If you’re considering making your own candles but don’t know where to start or what supplies are necessary, it’s time for a little candle-making 101. Like any craftsman hobby before beginning, knowing what one needs before starting this incredible journey is crucial.
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Most of us know the basics that go into making a candle. I remember making my first one as part of a school project; it was an exciting experience! But there’s more to making candles than just wax and wick. There are many different types of candles, each with its own unique process and equipment required for optimal results. Let us look at all the tools and ingredients necessary for making the most luxurious candle!
What do you need to make candles?
The process of making candles can be broken into three categories.
The first is the ingredients you need. The second is the tools you need, and lastly is the space you need to make candles, including the post-candle-making process.
What ingredients do you need to make candles?
When it comes to ingredients, the list can be a little complicated. This is because, considering the type of candles you can make, you might need different ingredients for each one of them. But in general, two primary ingredients are always present in your list: wax and wick. After that, you change ingredients depending on the type of candle you wish to make. The size of the candle, the color of the candle, and lastly, the scent you want to add.
To get the best result, we will go through all types of candles and the ingredients you need
As previously mentioned, there can be no candle without wax. When it comes to wax, the type of wax you should work with will depend on the kind of candle you wish to make. If you’re unsure how to start, I have an article that goes to great length on the best wax to use for which candles, which I really recommend because it will give you all the information you need to make the best choice.
Not all waxes are the same; therefore, not all candles can be the same. If you are into making pillar candles, then beeswax or paraffin wax is the way to go (more info on beeswax candles). But if you want to make container candles, you should go with soy wax, paraffin, or soy/paraffin blends. Finally, all waxes have pros and cons. Paraffin is made of Petroleum which is a carcinogen, while beeswax is 100% purely natural.
Choosing the correct wax is fundamental for a successful product. If you choose the wrong one, you’ll only end up frustrated, and if you just started, it may even lead to giving up.
We all want our candles to smell just the way we want them to. Finding the right scent can sometimes be time-consuming, but it’s the only way to find a scent you really love and one that makes you feel good.
When I say fragrance, I mean adding essential oils and/or fragrance oils or a combination of the two. Outside of these two, I wouldn’t really recommend using anything else, there are some instances where candle makers would use vanilla extract, and if you’re interested, you can try too, but if you’re a beginner, I would highly recommend starting off the traditional essential or fragrance oils.
But things like perfume, for example, are a big no-no. Using perfume is dangerous, but it may even lead to nose or throat cancer in some extreme cases. This is because, upon burning, it releases a toxic gas called formaldehyde.
Even some essential oils don’t do really well with heat, so you’d need to do some testing to find the best fragrance that goes well with the choice of wax. Now that I mentioned wax, some waxes, such as beeswax, already have their natural scent. In some cases, when beeswax is mixed with other scents, the natural scent may interfere with the other, making your candle smell horrendously.
I believe coloring can be as important as the choice of scent. In fact, most candle makers will try to match a color to the smell. You don’t have to, but having a lovely color will only make your candles stand out even more.
Coloring candles is actually not difficult (here is how to). However, using the wrong color might make it difficult. There are specialized coloring made for candle makers, and these should always be your first choice.
This means when you read on the internet or on an Instagram page that some folks are using crayons to color their candles, you should not. Crayons are colored with pigments; these do not dissolve in wax; instead, they’ll only be dispersed.
Using the correct type of coloring, such as dyes, is highly recommended. They actually dissolve as they should in wax, and if you wish to make an all-natural candle with dye, you can.
What equipment do you need to make candles?
Working with the right equipment will make your process so much faster but also so much easier. The thing with candle-making is that you don’t really have to spend much money on tools when you start out. There are candle-making kits that would be perfect for getting you started. But if you are serious and planning on making this your hobby, buying the right equipment is probably a good idea.
Similar to wax, without a wick, there can be no candle. But choosing the proper wick is as essential as selecting the suitable wax or even fragrance. This means you need to select your wick based on the wax you wish to use and even the fragrance you want to add. Sounds complicated? No worries, I know the feeling. I was there too, but believe me when I say it’s actually not that complicated once you’ve learned what you need.
Wicks can be bought in many forms and sizes; some are made of 100% natural fibers, while others are made of wood. Each wick has a property that suits a type of wax, fragrance, or a combination of both.
Like with wax, if you use the wrong wick, you might end up with a wick that behaves not in the way it is supposed to. You might end up with tunneling, mushrooming, deep melt pool, or your candle might flicker excessively. Most of these things will end up with your candle self-extinguishing, which is the last thing you want to happen.
You can also make your own wick, which can be a fun DIY project you could do with the kids. Here is an easy guide on how to make candle wicks.
5. Wick Holders
A wick that is off-center in a candle can ruin the aesthetic appeal of your homemade candles. Getting it perfectly centered will ensure better burning quality and prevent wax from spilling to either side as you pour it into your container. There are many ways to achieve this.
If you’re looking for a cheap method, use this one. Fill a large saucepan with water and heat it on the stove until it is boiling. Place your wax in another smaller saucepan inside the larger pan to create an indirect heating scenario where no water can get into the small pot holding our wax materials. Keep heating as needed but always keep an eye out so that there’s enough hot liquid left over to add more if necessary throughout the melting process!
Starting with candle tins, you can make candles without worrying about how the finished product looks. The opaque sides hide any blemishes or flaws that may occur during production. Suppose glass jars are preferred instead of plastic containers for homemade candles. In that case, I’d recommend choosing a jar with an opening diameter (center to center) no larger than 3 inches and round in shape. You could use seamless molds for free-standing pillar shapes, which offer more uniform molding capabilities than other molds available today.
A scale does not have to cost you a lot. You can buy one for as cheap as $20.00. If you are into making soap, you probably already have a scale that would do perfectly fine.
Some candles need to be poured at an exact temperature. If you fail to do so, and it’s too high, it might become combustible when it touches a spark or an open flame. I know this sounds a little dramatic, but it might happen even though it’s rare. If you are interested, I have an article that explains what flashpoint is and each essential oil with its specific flashpoint.
On the other hand, pouring your fragrance oil at a low temperature will prevent them from binding together. So as you can see, a thermometer is something you’d want and probably need. Some expert candle makers don’t need a thermometer and can do without one, but I wouldn’t take the chances if you just started.
Labels are a must if you are planning on selling your candles. Warning labels are an essential part of candle safety. They should include instructions for proper burning and general use, such as keeping them out of children’s hands. Your label should also have all the ingredients written so that the consumers know what they are buying.
Decorative labels give your candles a unique look and allow you to promote or add personalization for other special events. You can easily create decorative labels at home. If you don’t feel confident, there is also the option to hire a designer to design the label for your soap, and the good part? It won’t cost you even that much.
A heat gun is not something you need to make a candle, but it’s a tool that helps you fix candles that need fixing. To give you an example, you can fix candle tunneling by simply blowing over the candle’s surface to get the wax to melt again.
You can preheat your containers to ensure they are at the right temperature before you pour your wax into them. If your candle has air pockets again, a heat gun could solve your problem by melting the surface and tapping the air pockets out, and voila!
You can also use a hairdryer to shrinkwrap your soap; it’s actually the only way to do it. The process is straightforward and doesn’t take time at all.
Safely should always be a priority with any hobby. Making candles might require you to use disposable latex gloves to protect your hands. As discussed earlier, you could use paper towels or old newspapers to cover the workspace. Lastly, paper towels and rubbing alcohol are the easiest way to clean once your pot starts to cool off (but not entirely) once you finish making candles.
What You Need To Know Before Starting Making Candles
Even though this is the type of information most candle makers fail to mention, knowing how important it is to start with a clean and correct surface is as crucial as knowing what ingredients or tools you need to start with this hobby.
Before you do anything, take some time beforehand to prepare everything carefully; this will ensure an easier process overall when working in your space.
That means making sure to have a clean and flat surface and using newspapers or pieces of paper (or towels) for extra protection against damages done through spilled materials such as wax. Finally, it is strongly advised to remove all important belongings or objects from where they are when waxing and not damage them during this process!
What type of space do you need to make candles?
Most people make candles in their kitchen simply because they have no other workplace. But this might not always be the best place, since, well, it’s the same place where you cook and also some waxes may have a smell that might disturb others. So a separate room would be ideal if not possible, the kitchen would still be fine.
Also, storage might be a problem with some types of candles. For example, soy candles require 10 to 14 days to cure, so you need a space where nobody is disturbed by them.
Some candles may even require to be placed in a storage room where they are kept away from light or excessive heat. But you can just use your garage.