Monday, June 10, 2013

How to Make Your Own Homemade Container Candles

I've written before about making container candles, but this post will explain the process in detail, so you can make your own.

  • Soy wax flakes for container candles --soy burns at a lower temperature than paraffin and burns quite cleanly and efficiently, leaving very little candle left inside the jar.  [I use soy currently, though I'd like to find a non-GM substitute] I buy mine from eBay shop Torbay Supplies in 10kg boxes --it's cheaper that way!  For starters, I would advise purchasing about 1kg. 
  • Candle fragrance oils --these are artificial, unlike essential oils. They are specifically formulated for optimum burning.  You can try using essential oils, but you will need to use quite a large amount to obtain a good fragrance, and remember that their "burning smell" will differ slightly from their normal scent. Good-quality candle fragrance oils can be found at reliable eBay shop Candles and Aromatics
  • Emptied, clean jam jars --look for jars with a diameter of more than two inches but no more than three.  
  • Pre-tabbed candle wicks --these are cotton [lead-free] wicks already attached to the round metal tab that will secure them to the base of the candle.  I purchase 5" or 6" wicks on eBay from the same shop as the candle fragrance oils mentioned above.
  • Glue gun or super glue --to attach the wick's tab to the base of the jar.  I prefer using a glue gun, as the used tab easily peels away from the base of the burned-out candle when you want to clean the jar for recycling or re-using.
  • Ball-point pen barrel --using a regular ball-point pen, unscrew the components and discard until you're left with the tube.  Your wicks will be threaded through this and used to tamp down the tab at the bottom of the jar as it's gluing to the base.
  • Ice-lolly [popsicle] sticks and clothes-pegs --used to clip and balance the wick so it stays in the centre of the candle during the process.  I also use ice-lolly sticks for stirring the melting wax.  
  • Stainless steel saucepan, Pyrex glass jug, and stainless steel teaspoon

Preparing the jars:  Pre-heat oven to gas mark 1.  Set jars on an oven-proof tray.  Glue the metal tabs of the wicks to the base of the jar, centring as well as you can, manipulating and pressing down with the help of the ball-point pen tube.  If the mouth of the jar is wide, rest the ice-lolly stick across the top of the jar.  Straightening the wick as well as you can, peg it with the clothes-peg and balance it on the stick, or on the edge of the jar.  Set the tray of prepared jars aside until the soy wax flakes have melted.

Melting the wax:  I melt soy wax flakes using a double-boiler method, in a Pyrex glass measuring jug placed in a small stainless steel saucepan of simmering water.  Soy wax melts at low temperatures and will not burn your skin if the melted wax makes contact, but do use caution while melting wax!  Some candle-making instructions describe melting it in the microwave but I've never needed to try this. The stove-top melting method is incredibly easy, with little clean-up involved, and the temperature of the wax can be easily controlled.  The temperature you want to reach for melted soy wax is 90C, and you can use a kitchen thermometer to test this.  For one medium jam jar candle, fill the jug about 3/4 full of wax flakes.  This will melt to around ten ounces of liquid wax.

Heating the jars:  When the wax flakes have nearly melted, place the baking tray with the prepared candles into the oven to heat.  This process acts like a test of the jars you're using.  If the glass of a jar will not be able to stand the heat of the burning candle or the hot wax, it will split at this temperature.  Don't worry; jam jars unable to withstand heat are rare! I've only had two broken ones out of the seventy-plus candles I've made so far.  

Pouring:  After the jars have been in the oven for five minutes, remove them.  Remove the jug of hot wax (heated to 90C) from the double boiler and allow to cool to 65C before adding the fragrance oil. You will need about 3ml of fragrance oil for every 100g of wax that you melted.  This equates to around 1- 1.5 oz of fragrance oil for every 16 oz of liquid wax. Stir well and pour the fragranced, liquid wax into the hot jars.  Stabilise the wick, ensuring that it is in the centre of each candle.

Finishing: Set candles aside to cool in a safe place.  Allow them to cool for twenty-four hours before burning. To finish, trim the wick to one-quarter of an inch, and keep it trimmed to this length as you burn through the candle.  Burn candles for no more than two hours at a time; this enables them to burn down evenly.

Clean-up:  Wash all utensils and containers used in hot soapy water.  Melted soy wax cleans up very easily and you should have no problem removing it from the everyday kitchen items you've used.

Any questions about making container candles at home? Ask me in the comment box and I'll do my best to answer!


  1. Awesome job for a rainy day! I've not made candles in years. I'm glad you use the candle specific scents. Essential Oil doesn't burn too well and burning them makes some turn bad for us or the environment. Best keep them for steam related heat or soft/indirect heat and use some of the amazing smells created for candles to boost or calm and enjoy.
    Keep on creating!

    1. It is a rainy-day activity! Maybe that's why I've made so many. :)

  2. abigail frederick6:14 pm

    I love that you can see it is raining outside in your first picture.:) You are a good teacher!

    1. I like that rainy snapshot too! :)


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