Pillar candles are a very popular type of candles. They are candles meant to stand alone without support of containers or holders. They throw off scent well and their surfaces can even come in various designs. Nowadays that more people opt for DIY projects, you can make your own pillar candles too. And it is neither difficult nor expensive.
Unlike candles made in containers, pillar candles are made in special molds. These molds are made of different types of materials and are in various shapes. The most common type of molds you will find is the metal one. There are also molds of plastic, silicon, polycarbonate etc. Some people also opt for DIY molds such as soft drinks cans etc. All these work well, especially metal, though you will find more varieties with silicon.
Since pillar candles are made to be free standing, you cannot just use any type of wax to make them. Generally, soft waxes like soy wax and gel wax are not suitable. Only hard ones like paraffin wax and palm wax (if you want a natural option) can provide the firmness needed for the candles to stand. The major downside with them, as opposed to container candles, is that they drip onto surfaces and can create a mess. But do not worry, it is not a big deal. The materials you will need for making pillar candles are listed below.
The Materials to Make Pillar Candles
Choose only the hard types. Also, if you want to add fragrance, consider the scent throw of the wax you are going to choose.
Decide if you will go for metal, silicon, polycarbonate or plastic mold and go buy it. Check the craft stores around or go online. Metal mold is the best choice for a beginner. Silicon molds are more suitable for advanced users. If you want to use homemade ones such as a soft drink can, prepare beforehand. Cut off the top of the can and make a wick hole through the bottom. But make sure the hole is correctly centred.
The wick is mentioned after mold because it is the mold you use that will determine the size of wick you use. Measure the diameter of your mold and choose your wick accordingly. In terms of length, just make sure it is longer than your desired mold.
These are fragrance oils, dyes etc. and they are optional. If you want to use them anyway, buy the appropriate ones for your wax. For colour, only use candle dyes
Candle making can get messy so get your cleaning materials close by. You would only need paper towels or old rags.
These other materials are important too and serve a specific function. A mold sealer will keep your wick in place at the bottom and prevent wax from leaking out while a wick stabiliser will keep the wick straight especially when pouring in the wax. You would also need a thermometer to measure the temperature of the wax.
The temperature of the wax is important as it determines when to add fragrance, when to turn off the heat and even when to pour the wax in the mold. A double boiler and a stove are also important for melting the wax. A pair of scissors are needed too, for trimming the wick.
How to Make Pillar Candles
When your materials are ready, then it is time to move into the actual process of making the candle.
Melt your wax for some minutes using a double boiler. As the wax melts, you can save time by passing your wick through the mold. If the frayed ends of the wick make this difficult, you can stick the end in the molten wax and roll into a sharp point with your fingers. That should make it easy. Your wick should pass through the mold and come right out the bottom.
After this, spread some mold sealer around the bottom of the mold. This is to prevent any wax from escaping when poured in. Mold sealers can be reused, so use as much as possible. Some people prefer to use glue for this. After this, use a wick stabiliser or an old pen to keep the wick centred and straight. Let the pen sit across the top of the mold and gently wrap your wick around it.
If you want to use additives (colours, fragrance), do so while the wax melts. Making use of your thermometer, add fragrance when the temperature is between 180-185°F. Stir gently after doing this so that it mixes well with the wax.
When the wax completely melts, turn off the heat. By this time, it should be liquid and transparent. Leave the wax to cool till about 130°F. Then you pour the wax into the mold. Make sure that the wick is straight and centred as you do this. Pour in your wax steadily and leave a few inches at the top. Keep some wax aside for later.
Naturally, the candle will shrink as the wax solidifies. One way to remedy this is to make a couple of holes at various points on the candle. Such holes are known as ‘relief holes’. By doing so, you are avoiding problems like having the wick off-centre or having the outer walls of the candle deformed. Then re-melt the excess wax you have kept behind and pour into the holes. Do not fill beyond the level of the first filling or you would create more problems.
Let the candle cool completely. This would take a couple of hours. Remove the mold sealer or glue at the bottom before you remove the candle from the mold. The candle should slide out of the mold if cooled completely. If it does not, simply place it in a fridge for about ten minutes and try removing it again. Trim the wick on both sides (top and bottom) with a pair of scissors. The top end should be trimmed to about a quarter of an inch. After this, clean up and then your candle is ready for use.
As you have seen, the processes are pretty easy to follow. However, be careful when making use of pillar candles. Monitor them as they burn and do not keep flammable materials around them. Doing so would be dangerous if the flame goes wild or the candle gets knocked over. Apart from this, you are good to go!