Candles are wonderful additions to any space. As fall and winter bring chilly, shorter daylight lengths, to our days the tiny flickering flame adds a natural cozy ambience to a any room, or a comforting feeling of warmth while you snip herbal tea while reading a good book.
Candles can be used as a way to diffuse your favorite essential oil scent, be lit to set the mood during a special dinner with your sweetie, or perform function should there be a blackout. In a previous post you will find several essential oil blend recipes that you might enjoy using to scent your candles.
While making candles is mostly just melt and pour, you can also get creative and formulate a blend of essential oils yourself to create a special scent.
Homemade candles are easy, fun, and affordable. Not only are they the perfect project for craft night with the kids or your women friends, candles also make the sweetest holiday or birthday gifts for just about anyone – so plan to make some extras to have on hand!
Things you will want to know before making your candles…
All of the supplies you will need to make your own beeswax candles, except for the wicks, can be found at my favorite herb shop, Starwest Botanicals.
Beeswax candles are a favorite among many folks for the naturally sweet, honey-like smell that beeswax produces when burned. It also burns slowly, which is something to take into consideration when purchasing wicks and containers. If using 100% beeswax (without fats like coconut oil, palm oil, or cocoa butter) it is necessary to either buy wicks that are one size larger than recommended or purchase high temperature wicks in the correct size range. I recommend a mix of roughly 75% beeswax to 25% coconut oil.
Beeswax alone will tend to cave in at the top as it solidifies, due to the outside wax cooling faster than the inside. Mixing the beeswax with coconut oil helps the candle solidify at a more even temperature and reduces the likelihood of center collapse, although it can still happen. For this reason, it’s good practice to leave space at the top of your jar, so you can cover up any caving in after the initial pour has cooled with a little more melted wax.
For those who prefer not to use beeswax, carnauba wax is an option. Carnauba wax is the hardest natural wax available. Because this wax is so hard and has such a high melting point, it is not a good idea to make a candle out of 100% carnauba wax. Instead, dilute the carnauba wax with coconut oil, the best solution is a 50/50 combination. This will lower the overall melting temperature, making it easier to get a nice looking – and well-burning – candle out of your hard work. Crafting with carnauba wax does require a bit of patience, with a melting temperature above 180 degrees. I recommend using a wick size up or high temperature wicks on all carnauba based candles.
Making Scented Candles with Organic Essential Oils:
From refreshing citrus or peppermint, to evergreen cheer and floral geranium, naturally scented candles are such a lovely way to incorporate aromatherapy into your space. If you’d like to use essential oils to scent your homemade candles, you’ll need to add more essential oil than you would for a typical body care recipe or even natural cleaning recipes. The amount you’ll want to use is similar to what you’d find in soap recipes, since much of the essential oil dissipates when mixed into the hot wax, roughly 200 drops of essential oil per 4 oz of wax is a good ratio for strong aromas like lavender. However, for lighter smelling essential oils, you can would add more essential oil.
Containers and Wicks:
You can use any container you like, but the size will determine the wick size. Clear Glass Salve Jars are a nice option for making beeswax candles, you can find them at Starwest Botanicals. A beeswax candle in a 1 oz glass salve jar will burn for about 4 to 5 hours.
I recommend buying your wicks in bulk through an online supplier, for the most cost effective and sustainable method. You can buy 25 yards at a time for under $10 through several e-retailers. You’ll need to use their catalog or sizing chart to find out which wick to use for your container size, since wick size is determined by the diameter of the container. If you are using 100% beeswax with no fat added (such as coconut oil), you’ll want to use either a High Temperature Wick or buy a size larger than recommended to ensure an even burn. If you are using carnauba wax, you’ll want to use a high temperature wick or buy a size up, even when mixing with coconut oil.
Note on Wicks: Buying the wrong size wick could result in an uneven burn that will create a pit down the center of your candle, rather than burning from the top down evenly, and burning ‘out’ before making it through all of your precious wax.
How To Make Aromatherapy Beeswax Candles
You Will Need:
- Metal pot with water
- Pyrex measuring cup that is able to hold twice the amount of wax you will need
- Candy thermometer (for watching flash points)
- Wick Clips (optional)
- Wick holders or chop sticks for centering your wicks
- Beeswax or Carnauba Wax
- Butter/Oil/Fat of choice (only necessary if you are using Carnauba Wax)
- Essential Oils (a total of 40-50 drops per 4oz. candle)
- Glass Containers (4 – 8 ounce sizes are commonly used)
Tip: You may want to rub the interior of your Pyrex measuring cup with Jojoba Oil before adding your beeswax, this will help make cleaning any beeswax residue clean up much easier.
Caution: The beeswax will be very hot, make sure to have everything lined up and ready before melting your wax and never leave it unattended, it doesn’t take long for the wax to melt.
Melting the wax…
In a double boiler, heat the wax/fat blend until melted together. Insert a candy thermometer in the center of the mixture. If you are working with an open flame, you do not want to heat your wax too close to the flash point. For beeswax this is 200 degrees F. This is the lowest flash point of most of the materials you will work with (coconut oil is near 350 degrees F). It’s important to look up flash points for materials you are working with if you are working with an open flame heat source!
Tip: You do not want your water to be a rolling boil as this will be too hot, use a nice soft gentle boil.
Positioning your wick…
Once melted, dip the bottom of the wick end into the melted wax (if you are not using wicks with Wick Clips) and place in the center of your container (only works for beeswax) and press into the bottom of the container. The beeswax will solidify and hold your wick in place.
This unfortunately does not work for carnauba wax. If you are using carnauba wax you can secure the wick end with a piece of tape, or pour a bottom layer of wax to cover the wick end and allow to cool while you hold the wick in place.
Next, suspend the wick in the middle of the container with a pencil or chopstick by wrapping the excess length of wick around a pencil/chopstick and balancing it horizontally across the jar opening.
Or, to hold your wick straight, simply use two chopsticks across the top of your container with the top of the wick between the two chopsticks.
Scenting your beeswax…
Add essential oils while the melted wax blend is still on the heat source, right before you pour into your candle containers. Do one quick stir after all essential oils have been added.
Refer to this blog post for some lovely essential oil recipe blends for scenting your candles.
Pouring the wax…
Pour wax into containers, leaving roughly ½ inch of room at the top.
Return the Pyrex measuring cup to the pot of heated water while your candles solidify.
Once your candles appear to be solid (this can take thirty to sixty minutes) you may notice that the wax in some have caved in slightly on the top. You can now top them off with the remaining wax, leaving ¼ inch of room at the top.
Once completely cooled (overnight is fine) remove wick holders and snip wicks to ½ inch above the top of the solidified wax.
Light and enjoy, or decorate the container to give as a thoughtful gift!
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