I really love candles.
Since I was little, my Mum has burned tealight candles under essential oils to make the house smell lovely, and my Sister lights a candle nearly every time she walks into her room. Even if she hasn’t been in her room over the weekend, you walk in and it smells of Lotus Flowers.
I decided to see if I could give them a go myself and tried making them. I love the idea of being able to pick your own fragrance, and being able to make so many different ones yourself. I also love being able to give them as gifts, it’s something I am proud of because I made it, and I know the ‘gift recievers’ are going to really enjoy them.
I posted a picture on instagram & facebook a while back and asked if anyone would be interested in knowing how to make them also, and the response was huge! So…here we go!
What you will need:
(Left to right, clockwise) jars, scales, a saucepan (or 2 or 3 depending on how many scents you are going to make), soy wax, a spoon, a candy thermometer, scents, wicks (mine have the silver tabs already attached) and tab stickers – to stick your tab and wick to the bottom of your jar.
Measure & weigh your wax. It is a general rule that 1g or wax makes 1mL of melted wax. So, to figure out how much wax I need for each jar, I fill the jar with water and then pour that water into a measuring jug. If it holds 250mL of water, I need 250g of wax. (a little bit less is ok, because you have to allow for the scent to be added in as well)
Put the weighed wax into a saucepan and put the saucepan on your stove on high to melt and heat to 80-90 degrees. If you are only doing around 500g or less of wax, it won’t take long at all for it to melt. Be careful, because once it is melted it gets hot VERY quickly and it can pop and spit just like oil does. You need your candy thermometer to check the temterature. (Candy thermometres are made from glass and can withstand very high heats)
Once the wax has heated to around 80 degrees, turn off the heat and let it cool to 60 degrees.
While you are waiting for the wax to cool, stick the sticky tabs to the silver tabs attached to your wicks. Then, stick your wick to the middle, inside of your jar.
When the wax has cooled to 60 degrees, you can add your fragrance. Be careful not to add it before now, some scents have certain oils in them that expand or can explode when heated too highly, usually at about 70 degrees. The normal amount of wax needed is between 6 – 10% of the whole candle. I try to stick to 10% because the maths is easier! So, a 300mL candle needs around 30mL of fragrance. A 1L candle needs 100mL of fragrance.
Note – I have found ‘garden type’ scents are perfect at 10% fragrance, but ‘sweet’ scents like vanilla, caramel, cakes etc. are quite strong so would only need 5 or 6% fragrance. It really is trial and error and you just need to use your judgement and ‘go with your nose’ haha!
Turn your oven on low, around 50-100 degrees and put the jars on a tray in the oven for about 5 mins, while you’re waiting for the now scented oil to cool down a little more. This heats up the glass so that it doesn’t crack when you pour the hot wax into the jar. Keep in mind heating the jars will also slightly melt the wax that your wick is covered in, so I don’t cut my wicks to size until after the candles have hardened overnight, otherwise the wick will fall into the jar when it is in the oven.
Now, your wax should be cooled to around 40-50 degrees, and your jars should be warm. Take your jars out of the oven and place them on a heat resistant surface. I like to place them on newspaper as well so if I spill some wax it doesn’t damage anything. Pour your wax slowly into your jar. Place your jar(s) on a flat surface, somewhere out of the way where they won’t get knocked or spilled. You need to leave them to set overnight, or for 24 hours.
Note – To keep the wick straight, I place a chopstick on either side of the wick.
Come back to your candle the next day. You can tell if it has set, because the wax will be hard and not clear anymore. I then remove the chopsticks and cut the wick about 3cm from the top of the candle.
If your candle has cooled un-evenly, you can heat the top with a hair dryer and it should smooth itself out.
It is important to choose the right wicks, so that your candle burns evenly. If you want to use bigger jars, you need thicker wicks to ‘throw off’ more scent and burn your wax evenly.
Every candle is trial and error. I realised the first few candles that I made, my maths was wrong and I was only using about 3% scent (der!!) Don’t let it get you down if one or 2 candles don’t work. Every scent is different. I have a notebook that I have written every scent I have used, and at what percentage. After I have burned the candle, I make a note of if I think I needed to use more, or less fragrance, or if it was just right.
Don’t let ‘triple scent’ candles fool you. Yes, a lot of the popular brands of candles say they are triple scented, but after googling and reading a heap of articles on the topic, I have found out that wax is like a sponge. It will only hold a certain amount of fragrance until it can’t hold or soak in anymore and the excess floats on the top. This is just wasting your fragrance (and money), and you will probably find you don’t need to use more than around 10% anyway!
Do your research! My favourite websites are Aussie Candle Supplies and Natural Candle Supplies. Both are Australian, and both have great articles and tips and candle making. My preference is Natural Candle supplies for the scents, but that’s just me!
To make sure your candle burns evenly and doesn’t ‘pillar down the middle’ the general rule is that you need to burn your candle for at least a few hours the very first time you light it. Wax has a ‘memory’ and if you only burn your candle for an hour the first time you light it, it will only pool a small circle. Then, every time you light your candle, that is how it will burn. So, if you have a wide candle, expect to need to burn it for 3 or so hours to start off with!
Try out smaller bottles of fragrance first (30mL) , before you buy the bigger ones (100mL+). Some of the fragrances I thought sounded amazing actually smelled like old school toilet freshener when I recieved them. It’s all about the smells and scents that you like, and unfortunately the internet isn’t scratch’n’sniff just yet! So don’t read a description and think it sounds amazing and spend your money on a big bottle of it. I personally love the floral scents like Gardenia, Jasmine, Peony, French Pear and Coconut and Lime and have found them to be the most true to scent