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Candles have been around for a long time. The earliest candles served as a source of light. They were also (and are still) used in temples, synagogues etc. for religious purposes. With better alternatives to candles as a source of light, candles are now mostly used to decorate homes. Today, most people now opt for DIY alternatives to common materials used at home. Candles fall into this category. Homemade candles are easier to make and less costly. This article will guide you, carefully on how to make beautiful candles from the comfort of your home. I will quickly go over the candle making supplies that you need.
The wick is the part of the candle that holds the flame. Most wicks come braided and are made of cotton. The width of your wick depends on the size of your container. In terms of length, it should be longer than the container as it will most likely be trimmed later on. You can also make your own homemade candle wicks
Candle wax performs the dual role of holding the wick and also fuelling the flame. There are varieties of wax, with paraffin wax being the cheapest and most common. There are concerns in some quarters on paraffin’s toxic nature so many now opt for a relatively new alternative, soy wax, which is fast gaining popularity. It is a natural alternative to paraffin. There is also beeswax, which is the oldest of all but now less used. It is also the most expensive because of the effort it takes to get it. If you are the fun type, gel wax is for you, though, it is not very easy to work with. Paraffin wax does it for most people. Some also experiment by blending two types of wax together. One of such common blends is the paraffin-soy wax blend.
Containers and Molds
They are both used to give the candle its shape but are slightly different. Candles made using containers are meant to stay in the container and be used. Empty jars make good containers. On the other hand, candle molds are usually used to form candles that are meant to stand alone. Such are called pillar candles. Candle molds can be of metal (most common), plastic or silicon.
Other Candle Making Supplies
The three materials above are the basic candle making supplies you need and are the most important. In addition to those, you will need a heat source (such as a stove) and a double boiler to heat up your wax. A thermometer comes in handy too to measure the heat.
For decorating, you can get ready candle additives such as candle dye, candle fragrance oils, even flower petals etc. Get a paper or plastic cup or jar too with a digital scale mainly for measuring wax. A rubber spatula will be useful to stir your wax but a thermometer can substitute for this. Candle making can get very messy, so, keep your cleaning materials (paper towels etc.) close for use when the work is done.
Having gone over the materials needed, I will take you into the candle making process, step by step. Each stage is important. While candle making is not the hardest of projects, missing a step can really mess up your work. The two main types of candles are the container candles and the pillar candles, made using candle molds. The processes of making both types are similar and both are explained.
How to Make Container Candles
Make use of a flat surface such as a table. To avoid making it messy, cover the surface with old newspapers or paper towels. Make sure all your materials are ready at this point. When you are ready, measure your wax. You will need approximately double the amount it takes to fill your container.
Melting Candle Wax
Pour a little amount of water in the lower pan of your double boiler and pour your measured wax in the pan above. Turn up the heat and let it melt. This should not take more than 10 to 15 minutes. Use your spatula (or thermometer) to stir gently as it melts. It should be totally transparent when it melts and its temperature should be around 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Attaching the Wick to the Container
This can be done while waiting for the wax to melt. Most importantly, it needs to be done before pouring in the wax. You can use the wick stickers that come with the wicks (not all of them) or a little glue. A simple trick is to dip the wick into the melting wax and attach it quickly to the bottom of the container. Regardless of the method, make sure the wick sits well at the centre of the container. This is to make the candle burn well when it is being put to use.
Adding Candle Fragrance Oils
Make sure your wax melts completely before you add fragrance oils as you please. Your wax should come with specific instructions on the amount you should add per wax. So, follow them. This step is optional and only serves to make your candle smell nice. Pour the oil into the melted wax and stir gently for a few seconds. Note that whatever other decorative materials such as flower petals, colours (dyes) etc. that you want to use should be applied before stage five. For flower petals, they should be adhered to the container before pouring the wax.
Pouring the Wax into the Container
You should let your wax cool for a few minutes before pouring it in the container. Also, make sure you hold the wick well in place. It must be straight and should not be pulled. Then, steadily pour the wax into the container but don’t pour it all as you will need some later.
Securing the Candle Wick
You will want your wick to stay centered while the wax hardens. Use wick stabilizers to hold the wick in place. If you are using old pens (or short sticks), place the wick firmly in between two pens on top of the container. Leave the container in this position for some hours (four hours should be okay).
Putting Finishing Touches
It is likely you notice a small sinkhole in the middle of your wax. Don’t worry; it is normal. Just reheat the wax you have set aside (see stage five) and top off the space to get a smooth top and let it harden. You also need to trim the wick sticking out the top. It should be less than half an inch. If the candle flame is too high when lit, trim it again and your candle is ready for use.
Make sure you do not try to rinse the wax down the drain. Doing so may cause clogging in your pipes when it hardens. Use an old rag or a paper towel to carefully clean it up more easily.
How to Make Pillar Candles
Those are the stages of making container candles above. For making pillar candles using candle molds, there are only little differences. After getting all materials ready and making every other necessary preparation, go through the following stages, carefully. Molds can be made of metal, plastic or silicon. Metal candle molds are more common and together with plastic molds are the basic ones. Silicon candle molds offer more freedom but are advanced. In making homemade candles, most people should get by with metal or plastic candle molds.
Melt the wax (paraffin) using a double boiler. This should take a few minutes.
As the wax melts, stick your wick into the mold (metal mold in this case). You can use a needle to push the wick through the tiny hole on top the mold and out of the bottom. In doing this, leave a few inches extending out of the top. You can make use of glue to make sure the wick sticks to the bottom and so that no wax can escape. After this, hold your wick firmly in place using the same methods explained for the container candle making process above. Just like in making use of containers, your wick should be straight and centered.
When your wax is completely melted, use a thermometer to measure the temperature. When it’s a little bit cool, pour the wax in the mold steadily. Keep some excess wax aside in case you have a sinkhole and wait some hours while the candle hardens.
When your candle has completely cooled off, remove it gently from the mold. If you use a metal mold, this should not be difficult. Then trim the wick on both ends.
Dealing with a sinkhole is pretty much the same as have been mentioned earlier. Top up the candle with your excess wax. Reheat the wax before you do this. It should just be as little as is needed to create a smooth surface. At this stage, your candle is ready. Clean up your working surface and your materials.
With this guide, you should now find it easy to make candles on your own. When you have your supplies ready and you follow each process carefully, nothing should go wrong. The only potential problem is the little sinkholes and this has been addressed. I wish you good luck as you make your candles.