Candlemaking 101: it’s easier than you might think!

candles cooling Despite all my home, bath & body “craftiness”, for years I put off candle making because I remembered my childhood forays into the hobby, which resulted in ruined pots, crayons melted all over the kitchen, and lots of paraffin mess. Recently, I discovered that making candles, particularly with soy wax, is remarkably easy. First of all, soy wax is washable with soap and water. Yeah! So the clean up is insanely easy. You can harden it a bit by melting in some stearic acid, but generally, I find that soy wax, when used in containers (rather than using molds), seems to do just fine. 

What you need:

Pour Pot
Saucepan to use as a double boiler w/ the pour pot
1 oz essential oil or essential oil blend
1.5 lb. soy candle wax
tabbed wicks (with metal bottom)
soap/candle thermometer
wooden stick for stirring
scale
Containers such as thick, heat proof glass, aluminum tins, tea cups, ceramic containers, etc

The steps are the same for any kind of container. If you want to experiment with different waxes or even try molds, you can go to any number of good blogs & candle-making sites, including those who sell supplies. Candlewic, for example, is a local company right up in Quakertown, Bucks County.

candle wax Step 1: Measure out 1.5 lbs of wax into your pour pot using a reliable scale.  Scales are available on candle, soaping, and cosmetic sites. Even a postal scale would work since your measurements do not have to be too finite.

double boiler with candle pour pot Step 2: Place the pour pot in a saucepan filled 1/3 of the way with water and bring water to a boil. Stir the wax with a wooden stick/ chopstick until the wax melts completely.  The melting point of soy wax is generally 125 degrees.  The final temp of fully melted wax may be upwards of 160-180 degrees.

measuring melted candle wax Step 3: When wax is melted, measure the temperature of the wax with the thermometer. You will need the melted wax to cool a bit before you reach the best pour temp range of 110 – 140 degrees.

pouring essential oil into melted candle wax Step 4: Once the pour temp is reached, add the 1 oz of essential oil. It is best to use essential oils rather than fragrance oils because most fragrance oils contain pthalates, which should be avoided.  Additionally, because fragrance oils are synthetic, they can cause headaches for many people. Once you are around pure essential oils more and more, you’ll find you can tolerate synthetic fragrances less and less (that would be me!). When you use a pure essential oil, you are also getting the ‘true’ botanical volatile oil in a highly concentrated form, and therefore, you will also get its aromatherapeutic benefit whenever you use the candle. Some ideas for essential oils to use include eucalyptus-mint (stimulating, clarifying, awakening), Lavender (calming, relaxing, soothing, Sweet Orange (uplifting, comforting), Cedarwood-sage (grounding, purifying, cleansing), or any other essential oil you happen to love.

pouring candle wax into containers Step 5: Stir the essential oil into the wax and then pour wax into the containers.  I have come across recommendations to heat the containers first with a hair dryer and my assumption is that this may prevent cracking in case the wax is far hotter than the container can handle. I have never had a problem with this, though, and usually skip this step, particularly with aluminum tins.

putting wick into candleStep 6: Once all the wax is poured, quickly insert the tabbed wick into the center.

candles cooling Step 7: Allow candles to cool for several hours and then trim the wicks and feel free to use!

I hope you enjoy!

Supplies:
Candlewic (candle supplies, including containers, wicks, wax, and colorant, if desired)
Essential Wholesale (essential oils)
Specialty Bottle (glass candle containers)

Sarah Powell is proprietor of Lilith’s Apothecary, a natural bath, body, and tea business and also blogs at www.lilithsapothecary.wordpress.com