and try again.
Once the candle comes out, trim the wick on the bottom as short as you can. For the top, leave an inch of wick. Trim it again before you light it.
Isn’t your candle lovely? It’s a unique, one of a kind gift your friends and family will enjoy. Candles make for lovely gifts that are both pretty and functional.
You might want to try layering colors on top of each other: a row of red, then green, then red, etc. Make sure the layers are fairly thick- at least a half inch. The heat and pressure of the wax tend to mush the colors together. (this creates a pretty look t00!).
Go for a monochromatic look for your minimalist friends and family. Turquoise chunks with turquoise wax poured over. The wax typically hardens to a slightly lighter shade and the offset of the lighter color poured over the darker is surprisingly stunning.
Include a candle holder with the gift as a lovely accent piece. You can wrap the candle in tissue paper and place it in a gift bag or show off your lovely handiwork in a clear bag. Be sure to keep away all candles from little ones!
If you’d like more ideas on homemade gifts for Christmas, you may find more inspiration in my latest Christmas book, Creating a Simply Joyous Christmas: Ideas and Inspiration for Celebrating the Season with What You Have, available on Amazon.