I can think of few things that make a home more cozy, comfortable and pleasant than candles. I always have some burning in the evening and I love the seasonal scents. They also make great gifts for family, friends and kids’ teachers. The problem is they are usually really expensive. I love Yankee Candles but can’t afford them. The few I’ve had and cherished were gifts.
But great news! You don’t need to buy great candles.. because you can make them on your own!!
And I have some expert tips for you on how to do it from someone who not only does it all the time, but she’s also building a fabulous business doing it.
My friend Bernadette owns Baubles & Beeswax, Handcrafted Products For Bath, Body & Home. She makes and sells lots of great products like candles, soaps, body butter and other bath products.
I was excited to pick her brain about candle making specifically because it’s such a great idea around the holiday season for gift giving. So here is a step-by-step guide and some of her expert tips that come from trial & error and some blood, sweat & tears. Let her experience get you off on the right foot.
How To Get Started
1. Start With A Kit
It’s best for beginners to start with a kit. You can get some great kits from Amazon for about $40 that come with instructions, containers, wax, wicks, fragrances, color dyes, pouring pot and thermometer. With that size kit you can usually make about 10-12 candles.
2. Watch Other People Do It
YouTube videos are also extremely helpful to get started, to see how it’s done before jumping in to do it yourself. Click here for one that helped Bernadette a lot.
3. Get A Scale
This is helpful if you plan to make candles regularly. But for your first batch, if you don’t know if you will make more, it is possible to get away without a scale. More on that later.
How To Make Candles
Expert Tip: Start with a clean and protected area. Putting down some sort of paper will protect your home and make cleanup a breeze.
1- Weigh or measure the wax in the pouring pot. You’ll need double the wax that you ultimately want in the candle. For example, start with 20 ounces of wax to make a 10 ounce candle.
Use a scale if you have one. If not, fill the candle container you plan to use with wax shavings to measure how much it holds, then use double that amount.
Expert Tip: Start by making one candle at a time until you get the hang of the process.
2- Place the pouring pot into a large kitchen pot with boiling water to melt the wax to between 180 and 200 degrees. At this temperature it should look clear & glossy.
Then remove from heat and let the wax cool slightly.
Expert Tips: If you don’t have a pouring pot in your kit, you can use a double boiler. But be sure to use a special pot just for this purpose. You can’t use candle fragrance in a pot that you use to cook food.
Use low heat only. And never walk away from melting wax!
3- Add color dye.
Check to see if there is a ‘flash point’ indicated on the color dye. If there is, add the color dye only after the wax cools to below that temperature.
If no flash point is indicated, add the color dye after the wax cools to at least 130 degrees. If you add the color dye when the wax is too hot it will burn off.
Expert Tip: After you add the color dye, put a drop of the wax on a white piece of paper and let it dry completely to test the final color. From there, you may want to add a little more color dye.
4- Add fragrance.
This also needs to be done at the flash point indicated on the fragrance, or if there isn’t one, at 130 degrees.
You should use 1 oz. of fragrance oils per pound of wax.
Expert Tip: Fragrance oils can sometimes discolor wax so be sure to stir well and check the color of the wax once it’s added, in the same way you tested it after adding the color dye.
You may want to get fragrances without the chemical phthalates. This is in fact one reason that Bernadette started making her own candles, which was the genesis of her business. Candles with phthalate fragrances gave her a headache so she set out to make her own.
5- Prep your candle container.
Affix the wick to the bottom of the container. (Wicks usually come with a sticker on the bottom for this purpose.)
Hold the top of the wick in place so it won’t move around when you pour in the wax. Your kit likely comes with things called ‘bow tie clips’ like the ones in this photo.
If necessary, you could also use a variety of things for this depending on what you have around.. a clothes pin, a plastic straw with a slash or hole in the middle, two pencils, chopsticks, etc.
6- Once the wax has cooled to 110 degrees and starts to look a little cloudy, pour it into your container.
Expert Tip: If you pour the wax while it’s too hot it will look frosty on top.
7- Let the candle sit for 4-8 hours or until the next day. Then trim the wick to a quarter of an inch above the wax.
Expert Tip: The size of the wick is important. It needs to be wide enough to melt a large area in the center of your candle. If the wick is too small, it will only melt a small area, creating a tunnel of sorts through the middle of your candle.
8 – Let the finished candle sit for another day or two before using or gifting it.
Building A Business
For those of you who might want to launch your own business or just get really, really good at making candles, here’s a few more tips.
1. Build On Your Skills And Make It Your Own
Bernadette started off with the Amazon kit, but also did lots of research and refined the steps to make her own process.
2. Seek Out Support
A really cool thing Bernadette tapped into was a supportive community of makers and wholesalers on Facebook. She says they were always eager to lend advice and answer questions. It’s a big reason she was able to transform her love and adventure of candle making into a successful small business.