Saturday, February 2, 2013

Making Candles

Stacked Heart Candles

So today is the day every year that I make candles for sure. I do it here and there throughout the year but the first day of Spring this is my little tradition. Making candles at home isn't very hard but it may seem a little daunting at first. It doesn't even have to be very expensive. It's all about what you want to do. 

You can go down to your local craft store and buy wax or you can even recycle old candles. If you have some old candles in jars put them in the freezer, over night at least (though I forget them in there and come back a month later). Carefully, patiently work the wax out of there. I've heard of glass shattering so you might want to do this gloved. I've never personally had it happen but most my containers are normally thicker glass.
Now I'd like to relay the story of today before I continue. I had gotten a bunch of wax donated to me by asking around on a free site if anyone had any old candles they wanted to get rid of (if you don't know of any free sites try looking for a freecycle in your area). A very nice lady had a whole trash bag of them for me. One of bits of wax was a babyfood jar filled completely! Well since it was filled completely the freezer method wouldn't work so I tried slowly heating it in water just below lid level. This would have all been well and good but I tried to hurry the process by carving it out a bit. Well after a while I put too much pressure and the bottom was melted and it came spraying out! Thank goodness my body reacted by closing my eyes before I could even comprehend what was happening and thank goodness I had the wax on low heat so the wax itself wasn't hot enough to burn me but I was completely covered in wax! My eyes were sealed shut, it got all in my hair too! The lesson of this is don't rush things and be smarter than I was! I've been making candles for several years now and this is the worst accident that I have ever had and it was a wake up call that anything done improperly can be dangerous. 

The wax donated minus the babyfood jar of wax.

Now cleaning candles is pretty easy. lightly wash off any dust, cobwebs, what have you and it doesn't need to be perfect and I'll tell you why. The particles are normally heavier than the wax itself so much of it will go to the bottom of your melting pan. Sometimes if you have a lot of gunk you'll have to use something to try and capture it. I normally use a wooden spoon or something.
Now you can have a big pitcher like you see to the side but you can also just use a can. Mine is a Hunt's Spaghetti Sauce can. The object here is to build a poor mans double boiler. You use a pot under with water and a pot inside to melt in. You'll notice the spoon I have under the can that's because of the rim on the can the water under it will evaporate, you'll get a nasty ring on your pan and things just don't go well just make sure when you remove the spoon that your hand is gloved! Otherwise you run the risk of getting burned. 

So it's simple you melt it and then if you want to use it for later you can pour it out into a dish. Once it's hardened a bit but not completely. It should still be warm to the touch. You can take a knife and just cut through it, let it dry the rest of the way and break it apart. There you go little manageable bits you can melt down as needed. 

There you have it! Cleaning and prepping wax. Now for pouring wax you use cans or the pot in the double boiler like set up like before. I suppose it would be easier to explain with pictures I may have a part 2 to this if the kids are good tomorrow since most of my day was spent cleaning wax. 

I did make some stacked candles during the process though and it was my first attempt. 

I cut out hearts from a tray of wax after the wax had start to harden but not completely with a cookie cutter sprayed with vegetable cooking oil (suggest only using metal cookie cutters I'm not sure how plastic ones would react). I stacked my hearts and used a skewer stick so that I could put a hole for my wick straight through and it all be in the same location. 
For my wick I took bulk wick, dipped it in wax, ran my fingers over it to get off the excess wax and repeated this process 3 times and then let it dry hanging and straightened it so I could feed it through. I took bulk ends and using needle nose pliers I attached the end to the wick. Now I've read a few suggestions on how to adhear the different levels together I couldn't quite get it to work right so mine are loose but I'm still very happy about it and don't plan to be picking them up a lot so it's fine with me. 

Now for the different colors I did two trays. One white and one red. For the red I used red old crayons. They work pretty well though if you see your colors not blending well you might need to look into a product called vybar which is good for making sure that color and scent evenly go through the wax and helps especially if you are doing molded candles. It is pretty expensive in my book so I don't use it often. Because I was using the O'Charley's crayons though I did end up using vybar. Crayola crayons seem to be the best but I just use what is on hand.

I would not doubt if I'm being a little confusing or skipping over some parts so just let me know and I'll be sure to answer any questions to the best of my ability or try and point you in the right direction.


  1. I'm curious if the pans you use are ONLY for the candle making? I tried melting crayons in muffin tins for a homemade fire starter project a few years ago and it ruined the muffin tins. Wondering if I did something wrong or should have just planned on that? I like your heart candles!

    1. As far as melting the candles yes the can and my big pot are dedicated to it but it never fails that during the course of things a bit of wax will get into a pot and then you get this odd film on things. My best suggestion is 1. If you can use pots that you don't mind taking steel wool that helps. Also, getting to the pot before it is completely cool. 2. For molded items (like molded candles, shaped crayons, etc) I suggest spraying your pan down with oil. This will help prevent things sticking to the pan allowing for easier clean up and for the molds itself to release. The same idea goes for if you cut out wax with cookie cutters you'll want them to be sprayed down.
      When possible I try to dedicate or make a liner for things just to be on the safe side.
      If you do like I suggest in this and line a pan with wax paper your wax will come up but don't be surprised if you get a waxy film on the paper too! My pans are pretty old and I always line them with foil to cook with so I'm not worried about it but if you are then you might want to line the pans with something like foil instead.
      I hope that helps a little.