How To Make Candles In 8 Steps
If you have been wondering how candles are made, then you've come to the right place. We are going to walk you how we make our soy wax candles. There are 8 steps...don't let that scare you, we'll walk you through it.
1 Select Your Wax
First up, you need to choose what wax you are going to use. We use soy wax instead of paraffin wax, as it is environmentally friendly, non-toxic and have a long-lasting clean burn which protects your lungs and saves you money. For more reasons, do read our earlier blog on what to look for when buying candles.
2 Select Your Vessel
There are two main vessels that people use, glass or tin. You might be wondering about the difference between the two and that is a good question!
Tin has two distinct advantages. It helps the scent waft into the air more, because the metal warms more quickly than glass (metal being a better heat conductor as you'll remember from your school science classes). Secondly, it is great for travel, so you can pack it in your suitcase without worrying about it breaking. Glass obviously being a tad delicate and we've all broken glass when travelling.
A glass, of course, offers the advantage of transparency, where you can better visualise your candle from more angles. So some argue it gives a better experience in the moment.
There is no right or wrong answer, you have to pick what makes sense for you.
Whatever vessel you choose, you'll need to stick wicks down to the base beforehand, with what are called "sticktums" or use a glue gun. There are a number of things to choose from in a wick.
3 Choose Your Wick(s)
You’d think wicks is an easy subject but you also have to be careful of what candle wicks are made from. Some wicks have additives such as zinc and lead in what is called metal core wicks. These are mainly found in the US, China and Taiwan, where the metal core is used to help keep the wick upright during burning.
We use two types of wicks. One is CDN, which is made from cotton and has a paper fibre core. The other is wood wicks, made from - you guessed it, wood! This wood is from fruit trees sourced from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified mills in the USA.
Between you and me, our favourite is our triple wood wick candles! It crackles and transports you to Aspen or Zermatt in the winter. Goes well with a hot chocolate.
You also need to consider the diameter and size of the candle before you can choose a type of wick as you don't want your candle to under or overburn.
Overburn leads to the smoking of the wick, bigger flame and blackened hot jar which are all dangerous. Underburn leads to tunnelling of the candle; eventually, the tunnel will grow so deep that it'll be tough to light the wick at all. More importantly, all that unmelted wax on the sides represents hours of lovely fragrance and burn time you bought but won't ever get to utilize.
4 Heat The Wax
Next step is to heat the wax. This is done on a stove in a vessel which is steeped in boiling water or you can even use a wax heater so you don't burn the wax. You'll know you're on the right track when it is all melted. Soy wax melts at 175-180 degrees Fahrenheit (around 80 degrees Celsius).
5 Mix Your Fragrances (scents)
Lots of candle supply shops have fragrances for sale. Now, believe it or not, this is the most critical step! If you pour your fragrances when the wax is too hot, your fragrances will actually evaporate prematurely and you'll be left with candles that have poor scents. Many websites will recommend you pour at different temperatures - you will need a thermometer! - but the higher temperature you pour, the less your fragrances will come through because they will have partially evaporated. It is the most delicate act of candle making and it is why we are not disclosing exactly what temperate we mix our fragrances at, other than to say most YouTube/ websites recommend around 180 celsius.
Fragrances are not straightforward. In our earlier blog, we talked about the complexity of fragrances and how they are defined by the top, middle and base notes. They all come will different mixing instructions, which can range from 6-10% of the wax amount, so do read the instructions with whatever you buy before you mix and always TEST. Each fragrance reacts differently with wax.
6 Pour - when this is done, this completes the core of how to make candles
Once you've poured your fragrances into the wax and mixed it, it is time to pour! Make sure that the container is at room temperature or slightly warmer. The wax should be poured into the container while it is 120 - 165 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce cracking and speed up the cure time of the wax.
As you'll see from our picture with this blog, we put a few flower petals sometimes in our vessel before we pour, so it is embedded.
7 Let Wax Cool
You'll need to wait a good 2 hours before the wax cools before you do anything else. If you decide that's it, you need to wait a minimum of 2 days before you light it. Some say you need to cure it for 5-7 days so it binds properly. Whatever you choose, make sure you did not pour the wax over the wick, we'd recommend a good 1/4 inch wick.
8 Embelish and decorate
You've made your candles but this is the time to really decorate your candle! We usually use a range of additions such as shells, dried botanicals, fairy dust and crystals, depending on the intention of the candle. We use a hot air gun to melt the top layer of wax to infuse these with the wax.
Just one note that was left out, usually people wait 2 weeks for a candle to "cure." This is so the fragrance binds with the wax better.
And....that's about it! Once you understand how to make candles, you can give it a go yourself!