Candle Craft became my obsession when I saw some beautifully crafted candles and I learned very much to learn the Art of Candle making. Lack of facilities made me ordering a learner’s candle making kit online. The starter kit provided some basic materials and photocopied instructions on a bunch of papers (not much of a help). Gathering information from the internet and also watching many videos on YouTube, I Improved upon myself in candle craft. I have documented my experiments in candle making and this Instructable is the result of that.
Hope this instructable will be helpful to everyone who is interested in learning Candle Making Craft as a hobby.
Step 1: Candle Making Starter Kit
The candle making starter kit contained the following materials:
Three different kinds of waxes, two of them marked as ‘B’ and’ in small quantities. No mention of what they meant.
Three packets of white powders/crystals. The instructions mentioned that the one marked as “W” is wax whitener, “S” as wax shiner and the last one as a wax hardener.
Two silicone molds for making flower shaped candles.
Two packets of glitters, one golden and another silver colored.
Ten packets of different color powders.
One bundle of the wick.
A can of silicone spray, to be used as mold release with silicone molds
A packet of aluminum containers for tea-light candles.
Few pages of photocopied instructions on candle making with the starter kit.
Since I needed some equipment to start candle making, I bought a small milk cooker to act as a double boiler along with a ladle for melting and pouring wax. I have also bargained a seven-pack spice holder from the kitchen, which will act as a double boiler for mixing different colors with wax in small quantities. With this equipment and the material received with the starter kit, I ventured into the candle making process.
Experimented with tea-lights in aluminum containers, made some flower shaped candles with the silicone molds, used spice container to make few pillar candles and even went further with making candles using molds made out of card board containers.
To sum up all about the candle making kit with reference to the included instructions,
The wax received in bulk with the kit is Semi Refined Paraffin wax.
The wax marked as “B” is Microcrystalline wax.
The wax marked as “M” is a Fully Refined Paraffin wax.
The wax Whitener (W) will reduce the yellowness of the wax and make it more clear. It can be used for making white colored candles and added to the molten wax directly at the rate of 1 to 2 grams per 2 to 5 kilos of wax.
The wax shiner (S) is a white pigment which will add whiteness and shine to the candle. It is to be used as a paste mixed with coconut oil and added to the molten wax at the rate of 1 to 2 grams per 2 to 5 kilos of wax.
The white crystals mentioned as wax hardener are plastic granules with higher melting point. These granules are to be melted separately and added to the melted wax at the rate of 5 grams per kilo of wax. This will increase the hardness of the wax and its melting point.
The color powders are to be used as a paste mixed with coconut oil.
As my experiment with the starter kit is over, let us go deeper and discuss the equipment required, a different type of waxes, wick, colors, molds and mold releases. In addition, we will also explore how to make a different type of candles and finally will try out some fun projects in candle making.
And lastly, I have also added a Bonus at the end of this Instructable. Check it out…
Step 2: Basic Equipment
Basic equipment required to melt, mix and pour wax are:
A Double boiler: You can use old kitchen utensils also to make a Double Boiler. The outer vessel holds water and the inner vessel is used for melting the wax. The basic idea is the wax in the inner container is melted by means of heat transferred by boiling water in the outer container, which will never cross 100 Deg. C.
A Ladle: for mixing and transferring melted wax. You may find it very handy when working with a large quantity of wax to be melted and mixed with different colors.
Pouring Cans: For mixing colors and pouring wax into the molds. You can also use them for melting wax by placing them in water bath directly. You may need more pouring cans when working with different colors.
Hand Gloves: Molten wax is hot. So are the double boiler and the pouring cans. Use proper heat resistant hand gloves for your own safety when handling hot wax.
A Knife: Waxes come in the form of slabs and crystals. You need a knife to cut the required quantity of wax from the slabs.
A Thermometer to measure the wax temperature
A small weighing scale.
Pair of scissors to trim the wick.
Step 3: All About Wax
Paraffin wax is a byproduct from oil refining industries. The highest grade of refinement produces the fully-refined paraffin wax and contains very little oil and has a higher melting point. It comes in the form of slabs or as crystals.
Semi-refined paraffin wax has more oil and sticky to the touch. It has a low melting point so candles made with semi-refined paraffin wax burns away quickly. produces more soot. It won’t burn properly and most of the wax in a free standing candle will melt and flow down the candle. You can add semi-refined wax with fully refined paraffin wax at varying percentages based on the type of candle you are making,
Microcrystalline wax is also a byproduct of petroleum refining process and is darker in color. They are excellent materials to use when modifying the crystalline properties of paraffin wax. This is useful when some desired changes such as flexibility, higher melt point, and increased opacity are required in the candle.
Gel wax is a mix of oil and a polymer. It is transparent and behaves like gel, so you need a container to hold the wax. You can add perfume oil and liquid dye to the melted wax before pouring in the container. You can also add colored sand, sea shells with water and beads at the bottom of the container to make the gel candle more attractive.
Beeswax is a natural product obtained from honey bees The one in the picture is raw, collected from a honey-comb and needs to be melted and filtered before being used. it naturally has a sweet fragrance, so adding a little bit of Beeswax will emit an aroma while burning. Cleaned beeswax is available in blocks or in the form of little pellets which can be melted or in pre-rolled sheets, which does not require any melting at all and can be rolled into candles
Other types of wax:
There are other types of vegetable based waxes like Palm Wax and Soy wax is available in the market. These waxes have been developed as an alternative to oil based paraffin wax
we will be using mostly fully refined and semi refined paraffin waxes for all types of candle making other than Gel candle. Hereafter, I have referred Fully Refined Paraffin wax as FRP wax and Semi Refined Paraffin wax as SRP wax in this Instructable.
Step 4: Wick
wicks consist of braided cotton threads. The size of the wick influences the size of the flame. A thicker wick in a thin candle will melt down the wax faster and the wax will start flowing down, whereas a thinner wick in a thicker candle will drown in melted wax and will not burn properly. So select the correct size of wicks.
Pre-tabbed wicks of different sizes with a circular metal tab attached at the bottom are also available in the market. You can use these wicks in a container or teal-light candles. Zinc cored wicks are normally used with gel wax in a container.
Problems due to incorrect size of wicks
The flame is producing too much soot: Cause over-sized wick.
The candle is melting fast and melted wax is flowing down the side: Cause over-sized wick.
The candle is not burning properly: Cause under-sized wick
The wick is drowning in melted wax: Cause under-sized wick
Look at the picture of the burning candle. The wick is slightly bending down and allowing bottom of the wick to burn. This is the correct size of wick for that thickness of candle.
Step 5: Candle Colors, Pigments, and Dyes
Candle colors come in the form of either powder, Pigments, dye chips or in the form of liquid. There are two different types of color powders available in our place for candle making.
Fluorescent Colors: They can be added directly to the melted wax as required. Candles made with these colors have the tendency to transfer a little bit of color to the surface of the containers they are kept in, even on silicone molds used for casting.
Oil Soluble colors: These color powders are to be made into a paste by mixing them with oil. I have used coconut oil for mixing and stored the paste in separate plastic containers.
The liquid dyes can be added directly to the wax in the double boiler. Gel candles are made only with liquid dyes.
If you are having separate pouring cans for each color, you can directly add the colors to the melting wax. Otherwise, melt the wax in a larger double boiler, take out in required quantities in pouring cans and mix the colors.
Take care while adding colors. If you want a batch of candles with the same color, prepare the colored wax also in one batch. Even a small change in the quantity of color added will give a different look. To be certain that the color combination is correct, weigh the wax as well as the color.
You can also experiment with different color combinations by mixing two or three colors.
Step 6: Fragrance and Essential Oils in Candle Making
If you want to make perfumed candles, you can use synthetic fragrance specially made for candles. The synthetic fragrance comes in many flavors like fruits, flowers, and chocolate. You can add about 10 to 15 drops of fragrance per kilo of wax. This ratio may vary based on the brand. Too much of fragrance will not give a pleasant smell.
Essential oils like Eucalyptus oil, Lemon grass oil etc. can also be used for candle making. Candles mixed with Citronella oil acts as a good mosquito repellent.
You can use fragrance and Essential oils with stand-alone as well as container candles.
Step 7: Metal Molds
Metal molds are the most common molds used by candle making industries. They are rigid, available in different shapes and sizes in many geometric patterns and last for a life time if properly used. Metal molds are made of aluminum or sheet metal. There are molds for a single candle or for casting in multiples. Almost all of the metal molds are made of two or more parts which are joined together with metal clamps or nuts and bolts. They need to be lubricated to act as mold release before pouring wax. I am using coconut oil mixed with paint thinner, applied over the surface which will be in contact with wax.
The disadvantage with metal molds is that they can not be used for making designer candles with lots of curves and minute details. Though some molds are available for making floating candles, the finished product looks dump.
Step 8: Silicone Molds
When it comes to making designer candles, Silicone molds are the best. Due to their flexibility and resistance to heat to a certain extent, you can make very exclusively shaped candles using silicone molds. You can see some of the candles made with silicone molds here, which are never possible using metal molds. The silicone molds need to be sprayed with silicone mold release before casting candles.
The only disadvantage with silicone molds is they have a limited life cycle.
Step 9: Mold Release
Mold release is an agent which will prevent bonding of the finished candle to the surface of the mold, either made of metal, plastic or silicone rubber.
For metal and plastic molds mix one part of oil (I am using coconut oil) mixed with three parts of any paint thinner and store in a glass container. This mixture can be applied lightly with a sponge or a piece of cloth to the surface of the molds which will be in contact with wax.
Silicone Spray is used with molds made of silicone rubber.
Since we have finished with discussing most of the equipment and accessories used in candle making. let us move on to different types of candles we can make using this equipment and accessories.
Step 10: Pillar Candles
Pillar Candles are the most common types of candles you can make. Different shapes and size of molds made with aluminum, Silicone and sheet metal are available in the market. Following are the instructions for making Pillar Candles:
Melt wax in a double Boiler. The wax can be about 70% fully-refined and 30% Semi-refined Paraffin wax.
Add the desired color and mix well. If it is a white candle, instead of color, add wax Whitener and shiner.
If you prefer the candle to be scented also, add few drops of wax perfume and mix well.
Clean the mold and lubricate. Oil mixed with thinner for metal molds or Silicone spray for Silicone molds.
Select a wick of proper size, pass it through the wick hole and secure it at the top.
Close the wick hole at the bottom. I use a small amount of model making clay for this.
Pour the melted wax into the mold leaving just about little space at the top.
Allow it to cool until a layer is formed at the top.
Poke relief holes heat the leftover wax and re-pour,
After complete cooling, remove the candle out of the mold and trim the wick.
Your Pillar Candle is ready.
Step 11: Tea-Lights
The name tea-light was derived from their use as teapot warmers in olden times. A tea-light is a candle encased in a thin metal cup so that the candle can liquefy completely while burning. They are typically small, circular and wider than their height. The tea-light holders are normally made of aluminum but star-shaped holders made with aluminum foils are also available. Multiple tea-lights are often burned together because of their size and low level of light.
Melted wax can be poured directly into the cups or into a specially made mold and then placed in cups. If you are directly pouring into the cups, either you need to glue down the pre-tabbed wick prior to pouring or insert a one-inch piece of primed wick when the wax in the cup is partially cooled. For tea-lights in star-shaped aluminum foils, you can place a primed wick in a slanting position before pouring wax. For candles cast with the special mold, pre-tabbed wicks can be inserted through the hole formed by the needle pointers provided in the mold. Use a wax mixing of 30% FRP wax and 70% SRP wax. Add colors and fragrance as desired.
Candle holders with multiple axes for holding many tea-lights together are available in the market to be used on special occasions.
Step 12: Stacked Pillar Candles
You can make stacked pillar candles using the tea-lights cast using the special mold. Since these pieces of tea-lights have pre-formed holes, you can thread the wick through these holes and stack any number of different colored pieces. After stacking the desired number of pieces, dip them quickly in melted wax, which will form a very thin outer layer to bond all the pieces together. Trim the wick leaving about half an inch above the candle.
Step 13: Floating Candles
Floating candles are the ones you can use for special occasions like wedding events or dinner party, floating in a clear bowl of water. You can use flower shaped candles made with Silicone molds, cake mold, Molds made with aluminum foil and anything you find suitable. It is preferable that the top is wider than the bottom for floating candles. You can add color, essential oils for aroma and even glitters to make them more attractive.
Lubricate the mold with Silicone spray or oil mixed with paint thinner, which will act as a Mold release.
Melt the wax in a double boiler (FRP wax 50% and SRP wax 50%), add desired color, add a drop of essential oil and pour into the mold.
Make relief holes if required (mostly not required), and re-pour.
Remove the candles from the mold, when it is completely cooled down.
The floating Candle can be burned as a stand alone candle or as floating in a bowl of water.
You can also add some flowers to the water if desired.