Making homemade candles is a centuries old craft that is easier to do now more than ever before. We have access to high quality materials, dye colors, unique molds–you name it–and much of it is pretty inexpensive too!
I’ve put together a tip sheet filled with a variety of different techniques you can try (for beeswax, soy and recycled wax).
These are all beginner friendly projects and mainly deal with filling jars and other suitable vessels with hot wax and cotton wicks. I’ve also included a few crafty and decorative techniques for ready-made candles.
If you want to venture into a more serious, bulk production of tea lights and votives, I highly recommend you purchase silicone molds that will enable you to whip up a dozen at a time. The silicone will hold up to repeated use and the product pops out effortlessly. I bought mine years ago from someone who makes them but you can easily find them on Etsy.
I also recommend buying blocks of beeswax locally if possible because the cost savings are substantial (no shipping & handling). Be picky, I tested and poked around until I found a beautiful golden hue (rather than a darker, more brown tone). The color can vary depending on how well the product is filtered and what the bees are feeding on.
Contacting local honey farms are a good bet along with checking out the farmer’s market. I had good luck finding a couple sources with online local classified ads as well.
The chunks I get are rough, by the pound and I melt them down then pour into a 12-cup silicone muffin pan. Once the rounds are cool, I pop them out and pack in a box in between layers of white tissue paper until ready to use. This isn’t a necessary step but I find it’s tidier for long term storage (I buy a year’s worth at a time).
Tips For Choosing Glass Vessels:
- Select a 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 treasures at thrift stores and garage sales, you’ll find a bonanza of pretty items that are perfect to use and the cost is just pennies. Choose clear or colored glass, both are pretty when lit.
- Ideas: Vases, votives, rose bowls, vintage candy bowls, mason jars, jam jars, juice tumblers. Reminder–be sure that the walls are thick enough that it won’t shatter from the heat (especially during the pouring process).
Milk Carton Project
First up is a quick set of instructions for DIY Milk Carton candles from an old article I clipped way back in the day (it’s from the 1960’s). These were a commonplace craft when I was growing up. The instructions indicate “hot sealing wax” (aka paraffin) but any sort will do the trick (including melted crayons).
- 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 block.
- 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
How To Make Candles (From Scratch)
As always here on Tipnut, all projects included in this list are 100% hassle-free, meaning there are no fees charged, no emails to submit and no membership signups required to access full instructions. I focus on text & image format tutorials but there may be additional support provided by video. If that has changed since being added to this page, please let me know in the comments area below so I can remove it.
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A good general guide for using pellets, she recommends adding a bit of coconut oil to help with a consistent burn & avoid tunneling (optional). Includes some troubleshooting tips (sinking in the middle; cracking issues; adding essential oils for scent).
I absolutely love this! I received one as a gift many years ago & every time I lit it, I was reminded of the dear friend who gave it to me. Can be made with soy, paraffin or beeswax. Adding scent & color is optional.
Retro Goblets & Glassware
A fun DIY to upcycle garage sale finds that you can pick up for a quarter a piece, just ensure the glass is thick enough it won’t shatter with the heat when lit.
Tinted Soy (Poured Mason Jars)
A nicely done tutorial with lots of images, includes instructions for cleaning the pouring pot & creating custom stamped Thank You labels.
After melted wax is poured into vessel of choice, a layer of fine glitter is added so that it disperses over the surface & gives a foiled effect.
DIY Cookie-Cutter Shapes
Cookie cutters are transformed into molds by first wrapping the back & sides with aluminum foil. Make sure they are lying flat & then fill with melted wax. Tint & scent as desired. Especially lovely for Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day…any holiday with a theme that you want to embrace.
Another Cookie Cutter Technique
This method has you pressing metal cookie cutters down (over parchment paper) while you slowly pour into the molds. As long as the temperature is not too hot, it should work like a charm.
Bars of beeswax are melted (1/2 pound for each) then poured into jars first prepped with wick tabs. These smell lovely as-is but fragrance can be added if desired (with essential oils).
Free “Recycled” Technique
Leftover bits from old candles are scraped & melted into a fresh batch of wax, a bit of dye added for color then repoured into jars to make brand new goodies ready to be lit.
A great DIY using empty candy or mint tins (Altoids, etc.), cover with decorative paper (using Classic Mod Podge) & fill with microwavable soy wax & a prewaxed medium bleached candlewick with wick clip.
Empty votives are arranged in the crockpot, filled with microwaveable soy wax then allowed to “cook” on high heat for a couple hours (checking periodically to top up with more as needed). Essential oil is added at the end for scent then the lid is removed to allow the votives to cool & solidify.
Floating Oil & Water
Vessels are filled with glass beads, shells, etc., topped up with water then a generous layer of essential oils are added which will float on the surface. A wick is added then lit.
A quick tutorial showing the old-school method of dipping tapers. Another article explains the method here (dipping one at a time): how to make tapered dinner candles in 12 easy steps (stylist.co.uk).
Striped & Rolled
Here’s how to combine two (or more) colors of honeycomb beeswax sheets to create a striped effect.
Basic Rolled Beeswax
These are probably the easiest, least fuss-iest type to make & there’s usually a nice array of colored sheets available to choose from.
Ways To Decorate Candles
How To Paint
This is an especially nice way to make a Paschal Candle for the family’s Easter basket. You just need a bit of rubbing alcohol (or surgical spirit) to prepare the surface & some water-based, non-toxic acrylic paints. Free hand or stencil the design–your choice.
Floating Holiday Charmer
A few simple items are all that’s needed for this DIY: a mason jar, greenery, cranberries, water and a tea light. Uses ready-made votives but perfectly lovely for festive table decor.
Frosty Epsom Salt DIY
Dollar store pillars are transformed with a bit of paint, glue, painter’s tape & Epsom salt. Advises that these are for decorative use only & not to be lit.
Decoupaged & Glitter
A single sheet of paper napkin is applied with a very thin layer of Mod Podge (Matte Medium). Another layer of medium is brushed over top & then sprinkled with diamond dust to give it a glittery sheen.
Another Transfer Technique
Adhere images from napkins, tissues & photos (photo copy prints) with this easy method using a warm clothes iron, curling iron, heat gun or hair dryer.
Custom Stamped Tissue Transfers
White tissue paper is stamped with design of choice then applied to the surface using a few basic supplies (rubber stamp, ink pad, embossing powder, embossing gun, etc.).
A simple craft that can be used on both pillars and tapers, the surface is first prepared with a generous layer of adhesive spray then rolled in loose glitter.
Decoupage (Spoon Technique)
This is another paper napkin project but this time it’s applied to the surface using a metal spoon that is repeatedly warmed over a tea light as you work.
Decoupaged (with Hair Dryer)
So pretty! Paper napkins are carefully peeled & separated (so you’re working with only one layer) then heat applied to surface using a hair dryer. If done properly, these should be safe to burn.
- If you didn’t use as much wax as expected, empty into a small cardboard milk carton or a silicone mold, allow it to cool then pop out & store in a ziploc bag. This can be re-melted and used next time.
- Do not dump or flush hot wax down the drain.
- Gently heat utensils, wipe off as much residue as you can with paper towels then finish by scrubbing in hot soapy water.
- Do not leave stove unattended during the melting process, beeswax is very flammable.
- Do not have small children in the room during the process, severe burns can occur with just one small bump.
- When choosing vessels, use glass thick enough to bear the heat from pouring or while the wick has been lit. Glass that is too thin can shatter or explode. Do not use plastic or flammable materials.
- When enjoying a lit votive, do not let it burn all the way down to the bottom as this can cause over heated glass to explode or cause heat damage to wood surfaces.
- Do not leave active flames unattended and watch carefully around cats and other pets.