Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Making Candles

One of the funniest stories my mom tells is about the time she stayed up until midnight canning cherries when the power went out.
It's a hilarious me.
Not to her.
Anyway, she looses her power rather often in the summer.

Today we are making candles at my mom's house.
This was a really fun project.
Next time the summer storms hit, Mom will be all set. 
Instead of buying candles for her outages, we made candles.  
What an easy thing to do.
Who knew?

First we gathered a bunch of supplies.
  • A large double boiler
  • An old plastic measuring cup
  • Old spoon
  • Glass jars...chipped canning jars, or any clean empty jar will work
  • pencils
  • hot glue gun
  • soy wax flakes
  • old towel
  • something to protect your counters like a clearance table cloth or newspapers
  • cotton wicks

Start by adding a few inches of water to the pot.

Heat the water up on a higher temp.
When the water begins to simmer and then turn it down to low.
You want to melt wax low and slow.

Then stuff the double boiler with a bunch of soy wax flakes.
Seven quarts of firmly packed flakes melted down to two and a half quarts of wax.

Put the double boiler over the pot of simmering water and let the wax do it's thing.

The melting process took less than a half an hour.

While the wax was melting, we glued the wick tabs to the bottom of the jar.
Just add a dab of glue to the bottom of tab and then push it down into the jar with a pencil.

My mom chose cotton wicks because they supposedly smoke less than other wicks.
The wicks are coated in wax so when you wrap them around the pencil, they stay put.
The reason you do this is so that you can center the wick after you pour the wax.

Here we set up a little assembly line. 
Melted wax on the left and a measuring cup to pour wax into jars in the middle.
We put the empty jars on a tray when we poured the wax into the jars so the dripping wax did not soak into the towel.  
Wax drips that harden on the tray can be scrapped up and reused.
Wax drips on the towel are wasted.

Here is our tray of jars all ready for wax.

We poured the wax into the measuring cup to avoid drips.
This worked the best for us.

This method did not work as well.
It was very drippy.

Our candles dried from the bottom up.

Once the candle was dry, you need to do two more things.
First trim the wick.
We left a long wick on the candle as we were trimming, we'll cut them down a bit more later on.
A short wick means a longer burning candle.
A long wick means a shorter burning candle.

 Don't freak out if you see this when your candles dry.  
It happens.
Wax shrinks as it cools.
But all you have to do is go back and add a bit more wax to the top of the candle.

You can see the little topper of melted wax that we added after the candles had dried.
You get a perfectly finished candle after you top it with a bit more wax.

To finish these guys off, we added a book of matches and the lid.
My mom spread the candles throughout her house.
They are attractive and ready to go.

Adding a sent or color to the candles would have been super simple.
I am thinking of making my own batch to give as gifts.
Look for soy wax flakes and cotton wicks on the internet if you cannot find it locally.
My mom just placed an order and had everything delivered to her house.

Break down:
Roughly a pound of wax made three half pint candles which should burn for roughly 40 hours each.
Candle wicks should be trimmed to 1/4 of an inch long.
Candles should be burned for at least 4 hours to get the maximum burning time.
Any sort of jar with a lid can be used.
We used Ragu jars, baby food jars, maraschino cherries jar and canning jars.
Since our jars were free, an eight ounce candle cost less than a dollar to make.
Scented, colored candles of the same size were going for over $13.00 on the internet.
I know that is not comparing apples to apples, but it gives you an idea of how much you can save by making your own.

I am linking to Thrifty Things Friday at The Thrifty Groove.


  1. Very cool! I loved the picture of the candle drying from the bottom up. You made it look so easy, who knew.

    1. There are a few for you to take home and try out. I love quick projects and this was easy to do once we were all set up. I hope you like them.

  2. Hey, Heather! It is storming like CRAZY out as I'm typing this, so it makes this post extra fun for me today!!! The power hasn't gone out (and I hope it doesn't!!!), but the lights have flickered a couple of times. The thunder has been so powerful that the chandelier in my office actually rattled!!!! I could use some of your Mom's candles right about now for insurance...just in case! :-) This is a really great tutorial on candle making. We used to do it as kids, and I had forgotten how much fun it can be. REALLY smart idea to use a touch of glue to make those wicks stay in place on bottom! Never thought of that!!! I'm headed over to see your recent pink tablescape that I somehow missed out on...probably because we've been traveling fools the past few weeks! Have a great and safe Memorial Day weekend, and I hope your Mom doesn't have to use too many of those candles this summer! :-)

  3. This is a great post! Love all of the step by step detail. Nothing better than being able to re-use a jar that was destined for the recycling bin:@)