How To Make Candles: A Step-by-Step Guide | Architectural Digest

2024.02.07 20:59

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How to Make Candles: A Step-by-Step Guide 

Store-bought flames can’t hold a candle to when you DIY

By Amelia Mularz

June 22, 2023 Illustration: Ellie Schiltz/Getty Images Save Save

Give a person a candle, and they’ll have home decor for days. Teach a person how to make candles, and they’ll have home decor for a lifetime…or so goes a crafter’s version of the famous quote. There’s a reason candles are a go-to gift —they’re mood setters, relaxation promoters, and coziness creators . They’re also an integral part of interior design, especially with the growing popularity of scentscaping, or choosing signature fragrances to make your house smell good .

“Candles placed in various rooms in a signature scent keep your home smelling fresh and inviting all year—it’s classic and chic,” says interior designer Sherrell Neal of the Houston-based Sherrell Design Studio .

You likely have a candle or two in your home right now, but have you ever tried making your own candles? Here, we’ve gathered general tips about DIY candle making and created a step-by-step guide to whipping up your own wick-centered flames.

What candle wax is best?

Soy wax is a natural option for your DIY candle-making. 

Photo: Mariya Tsapenko/Getty Images

There isn’t one wax that’s necessarily the best, but depending on your goals, some wax types are better than others. Paraffin wax is affordable and holds both fragrance and color really well. However, it’s derived from petroleum so it’s not the most sustainable choice. Soy wax, on the other hand, is natural and slow-burning. Though it doesn’t hold fragrance as well as paraffin, it’s still a solid option. Beeswax is environmentally friendly and has a long burning time. And it does have a natural honey scent, but it won’t hold fragrance oils as well as the other two. Finally, coconut wax is vegan, sustainable, and holds a scent well. The downside? It can be pricier than the rest.

How do you make strong-scented candles?

Generally speaking, the more fragrance oil you add to your melted wax, the more aromatic the candle will be. And as mentioned above, the type of wax you choose has an effect too. The basic ratio is one ounce of oil per pound of wax. Troubleshooting to find your ideal formula is a good idea, but this is a decent place to start.

As for the fragrance itself, essential oils are a go-to for DIY scented candles. You’ll also want to consider the scents that’ll give you the most bang for your buck. Lavender, lemon, orange, cinnamon, and peppermint are all powerful aromas. Use a single scent or blend oils for a more complex fragrance. You’ll end up with an aromatherapy candle worthy of your favorite wellness room .

Is it cheaper to make your own candles?

Homemade candles can certainly be budget-friendly, especially when you consider that a single store-bought candle can easily cost $30 or more. If budget is a concern, especially if you’re making a large batch of DIY candles, using synthetic scents will be substantially cheaper than essential oils. You can also buy your wax in bulk on Amazon. For example, a 45-pound bag of microwavable soy wax beads costs $129, about the same price as a single high-end multiwick candle.

How profitable is selling homemade candles?

There’s plenty of competition in the candle industry, but that doesn’t mean you can’t blaze your own trail. To stand out in a crowd, create unique aromatic blends, especially ones that pay homage to the time of year or area where you’re selling your goods. For example, whip up cinnamon-scented votives for autumn or an ocean-inspired fragrant candle for coastal communities. Another idea is to play with shape. Use molds to create sculptural or twisted taper candles, which are popular right now. Or customize the outside of a pillar candle with pressed flowers, burlap, or twine tied into a bow.

1. Gather your supplies

Depending on the wax you choose, you may not need everything here (wax from Siblings , for example, is microwavable so you can skip the double boiler). But for a basic tutorial, these are the candle-making supplies you’ll need:

Container Wax (soy wax flakes are ideal for beginners) Double boiler Candy thermometer Wicks Wick stickers (optional) Popsicle sticks or chopsticks Fragrance oils Heat-resistant spatula Scissors or wick trimmer

2. Prepare your candle container

Make sure to clean your vessel. 

Photo: Basak Gurbuz Derman/Getty Images

Picking your vessel is half the fun and a huge part of what makes your candle unique. Reuse the holder from an old candle, or upcycle an empty glass jar. Mason jars make for excellent candle containers, as do decorative tins. World travelers can even save a food jar from another country for a nice memento. Another idea: Scour flea markets, antique shops, and local garage sales for a mug, cup, or ceramic bowl that catches your eye.

Once you have a container you like, make sure it’s heat safe (i.e. won’t melt or crack) when it becomes a candle. To check, fill your container with boiling water and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, carefully pour out the hot water and immediately fill it with cold water. If the container cracks or shows signs of damage, opt for another vessel. If it passes the test, make sure your container is completely clean and free of any food or debris.

3. Melt your wax

Microwavable wax is available, but melting wax on your stovetop is an easy and common option. 

Photo: Mint Images/Getty Images

Measure your soy wax flakes and add them to your double boiler. What’s the right amount of wax? Double the volume of your vessel is a good rule of thumb since the flakes will melt down. So simply use your vessel as your measuring cup and fill it twice. Place your candy thermometer in the wax and turn the heat to high. Once the temperature reaches 185 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s time to add your fragrance.

4. Position your wick

Stick you wick to the bottom of the container. 

Photo: Mint Images/Getty Images

While your wax melts, get your container ready. You’ll want to secure your candle wick to the center bottom of the vessel. Wick stickers easily attach the metal end of the wick to the container, but if you don’t have any, you can always use a dab of melted wax as glue. Then, place a Popsicle stick or chopstick on either side of the wick and rest them on the top of the container. This will hold your wick up once you start pouring wax. Optional: For a more secure wick holder, you can drill a hole through the center of a Popsicle stick and thread the wick through that.

5. Add fragrance oil

Once you hit 185, add your fragrance oil and stir with a spatula. Then, turn off the burner and let your wax cool to 135 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. Pour the wax

Slowly pour the wax into your prepared vessel. 

Photo: dikushin/Getty Images

If you’re anxiously awaiting for your wax temperature to drop, you can speed up the process by carefully pulling your inner pan out of the water and drying it off with a paper towel. Place it on a trivet away from the heat source so it can continue cooling.

Next, it’s time to pour your wax. Do so slowly and steadily in the middle of the candle container.

7. Let your wax set

Burn and enjoy! 

Photo: Mint Images/Getty Images

After about three hours, it’s safe to trim your wick. Remove your Popsicle sticks and cut the wick with either scissors or a wick trimmer, leaving about a 1/4 of an inch. To be safe, let your candle fully cure for at least 24 hours before moving it. After that, it’s time to grab a match, light your new creation, and fill your home with cozy vibes.

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