I have been wanting to try my hand at making candles for years and I finally decided that the holiday season was a perfect excuse to finally go for it! Handmade soy candles make thoughtful gifts, plus you can create custom candles to complement your holiday decorating and table settings perfectly!
Thrift stores, antique shops or the clearance aisle at your favorite home goods store are the best places to find unique vessels, but candle-making is also great opportunity to re-purpose an odd-numbered set of glasses, a lonely sugar bowl – all of those beautiful vessels you haven’t wanted to throw out.
- Natural soy wax flakes (I bought a 10 pound bag from Amazon)*
- Candle wicks (Also from amazon, mine are coated in soy wax)
- Food scale
- Candy thermometer (a meat thermometer works too)
- Double boiler (I used an old, large Pyrex measuring cup inside a pot of boiling water)
- Oven mitts
- Glue gun (to affix the wicks)
- Wood stir stick (from the paint department of a home improvement store)
- Tape (to keep wick upright)
- Damp rag (to wipe wax off thermometer before it hardens)
- Candle scents/dye (optional)
*1 pound of soy wax flakes will produce enough melted wax for approximately three, 8oz candles. I made multiple batches of candles, working in 1 lb increments.
Using my makeshift double boiler, I melted 1 lb of soy wax to 185F (which took approximately half an hour). I placed my Pyrex measuring cup in a pot of boiler water – keeping my eye on it the whole time – but a real double boiler would be much more convenient. I started out using a saucepan but found that a pot with tall sides worked better.
While I waited, I used a hot glue gun to affix the wicks to the various vessels I had collected. I used a piece of tape to keep the wicks upright, but you can also pinch the wick in a clothespin and rest it on top, or wrap the end of the wick around a pencil. You just want to make sure the wick stays centred and upright.
Some candle makers suggest warming the vessels beforehand to slow the cooling process of the wax – this helps produce a better candle.
Once the wax has cooled to 130F you can add scents. You can purchase scents designed for candles or use essential oils. If you add the oil too soon, when the wax is too hot, it can evaporate.
After the wax has reached 125F, gently pour it into your vessels. It will look like olive oil and will pour easily. Once it’s poured, leave it undisturbed and watch as the wax hardens and turns a creamy shade of white.
Let the candles dry overnight and then trim the wicks to 1/4″ (trim to this height after each use as well). I waited 48 hours before burning mine.
Candle making is quite the science and everything – from the temperature of the room to how hot the wax is – can impact the success of the candle but, overall, the process is simple – especially if you’re making candles for yourself and aren’t concerned with mild imperfections. Mine turned out well and they burn perfectly! The wax melts softly and the soy is smoke-less. The wicks
haven’t drowned like with some store-bought candles, even though I’ve burned some of my candles all evening long. Plus, they’re gorgeous!! I love how unique they are, thanks to a collection of vintage glasses and bowls.
This was a set of three glasses I picked up thrifting – I love the gold wheat sheaf design. I think this trio is my favorite.
This grey sugar bowl – with an iridescent glaze and tomato red trim – was actually something I scooped up at my local landfill, where there’s a shed to leave usable items. I had to save it!
This beautiful gold dish was another thrift store score – I kept looking for more, hoping to make a set, but never found another one. I’m thrilled to give it a new lease on life as a candle!
This set of four glasses just would not sell in my vintage Etsy shop, and it was heart-breaking to see them languish on a shelf! I love how the white candle wax really helps the design stand out now.
This pink milk glass goblet was picked up at a yard sale one summer and I’ve kept it stashed in a cupboard for too long!
I have used this glass dish all over the house: as a mini planter, as a catch all and now, as a candle.
This Sadler sugar bowl was another gem I found at the landfill. The matching creamer was broken, so I thought it was a perfect excuse to use it as a candle vessel.
Be careful when choosing containers: carefully inspect for any cracks that could burst open from the heat. On very rare occasions, glass can crack from the heat so it is always recommended to place something under a burning candle to protect your surfaces. And, of course, never burn a candle unattended!
Happy candle making!