If you have read my previous post on candle-making, you will know that I made a few mistakes on my first attempt. Because I wanted to make more candles to give as gifts, I made a few adjustments and gave it another try. This time, I even tried using candle dye in some of my candles. Below is an overview of my further adventures in custom candle-making for beginners.
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As I mentioned in my previous post, my first candle was pretty okay- except for the fact that I had not placed enough wicks in it. Because this would cause it to burn unevenly, I decided to melt the wax back down and remake it. After removing the wax from the container to melt it down, I added new wicks (seven this time). Additionally, because I had purchased an actual metal wax melting pitcher, I was able to melt and pour all of the wax at once. I also added a bit more fragrance because I read that re-melting your candle will cause some of the fragrance to diffuse. With these changes, the newly-poured candle was much more successful. The wax did not pull away from the sides of the container and it burns much more evenly with the additional wicks.
Because I had so much fun making this candle, I decided to make several more for my home and for gifts. I made a few adjustments based on my initial experience. I selected a number of different containers from various thrift stores and tried out several different fragrances. Each candle had the appropriate number of wicks glued into place. I used various configurations of bamboo skewers and washi tape to secure the tops of the wicks into place. This step is absolutely necessary. I tried to skip it on one of the candles but after I added the melted wax, the wick became unstable and refused to stay in the center of the candle.
Once I determined how many candles I wanted to make with each fragrance, I found that it was a bit of a guessing game to determine how much wax would be needed. This was especially difficult because I was using containers of various shapes and sizes that I had acquired from thrift and second-hand stores. Brian and I discussed several methods that would give us more precise measurements (such as complicated math or water displacement) but ultimately I just decided that I would do my best to guess and melt more wax as necessary.
I also attempted using dye in a few of the candles. I was trying to make some burnt orange-colored candles with a fall scent. The dye I purchased did not provide detailed directions, so the initial candles were a light peach color. They, much like my initial candle, had to be re-made. To achieve the final color, I combined orange, red, and brown dyes. As I continue to make candles, I have continued to learn more about the process.
Additional tips for candle making
- Adding color to candles is a bit of a guessing game (see above). I found that after mixing the color into the wax I could touch my mixing spoon to a paper towel to get an idea of the final color, but even this wasn’t exact.
- Using fragrance oils is also a bit of a guessing game. I found that even when I added the scents as directed, some were much stronger than others. For instance, the chardonnay scent was so light that I added the entire four ounce bottle to the wax for a single jar candle. On the other hand, when I used the whiskey fragrance oil, it smelled so strong when it was added to the hot wax that I did not use the recommended amount. Unfortunately, the final candle does not smell of whiskey at all (but I combined it with vanilla, so it still has a pleasant scent).
- It is worth the expense to purchase a thermometer with which to monitor the temperature of your wax. I was able to purchase one for three dollars at the local craft store. This is helpful because the fragrance oils usually have a recommended temperature at which they should be added for optimal binding and mixing with the wax. There are also specific temperature recommendations when adding color dye to your candles.
- The paraffin-soy blend wax is much nicer to work with than the paraffin wax. It is much softer and easier to manipulate. The blended waxes seems to hold the scents well and should burn slower than the paraffin wax. It isn’t significantly more expensive than paraffin wax, but I wasn’t able to find the blended waxes in the big box crafts stores. I ordered my wax from Candle Science, but there are a number of other sites where you can purchase candle-making supplies.
- Lots of different containers can be used to make candles. Thus far I have used a serving dish, drinking glasses, a planter, and recycled candle containers. I think most glass and metal containers would work (but I wouldn’t suggest anything with really thin glass).
I think that experimenting with the dyes and fragrance oils is part of the fun. In addition to trying different fragrances independently, I also combined a few. In fact, I think that one of the best-smelling candles so far used a combination of a citrus fragrance with a black cherry merlot fragrance. It smells amazing. I have to give credit to my sister because the combination was actually her idea. (Thanks Rachel!)
Generally, most of my candles have been successful. Some don’t smell exactly as intended or aren’t quite the right color. Sometimes I have to melt additional wax. Twice, I have had to melt down and remake the candles. But I am having a lot of fun with this hobby. I am learning as I go and anticipate fewer mistakes in the future. Because candles can be remade, there isn’t a ton of pressure. I hope this post (along with my previous one) have been helpful to anyone considering trying to make candles.
Any suggestions for future candles? What candle fragrances are your favorite?
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