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How to Make Candles: A Step By Step Guide to a Fragrant Home

Have you ever wondered about how to make candles? Let’s be honest, there’s no better way to set the mood and cozy up than with the comforting combo of the warm glow and natural aromas you get when you light a candle.

How To Make Candles

Homemade candles are the best for that! In fact, once you start making your own candles, you will never go back to store-bought candles!

So, why make your own candles at home?

  • They are endlessly customizable – color and scent them how you want.
  • Cheaper than store-bought candles!
  • They make lovely gifts – and you can tailor their scent to fit the person you’re giving them to.
  • Channel your inner boss and create a lucrative scented candle business.
  • Playing with melted wax never stops being fun.
  • Makes your home smell great and feel cozy.

Best of all? Making candles at home is remarkably easy. So, whatever your reason to start with DIY candles, let’s get down to business – starting from the basics right down to some awesome homemade candle recipes by the end of this guide. 

Candle Making Supplies – What Do You Need?

DIY Candles

Making candles at home today is as simple as it was in the 19th century. But first, you need your candle-making supplies. Don’t worry; you most likely won’t need to buy anything other than the ingredients!

Here’s a checklist of every item for your candle-making kit:

  • Cooking supplies: You’ll only need a few common kitchen supplies – double boiler, heatproof container, thermometer, and spatula. If there’s no double boiler, you can use a saucepan and a larger cooking pot to use as a double boiler. But be sure to use cooking tools that you don’t plan to use to cook food anymore because they will be coated in wax. 
  • Molds or Containers: What type of candle do you want to make? For pillar candles, you’ll need molds. Silicone candle molds come in plenty of designs and shapes. Now, if you want to make container candles, you can use glass jars, metal tins, or any heatproof container. Also, consider using recycled candle containers or empty glass jars you have in the kitchen.
  • Wax: Candle wax come in a great variety: paraffin, soy wax/soy wax flakes, beeswax/beeswax sheets, and coconut wax. But whatever type of wax you use, always get a good-quality one so your DIY candle burns cleanly and slowly.
  • Candlewick supplies: pre-waxed candle wicks are the best as they burn better. You’ll also need hot glue to attach the bottom of the wick if you’re making container candles.
  • Optional candle colorants and scents. Colorants and oils are optional but great if you want to customize your homemade candles.

And don’t forget to have a roll of paper towels on hand. You’re going to need it for clean-up. Because while candle-making is simple, it can get messy. 

The Candle Making Process Explained

Homemade Candles

Once you have your tools and candle-making supplies on hand, you can jump right to the best part – making scented candles! 

Follow this step-by-step tutorial on making candles at home.

Step 1: Prepare Your Ingredients, Tools, and Container

Start by preparing your workspace, somewhere clean, flat-surfaces, and spacious. You don’t want to knock on things while handling hot, melted wax. 

And before you start melting your wax, make sure you have your candle-making tools and ingredients handy. If you haven’t washed your candle container, this is the time to do it. Then leave it to dry while you prepare your workspace. 

Step 2: Calculate How Much Wax and Wick You Need

Calculating how much wax you need is simple. Get your candle jar and fill it with water up to where you prefer the candle surface to start. For every fluid ounce of water, you need an ounce of hot wax. 

Another method (by volume) is to fill your candle container with wax flakes to where you want the candle surface to start. Then you’ll need to double that volume to fill each candle.

Put a marker on the candle jar once you’ve set where you want the candle surface to start. You’ll need that to measure your wicks – it should be ¼ inch above the wax line. Don’t forget to secure your candle wick at the bottom before you proceed to the next step. You won’t likely have the time to do this once you’re read to pour wax.

Step 3: Melt Your Wax

Melting Wax for Candles

Once you have the correct measurement of the candle wax, melt them in the double boiler over medium heat. If you don’t have a double boiler, put a heatproof bowl on top of a saucepan filled with water and use the bowl to melt your wax. 

Don’t forget to stir the melted wax with a spatula until completely melted. 

The great thing about candle making is that any remaining wax you have can simply be re-melted and turned into another candle.

Step 4: Add Fragrance and Coloring, If You Like

Adding fragrance is optional, but if you’re making colored and scented candles, this is the time to add fragrances and colorants. Then slowly stir the mixture to incorporate well. 

As a general rule, you’re going to need an ounce of oil for every pound of wax. But adjust based on your preference. 

Step 5: Pour the Wax into the Container

Pouring Melted Candle Wax

If you have a candy thermometer, you can be certain of when it is time to pour the wax. It should be about 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Now, carefully pour the wax into your container or mold. Remember to pour the wax slowly to avoid getting air bubbles in your candle. And don’t forget to keep your wick balanced upright. It should be at the very center of your candle once the wax hardens. 

The last part – waiting time! The wax hardens over 24 hours. Only then will your scented candle will be ready to burn. 

Choosing The Right Wax Materials

How To Make Candle Wax

The wax is going to be the fuel of your candle, but what type of wax should you get?

Although old-school candles are made of paraffin wax, which is also the more popular wax used for candles, it’s not your only option. There are a variety of wax materials you can use at home. What you use depends entirely on your preference.

Here’s a closer look at the different waxes and their pros and cons. 

Paraffin Wax Candles

How To Make Paraffin Wax Candles

If you’re starting out this crafting journey on a very limited budget, paraffine wax is the most inexpensive option for you. The lower price is also the reason why paraffin is widely used across many candle brands. But that’s not its only advantage – paraffin wax also holds color and fragrance very well. It’s a good option if you’re making scented and colorful candles.

However, it is not the most eco-friendly wax material for candles. Another downside is that it will create soot when not properly cared for, which can be a huge drawback. 

Soy Wax Candles

How To Make Soy Candles

Soy candles are the mid-range option– affordable and slow to burn. Sox wax is a by-product of soybeans. Soy wax flakes have their oil extracted and hydrogenated to make the wax used in candles. It’s an eco-friendlier alternative to paraffin wax at a slight additional cost. So, soy candles would be great if you are interested in being earth-friendly.

The downside is that this wax material can be very temperamental. It can shrink or develop frosty white spots when stored in less-than-ideal temperatures. Because of this, soy is better used to create container rather than pillar candles.

And compared to paraffin, soy candles don’t hold much fragrance. So, if you’re making scented candles, you’re likely to need to add more fragrance than you would when making paraffin candles. 

Beeswax Candles

How To Make Beeswax Candles

Like paraffin, beeswax is another popular and one of the oldest wax materials used to make candles. But since it’s a by-product from the honey-making process of the bees, it’s an eco-friendlier version compared to paraffin. And unlike soy wax candles, beeswax is harder and can create more solid candles, suitable for making pillar candles of any shape.

Another advantage of using beeswax for candles is their natural but faint honey scent that serves as an air purifier. It can help eliminate mold, dust, and unpleasant odor in the air. Beeswax also has the lowest toxicity from any candle-making materials, burns slower, and drips less than others.

The only drawback to beeswax is the price. Beeswax can be pricey compared to the cheap paraffin and the affordable soy wax candles.

Coconut Wax Candles

How To Make Coconut Wax Candles

Coconut wax, made from cold-pressed coconut meat or oil mixed with soy wax, is a colorless and odorless wax material. Like beeswax and soy candles, it’s also eco-friendly and will not produce as much soot when burned. It’s also a great option for making colorful candles because of its naturally bright and white color. Coconut wax also handles fragrance pretty well, suitable for aromatherapy candles. 

Unfortunately, like beeswax, it has a higher cost per pound since its production is more expensive compared to other plant-based waxes, like soy. Coconut wax also has a low melting point, which means those living in warmer climates need to keep the wax cool. Hence, they are better to use for container candles than pillar candles.

Choosing the Right Wick

Homemade Candle Wick

Much like with your wax choice, it’s also important to choose the correct type of wick for your DIY candles. Otherwise, your candle could burn improperly. Choosing the best wick depends on two things – what type of wax you’re using and the kind of candles you want to make.

You have four options in choosing your wicks:

  • Flat-braided/knitted wicks: Flat wicks are the most commonly used wicks, often found in pillar candles. They are very consistent in their burning. Cotton wicks are the oldest and most common material. And the other option is hemp wicks, which burn slightly warmer than cotton. They work great coupled with natural waxes like soy wax and coconut wax.
  • Square-braided wicks: This type can also be made of cotton and sometimes hemp but is more rounded than the flat wick. It’s the preferred type of wick for beeswax candles. 
  • Cored wicks: Cored wicks can be either knitted or braided but has a core material to keep them straight and upright while burning. Different core materials will vary in their stiffness. Paper core wicks are less rigid and a good option for natural waxes. Meanwhile, zinc core wicks are excellent in keeping the flame upwards but more suitable for paraffin.
  • Wooden wicks: The most rigid out of all wicks, but they also burn the fastest. Wooden wicks can be either softwood or hardwood. But if you want that cozy crackling flame, go for softwood wicks. They also work fine with most wax materials.

Do You Need to Use Multiple Wicks?

Multi Wick Candles

In many cases, you don’t have to use more than one wick. But if your candle containers are over four inches in diameter, it would be helpful to use multiple wicks. The other option is to upgrade the size of the wick you’re using. 

You can use this guide:

  • 4-inch candles – use 2 wicks
  • 5-inch candles – use 3 wicks
  • 6-inch candles – use 4 wicks

Now, if you are using multiple wicks in your candles, be sure to space them out evenly. Otherwise, you might end up with un-melted wax around the edges or corners. 

Scenting Candles: Fragrance Oils vs. Essential Oils

How To Make Candles Smell Good

What good would a candle be if it doesn’t smell divine? But what kind of scent oil should you use to make scented candles at home?

The debate whether to use fragrance oil or essential oil for candles is still going on. 

  • Fragrance Oils: They carry a stronger scent per unit. So, a single drop of fragrance oil will smell more intense than a drop of essential oil. If you want to work with a strongly concentrated scent, fragrance oil is the best option. Fragrance oils are also cheaper the less expensive option.
  • Essential Oil: Now, 100% pure and natural essential oils are your best bet if you want healthier alternatives. They are safer and healthier, ideal for making aromatherapy candles. But remember that you won’t get the same intensity as when using fragrance oils, so you’re likely going to use more of this oil type to get the same scent strength. 

Related Reading: Best Essential Oil Diffusers

Understanding Fragrance and Scent Throw

Making Scented Candles

Creating your own scents out of essential oils is an art and science! Although it’s not as difficult as you might think. Blending oils comes down to mastering these three categories:

  • Top Notes: It will give you the first impression – the scent you smell on the first whiff. Top not scents are usually lighter, cleaner, and fresher.

Favorite top notes essential oils: Lemon, Lime, Orange, Peppermint, Grapefruit, Cinnamon

  • Middle Notes: They will be the heart or the body of your scent blend. Once the top note scent dissipates, the mid notes come in. They tend to be full-bodied, warm, and soft. 

Favorite middle notes essential oils: Lavender, Chamomile, Black Pepper, Juniper Berry

  • Base Notes: They are the foundation of scent blends for candles, and they last the longest time. Usually, you pick the base notes first and build and blend based on them. They are mostly rich and heavy, adding depth to your scent blend.

Favorite base notes essential oils: Sandalwood, Patchouli, Frankincense, Cedarwood, Vanilla

Other oil options:

  • Basil, Bergamot, Eucalyptus, Lemongrass (can be both top and middle notes)
  • Cinnamon, Neroli (can be a top, middle, base notes)

5 Essential Oil Scented Candles Recipes to Try

How To Make Candles With Essential Oils

Ready to make scented candles? Take a look at some of the simple, make-at-home recipes below. Remember any remaining wax you have can always be re-used in your next project.

1. Tropical Scented Candle

  • ½ teaspoon lime oil
  • ½ teaspoon spearmint oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon oil

Combine this oil blend with four ounces of soy wax. It will make scented soy wax candles that will bring your senses to somewhere tropical with a refreshing fruity cocktail in your hand. The tropical scent is perfect during a wind-down, spa-like day to end a busy week.

2. Refreshing Herb Scented Candle

  • 1/8 teaspoon thyme oil
  • ½ teaspoon hyssop oil
  • ½ teaspoon basil oil
  • ¾ teaspoon lavender oil

This oil blend is another perfect combo for a 4-ounce natural wax candle. It’s the same refreshing aroma, but this one feels herby instead of lemony. Why not light it while you relax and unwind, probably in the bathtub. 

3. Holiday Scented Candle

DIY Holiday Scented Candles

  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon clove oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg oil
  • ¾ cinnamon oil

This scented candle will bring you right back to the holidays for when you feel like every day should be a holiday season! Light it to make your cozy bedroom even cozier, and don’t forget to get a mug of your favorite holiday drink to complete the vibe.

This oil blend works very well for making 4-ounce beeswax candles at home.

5. Rugged Scented Candle for Men

  • ¼ teaspoon sandalwood oil
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom oil
  • ¼ teaspoon cedarwood oil
  • ½ teaspoon patchouli oil
  • ¾ teaspoon bergamot oil

This scented blend is for men but also for anybody who likes a western gentlemanly-like aroma – sunny, slightly sweet and spicy, and pleasantly citrus. It makes for a fantastic, uplifting pick-me-up fragrance to bring you some feelings of joy and optimism.

Looking for other uses for essential oils? Try making DIY beard oil.

Ready to Make Scented Candles at Home?

With these easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions on how to make candles, your choice of wax material, essential oils, and cooking tools you already have, you can start DIY candles today! 

You can follow the recipes above. Or better yet, unleash your creativity. Mix and match your preferred essential oils to create new scents. Are you a fan of paraffin or soy candles? Which oils did you go for? We’d love to know.

And if you have a go-to scented candle recipe for any mood or occasion, don’t hesitate to share it in the comments below.