Pillar candles are fun and easy to make! Plus, there are so many ways you can customize them with dried flowers, ribbons or even by engraving them. Of course, they are beautiful as just plain pillars if that is your preference. Candles – especially handmade candles – make great gifts, especially for Valentine’s Day. You can give the candles an enticing scent – adds a touch of romance to a gift basket, or even just gift the candle alone as a thoughtful, homemade gift!
(A) The first step is to collect all the items you need:
- Paraffin wax (I chose paraffin wax for this candle, but there are other wax options – soy, palm and beeswax come to mind)
- Essential oil (I used a custom blended essential oil for the scent. You could use a fragrance oil if you preferred)
- Melting pot
- Candle mold
- Wick sustainers
- Bamboo skewers
- Mold Sealer
- Heat-resistant gloves
- Masking tape
(B) Begin by using a heavy duty kitchen knife to cut up the wax. As you can see in the middle photo above, the wax does not cut into nice, even chunks, but that is ok. Place several of the chunks into the bottom of the melting pot. This is a special candle making pot I bought at my local craft supply store. A metal pan works just as well but make sure you only use it for melting candle wax.
(C) Place the pot, with the wax inside of it, in a pot of water. I typically start my water heating while I am cutting the wax up. You can follow my lead or wait until the pot filled with wax is in the water. The pot typically tilts instead of standing up straight. I stay in the kitchen and keep an eye on it. I also make sure I do not add so much wax that it begins to seep out of the pot.
(A) While the wax is melting, cut the wicking and prepare the candle mold. I like to cut my wicking a little longer than necessary. I measure the length from the top to the bottom of the candle mold, then add about half of the amount more. For example, if my mold was six inches tall, I would add three more inches and cut my wicking so I had nine inches of wicking to work with.
Pass the wick (make sure you buy the right size wicking for your mold) through the hole in the bottom of the candle mold. It is easier to push it in from the bottom of the mold and then pull it to the top of the mold. If you experience difficulty getting the wicking through the mold, dip the end in some hot wax, let the wax cool slightly and then use your gloved hands to form a nice pointed end.
An alternative method, if you do not have gloves, is to try trimming the end of the wick so it is not frayed. My mold has a place where I can tie the wick off – and I prefer doing this. It adds a little extra security to the wick for the molding process and when I am done, I am cutting it all off anyway.
(B) Once the wick is in place, seal the wick hole with mold sealer made specifically for candles. This product is very similar to clay and can be found in the candle crafting section of your local craft store. Using this product helps prevent the possibility of wax leakage around the wick hole. Don’t skimp on using this mold sealer – cover the entire wick hole and a bit of the bottom of the mold.
(A) Place two pieces of masking tape crossways over the top of the mold sealer. This helps secure it in place.
(B) Turn the candle mold over, slide the wick into the wick sustainer. The flat part faces the bottom of the mold. Slide the wick sustainer down the wick and press it against the bottom of the mold. Tie the wick snuggly to a bamboo skewer. I use a single knot so I can easily adjust it if need be.
(A) Tape both sides of the bamboo skewer to the sides of the candle mold. Lay the excess wick across the top of the bamboo skewer, making sure the wick is not sagging in the mold and tape it in place at the end. This keeps the wick and skewer secure while the wax is being poured and the candle is hardening.
(B) Continue to add more wax as the first round of wax melts. Be sure you have enough wax to fill your mold. Extra wax is ok. I’ll tell you at the end how to utilize that.
(C) Once the wax is completely melted, add the coloring. The wax I use comes pre-measured. All I do is drop it into the melted wax and let it dissolve. This makes it really easy. Once the coloring is dissolved, remove the pot with the wax from the pan of water and set it aside. The key is to let it cool slightly, but not so much that it begins to harden. An average time estimate is five to ten minutes.
Now, it is time to add the fragrance. I added one teaspoon of a custom essential oil blend. I like to smell the candle but I do not like the scent to be overpowering. The amount of fragrance you add is up to you. If you prefer an unscented candle, skip this step.
(A) Now the wax is ready to pour into the mold. Pour it slowly into the mold. Do not fill the mold to the top for pillar candles or votives. This is the first filling.
(B) Filled the mold as high as you want it to be. This is your final height but again, leave some room in the mold – set it aside until it begins to firm up on top. Typically, this takes a couple of hours to firm.
Set the unused wax aside for now. You will need later once the candle cools.(A) Once the top of the candle begins to sit and looks firm, use a bamboo skewer to create relief holes. These holes accommodate the natural shrinkage that occurs as the wax hardens.
(B) Position the holes evenly around the wick going to a depth of one inch less than the candle itself. The creation of these holes helps prevent potential problems such as air cavities in the candles, deformed outer walls of the candles and wicks that end up off-center.
Once this is done, sit the candle aside and allow it to cool completely. Typically this is overnight.
Once the candle is cooled, reheat the unused wax. Allow it to remain in the pot and the pot to remain in the hot water for a five minutes or so after the wax is melted. This allows the wax to retain more heat. This is important because in order for the new wax to bond with the old wax, it needs to slightly melt the new wax.
Pour the melted wax into the candle, slowly. Do not pour the wax any higher than what the candle currently is.
Set the candle aside and allow it to harden overnight.
(A) Bonus tip! The excess wax leftover can be melted down and poured into metal mini-cupcake tins. Once dry, these make great candle tarts. Expect to have some shrinkage and have to top off the wax tarts just like the candles.
(B) The next day, remove the masking tape, mold tape and cut away the visible wicking on the bottom of the candle mold. Then cut the wicking away from the bamboo skewer on the top of the mold, remove the bamboo skewer, lay the mold on its side and very gently tug on the wick remaining in the candle.
If the candle does not move, put the mold into the refrigerator for 15 minutes. This cools the candle even more and now it should easily slide out of the mold.
I put these – once they are dry – into small plastic condiment containers with lids. They make great gifts and store very well. I have lots of other great crafts to share with you, so let me know how this candle making DIY tutorial worked out for you! Good luck!
Sheri Ann Richerson is a leading pioneer in the self-sufficiency movement. For the past 19 years she has been living, teaching, and promoting organic gardening, natural health and self-sufficiency through all forms of media. Her career includes years as a nationally acclaimed best-selling author, radio host and guest on a variety of shows – showcasing her expertise on homesteading and gardening.
She has been featured in The New York Times, Woman’s World Magazine and Ladies’ Home Journal. Ms. Richerson’s best-selling books include:
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Year-Round Gardening a #1 best seller.
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Seed Saving & Starting a #1 best seller.
- Flower Gardening: A Collection Of Articles By Sheri Ann Richerson a #1 best seller.
Sheri lives in Marion, Indiana. For more information, please visit her writing website atSheriAnnRicherson.com, her gardening and homesteading website at experimentalhomesteader.com or subscribe to the Experimental Homesteader podcasts on iTunes.
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