In planning for my wedding, I decided that I wanted to make all of the candles for the reception myself – with a ‘signature scent’ for my own celebration of marriage. I had never made candles before, but I knew I could figure it out. I set out to learn how to make them on the cheap, and the easiest way possible.
I did quite a bit of research and had a lot of trial and error before I came up with the best way to make a boatload of candles without spending a lot. I developed an easy (lazy) method of microwave candle-making, and now I have a tub of 40 partially-burned candles from my wedding reception in my basement that will take me ages to burn through! I wasn’t keen on spending a ton on professional-type candle-making equipment, so I was able to come up with some used and abused household objects that could function as equipment.
I shouldn’t have to explain that hot wax is really freaking hot, but I will. Make sure that you have the time and space to make these carefully. It will burn you if you touch or spill it, and it’s super messy to clean up after spilled, so work slowly, and you’ll be ok with this method.
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- Soy Wax flakes (for jars). Buy it HERE from Amazon.
- Your choice of container for the candle. You can use mason jars, old candle jars, metal containers, etc.
- Essential or Fragrance Oils: I have used both kinds, so it depends on what you can find, and what scent you would like. For my wedding, I found a fragrance oil called Love Spell…. do you remember the Victoria’s Secret Love Spell scent? Well I still love that scent, so I ordered it from Amazon- and here is the link to buy it.
- Hot glue gun
- Wicks – Buy them here from Amazon.
- A microwave-safe container with a spout/ pourer. This needs to be something you are not going to use in the kitchen for food again. I use an old glass measuring cup that was donated by my mother-in-law.
- Candy thermometer. Again, this will be a candlemaking-only device after using it. Buy it here from Amazon.
- Wax dye – not necessary, but if you prefer the candle to be anything other than white, you’ll need this. Buy it here from Amazon.
- Tongue-depressors, popcicle sticks, chopsticks, or pencils to hold the wicks in place to dry. Any of these will work. Purchasing wick-holders (like the professionals use) is really not necessary.
- Something to stir with that you wouldn’t mind ruining. I use a wisk from a broken mixer that died a long time ago. It works perfectly, and the wax cleans off of it nicely.
- Lots of towels and napkins. It can get messy.
- Warning labels – if you plan to gift, sell, or give your candles away, you need to C.Y.A. (cover your @ss) and stick on a label warning people basically that fire burns things and to be smart. You can find these pre-made right here on Amazon, or just use your PC skills and print some of your own.
- Firstly, put something down on your workspace to cover the area for protection. I use aluminum foil. This way, I can be messy, and then just roll it up and throw it away after. You’ll thank me later for this!
- Fill your microwave-safe container with soy flakes. Fill to the top.
- Pop it in the microwave. For this 1-quart container, I start with 5 minutes. If your container is smaller, reduce that time.
- After 5 minutes, it’s real hot! Use a towel to remove it from the microwave.
- The amount of wax has reduced greatly, as you can see. Stir what you’ve got, then add more wax flakes to the hot wax, again, filling to the top. Stir everything up, then pop it back into the microwave to melt. I put this one in for another 3 minutes, and the result was just about perfect.
- After stirring, use the candy thermometer to measure the temperature of the wax. Your goal temperature will depend on what kind of fragrance you use. If you are using essential oils (it will say this on the bottle), the target temperature to add in the oil is anywhere from 135˚-155˚F. If your preferred fragrance is not an essential oil, but listed (on the package) as a ‘fragrance oil’, then this is different. Your target temperature is much different: Usually about 185˚F. Your oils must adhere and mix with the wax. If it is too hot, then your oil will just evaporate away. If it is too cold, the oil will not effectively mix with the wax, and your candle will not throw any scent when burning. Put it back in the microwave if needed to reach your goal temp.
- Measure the wax to see if it is at the proper temperature. When ready, add your essential oils. You may use the 10% rule: add 10% oil to the wax ratio. This is a lot of oil, and the scent will be super strong (now). I’ve found that 6-8% usually works also. This may mean that you have to use the whole bottle, and that’s ok. Stir this for 2 minutes.
- If desired, now is also the time to add color to the wax. In this case I used a tiny bit of caramel color. But, this step is not necessary.
- Now, the wax is too hot to pour into the glass containers, so it has to cool further. Your target pouring temperature is 110˚-125˚F. Stir frequently while waiting for the wax to cool. You can step away at this time, but not for too long. Return to stir frequently, until the candy thermometer reads within your target zone. While waiting for the wax to cool, we can move on to the next step.
- Grab your preferred candle containers, and wipe them out, ensuring that there is no moisture or dust inside. Get the hot glue gun ready for action. Glue the wick to center of the container. You might need a pen or pencil to help guide it into place. While that cools, make a shallow warm bath in your sink.
- Since I’m recycling glass jars for my candles, I don’t trust the materials that they are comprised of. I’m going to partially submerge the jars into a bath to warm them up. This warms the container so that it is not shocked when the hot wax hits it, ensuring no cracks in the glass. Take care not to get any water inside of your jars.
- Pour wax slowly into your jar/container. If you pour too fast, your candle will have air bubbles and will crack (this happens a lot – it’s just appearance though, your candle will still work effectively if it bubbles) when it dries. This is where it is essential that your microwavable container has a spout! Fill to about ¼ inch below the top of the jar.
- Using popsicle sticks, chopsticks, pencils, or anything else that will work, guide the wick to the center of the jar to dry straight. Let your candle sit and dry. It will be 2 hours before you should even think of touching it, and 24 hours before you can burn it.
- When dry, trim the wick at just above the top of the jar. Leave enough wick to get a good flame on it.
Now you can get creative… Sometimes I add herbs to the hot wax after pouring. I don’t even know if it does anything to strengthen the scent, but I do it anyways. For my wedding reception candles, I wrapped each jar in black lace (my colors were champagne and black) using the hot glue gun. You also could add ribbon, paint, burlap, or flowers to decorate your candles in your wedding theme colors.
Happy crafting. Please let me know if you DIY’d your wedding candles (or are planning to do so).