With the days getting shorter, one of my favorite ways to relax on dark evenings is to light some candles. And it’s even better if those candles are homemade!
Over the years as I’ve tried to remove chemicals and toxins from my food and home environment, I’ve become more aware of the concerns about the chemicals in paraffin candles (particularly those with heavy fragrance). Since paraffin is a petroleum by-product, one of the biggest concerns is the toxic fumes they produce. Combine this with the fact that most of us don’t regularly open our windows during the colder months and it means we’re sitting around in toxic air. Eek!
Soy and beeswax candles are much healthier alternatives to paraffin, however, I’m also realistic that buying good-quality soy or beeswax candles can get really expensive if you use candles regularly.
The solution: make your own! With just a few supplies and about 30 minutes, you can easily make your own soy candles from scratch. Plus, these make amazing gifts!!
How to Make Soy Candles:
First, we’ll need some supplies. Depending on what you have available already (e.g. thermometer, old glass jars), the investment cost can be pretty minimal, especially compared to the return. (I spent around $25 total and was able to make six large (6 – 12 oz) candles. The retail cost of these would have easily been between $12 – 20 per candle so I think the investment is definitely worth it!)
- Soy wax
- Candle wicks: I like using the candle wicks with the metal bottom attached that come pre-coated with wax (just make sure your package includes the sticky tabs or you purchase separately), but you could also purchase just the cotton wick.
- Container to melt & pour wax: I used an old pyrex measuring cup and you could use any container available, or purchase a specific candle pitcher.
- Thermometer: I used a simple candy thermometer, but you could also purchase a candle thermometer.
- Containers for the candles: mason jars, tins, and cleaned glass jars from previous candles all work well:
- Essential oils: I made most of mine unscented, but I really liked adding some lavender essential oil to a few of them. Use 15 – 30 drops per cup of unmelted wax (depending on how strong you want the scent).
- Chopsticks or skewers: These are handy for securing the wick in place (see pictures below).
Once you have your supplies, we’re ready to go!
Melt the Wax
Soy wax typically comes in flakes that are easy to melt in a glass microwave-safe container or in a double-boiler on the stovetop. You’ll want to melt the wax until it’s liquid (around 150 – 170 degrees F), but be careful not to heat it higher than 200 degrees or it could start to burn. If you decide to go with the microwave option, keep a close eye and heat it in 1-minute intervals, temping as necessary.
The wax will decrease by half in volume once it’s melted so 1 cup of wax flakes = half cup of melted wax. Let the wax cool until it’s reached 125 degrees F, then mix in any essential oils you want to use.
Prep the Containers
Add the sticky tab to the bottom of the container, then adhere the metal tab. If you’re using the waxed wicks, it should stand up straight at this point.
Pour the Wax
Once the wax has cooled to 125 degrees F, it’s ready to be poured into the containers.
(Note: if you think that you can skip the waiting and rush to pour the wax in before it’s reached this point, you will be mistaken. I learned this lesson the hard way on my first candle because the heat will dissolve the sticky tab holding the wick in place and then it will be a pain to keep it secured and centered. Lesson learned.)
Secure the Wick
Once you’ve poured the wax in, it can be a bit hard to keep the wick centered and secured in place. I carefully wrapped the wick around a chopstick to keep it in place until the wax cooled.
Trim the Wick
Once the candle has cooled completely (I let mine sit for 12 hours), trim the wick to 1/4 inch and it’s ready to go!
- If the tops of your candles have any cracks or dents, you can easily fix these by using a hair dryer to lightly melt just the top area so the candle will look smooth.
- If the wax of your candle has pulled away from the container, it could be because the container was too cold. I had washed my containers in warm water just before using them so they were slightly warmer than room temp and I didn’t have any issues with this, but I think it’s helpful to know for making candles in wintertime.
- As mentioned above, don’t pour the wax in until it has cooled or it will dissolve the sticky tab and your wick will float around. Since I did this to myself once, the best method I found was to use a chopstick to hold the wick in place for about 10 minutes until the wax cooled enough to keep it there, then pour more wax in to fill in the hole from the chopstick.
Have you made soy candles before? What are your favorite tips? Leave a comment below!2