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.

  1. 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.I love the natural look and scent of soy wax, so I skipped colouring agents and essential oils, but if you’d like to add a colour chip (available for purchase where you find soy wax), add it once the wax is melted and then stir to mix it in completely.
  2. Once the wax is heated to 185F, I let it cool to about 125-130F before pouring.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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!

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