Candle Making Guide: Free Project Instructions & Tutorials
Whether you’re interested in making your own candles or crafting with ready-made ones, this is the project sheet for you! In the first section you’ll find nearly 20 different projects and ideas for crafting with them (some working with melted wax, others with ready made). Next you’ll find a collection of candle making tutorials (including a slow cooker method, milk carton project and a gel tutorial). Plenty of creative and gift-worthy ideas in this bunch, I’ll be adding more goodies to this page as I find them. Enjoy!
Festive Floating: A few simple items are all that’s needed for this charmer: a mason jar, greenery, cranberries, water and a floating candle.
Vintage Glassware: Fill glasses, goblets and even jars with melted wax, candle scent and dye (optional) and a tabbed wick.
Travel Tins: Repurpose candy or mint tins by making these gift-worthy candles (cover with decorative paper, Mod Podge and fill with soy wax).
Bird Bath: Use assorted ramekins and ceramic pieces to make these charming candles, you’ll need wax, wicks and spray paint for this project.
Wine Bottle Centerpieces: Learn how to remove the bottom of wine bottles so they can be used to cover candles, these make an impressive display when lit.
Cutout Letters: Easy craft made with sheets of beeswax, letter-shaped cookie cutters and cotton candlewick.
DIY Dipped: Plain candles are dipped in melted wax made from bits of crayons.
Cinnamon Stick Pillars: Cinnamon sticks are cut to size then glued around a plain pillar candle (using a hot glue gun).
Orange Peel: Filled with melted beeswax, the peel can be removed when it’s no longer fresh.
Mason Jars: Step-by-step instructions with lots of pictures and also shows how to make a stamped fabric lid covers for gift giving.
Stamped Tissue Transfers: White tissue paper is stamped with design of choice then applied to candles with a few basic supplies.
Basket Weave: Beeswax sheets are cut into strips then woven and applied to a pillar candle (using a hair dryer).
Recycling: Scrape out the wax from old candles that are too low to use then melt and pour into glass jars, votives and other containers. Dye and scent can be added if you wish.
Rolled Beeswax: These are probably the easiest candles to make, a length of wicking is placed on one edge of a sheet of beeswax, pressed into the wax then rolled evenly across the sheet.
Milk Carton Project
*First published December 19, 2008 and moved to this page for better organization
I haven’t seen these or made one in years…here’s an easy to make candle that’s an old crafty favorite. I clipped this from a 1960s magazine so it’s been around for at least a few decades…
- All you do is take any size easy-opening milk carton, and drink up the milk, eggnog or fruit juice that’s in it.
- Then put a regular table candle in the center, fill with crushed ice and pour hot sealing wax until full. (The plastic coating will prevent sticking.)
- When it’s cool, cut back the carton and pull out the finished candle.
- For extra color, decorate with rosettes or holly leaves.
- Now all you do is light the wick, and have a happy holiday!
Source: Family Circle Magazine, 1960
DIY Gel Version
*First published September 25, 2007 and moved to this page for better organization
Try making a small batch or two of these to get the swing of things, then setup an assembly line to whip up several at once.
Liquid Dye for Gel Wax (optional)
Gel Safe Fragrance Oil (optional)
Zinc Core Wick (pre-tabbed)
Glass container to hold candle
Large Pyrex Measuring Cup
Metal Spoon (for stirring)
Hot Glue & Glue Gun
- Melt Wax: Cut cubes of gel wax and put in large Pyrex measuring cup or dish and place in a 225° preheated oven. Melt the wax (this will take about an hour–depending on amount of wax). Remove from oven and stir wax to check for lumps–the wax should be fully liquefied. Measure the temperature with the candy thermometer, the melted wax should be at 225° (don’t allow the gel to heat over 230°).
- Glass Container Prep: While wax is melting, wash and dry your chosen glass candle container. Make sure it is completely dry before pouring hot wax in the glass. Affix the candle wick to the bottom of the glass with a dab of hot glue. When the glue is dry, tape the top of the wick to a pencil and rest the pencil across the top of the glass container–making sure the wick is standing straight up and is centered. Do this ahead of time so that the glue has a chance to fully set–don’t use too much glue though because this could cloud the gel wax.
- Add Color (optional): Dip a toothpick in the dye then swirl it around the melted wax. Start slowly and keep adding color until you reach the desired hue. If you realize that you’ve added too much dye, just pop in some more wax to melt and the color will get diluted.
Important: At this point the wax should not be cooler than 200 degrees. If it is, set the dish in the oven again to raise the temperature.
- Add Fragrance (optional): The last step before pouring the wax is to add fragrance oil. Mix it well (but slowly) to distribute the oil–you don’t want fragrance oil pockets in the finished candle since these can burst into flame. Try a 1/2 ounce of fragrance oil per pound as a guideline–a high density gel wax can handle up to 1 ounce per pound.
Important: At this point, the wax should not be lower than 185°. If it is, set the dish back in the oven to raise the temperature.
- Pouring: Set the chosen candle container level on the workspace and slowly pour the melted gel wax into the glass candle holder (pour along the side). Leave about 1/2″ from the top of the glass rim. Once you’re done pouring straighten the wick and roll it up with the pencil so it’s taught and centered.
- Finishing: After pouring allow the candle to fully set before moving. Once the candle has completely set, remove the top of the wick from the pencil and trim the wick to 1/4″.
- It takes experience to make gel candles without some bubbles, but to minimize them make sure the gel wax is at least 185° before pouring and make sure to pour slowly.
- You could also try pre-heating the glass candle containers in the oven on very low heat (do this when mixing the fragrance and color–just turn the oven off when you remove the wax and place the glass holders inside until you need them). The heated glass helps prevent bubbles.
Layers of Color:
- If you love the look of gel candles with multi-colored layers, you can accomplish this by pouring your first color of gel wax in the candle container and let it completely set. Then add your next color layer, and allow it to fully set. Repeat the process for each layer of color you desire.
Embedded Items (Optional):
- Gel candles can be very pretty with just a wick and gel, especially in colored glass containers. For more decoration you can add all sorts of embeds like glass marbles or other non-flammable objects. Don’t be tempted: never embed anything that is flammable in your gel wax. Potpourri would be lovely in a gel candle, but the torch of fire it will cause won’t be.
- Add embedded items after pouring the wax–first dip them in melted wax (helps remove air bubbles) and position them inside the glass candle holder (you can use long, clean stainless steel tweezers). Keep them close to the sides of the glass, they are more visible this way. Keep them positioned at least 1″ away from the wick.
- The process for using embeds is just like layering wax colors: Pour wax then add embedded items and allow to fully set. Pour another layer of hot wax, add more objects and allow to set. Repeat as desired.
- You want to be sure that the embedded items don’t overwhelm the glass holder and that there is plenty of room left for the gel wax (needed to keep the flame burning).
Embedded Object Ideas:
- Marbles, crystals, gem stones, coins, metal charms, miniature glass trinkets, sea shells, glass beads
Fragrance & Dye Tips:
- Make sure you are using gel candle safe fragrance oil. It should be non-polar with a flashpoint of 170° or higher.
- Adding too much fragrance oil can cause the finished candle to spark when it is lit. If a finished candle sparks when lit, do not continue to use it. Melt it down and add more gel wax.
- Only use fragrance oils and dyes that are made for use in gel candles.
Tips For Choosing A Glass Container:
- Choose a candle holder that is at least 2″ in diameter so that the heat generated from the flame and pool of melted wax is more distributed and the flame isn’t too close to the glass.
- Look for glass items at thrift stores and garage sales, you’ll find a bonanza of pretty glass that is perfect to use and the cost is just pennies. Choose clear or colored glass, both are pretty when lit.
- Ideas: Wine glasses, vases, votives, rose bowls, vintage candy bowls, mason jars, jam jars, juice glasses. Reminder–be sure that the glass is thick enough that it won’t shatter from the heat.
- If you have extra wax, allow it to cool and store it in a ziploc bag. It can be re-melted and used in your next candle making project! If you don’t want to save it, just toss the cooled wax in the garbage. Do not pour or flush hot wax down the drain.
- Spray the dishes and utensils used with windex to remove the oil residue then scrub in hot soapy water.
- Do not leave the wax unattended when melting the wax.
- Do not have small children in the room when making candles. One bump could mean a serious burn for you or your child.
- When choosing containers, use glass thick enough to bear the heat from the melted wax as it’s poured or while the candle is burning. Glass that is too thin can shatter or explode. Do not use plastic or flammable containers.
- Do not burn the candle all the way down to the bottom of the holder, this can cause super hot glass that may shatter or explode from the heat.
- Do not leave a burning candle attended. Falling asleep in the same room with a candle burning does not mean it’s attended.