Last week, we talked about easy homemade gift ideas. Gifts that don’t require a crafty gene in your body and are (as the name implies) easy to make and gift to friends, family, a teacher, the mailman, or yourself. One of my favorite gifts to make is homemade candles.
You may be thinking, “Wait, making homemade candles definitely sounds crafty.” Let me assure you, making your candles is incredibly easy to do. I’m here to show you how to make homemade candles the easy, mess-free, no-crafty-gene-required way.
Why Make Your Own Candles?
That’s the big question. Why not just buy candles? You certainly can do that, but I’m here to teach you how to make homemade candles. So let’s talk about the why.
There are a few reasons why you may want to make your own…
Reason 1: Reduce the Toxic Load From Conventional Candles
Most conventional candles are made with paraffin, which is a petroleum based product that can give off toxic fumes. Homemade candles are made with either soy or beeswax (we’ll talk about this later).
Along with the paraffin, the other concern is fragrance. I’ve shared about the dangers of fragrance in the past. Most candles are scented which means that many different chemicals may be used to create that “one” scent and make it strong and long-lasting.
As the Environmental Working Group shares, “…fragrance formulas are considered to be among the top 5 known allergens, and can trigger asthma attacks. The same kinds of chemicals are often used for fragrances in cleaning products, scented candles, and air fresheners.”
I’m not here to preach perfection. I get lash extensions and paint my fingernails with nail polish that isn’t “clean.” I’m also very aware and intentional about reducing our overall toxic chemical load.
In our home, we use vinegar and castile soap to clean (because what we spray in our homes is inhaled), my skincare routine and makeup routine are made up of non-toxic products (because what goes on our skin is absorbed into the body), and we eat seasonal and local food (as much as possible, because how our food is grown and raised has an impact on our health).
Making candles (or buying them from sources that don’t use paraffin wax and use essential oils for the scent) is one way for us to lower the overall toxic load in our home.
Reason 2: They’re Super Easy to Make
Making your own candles is incredibly easy. Easier than you may think. You can make quite a few candles at one time and since they don’t spoil or expire, you can store them away and pull out a new candle as needed throughout the year. So yes, there’s a time investment up front, but in the end you can make multiple candles in just over an hour.
Reason 3: Save Money by Making Your Own Candles
If you’ve looked at non-toxic candle options on the market, whether we’re talking about soy or beeswax candles, you probably know that they are expensive.
Homemade candles are affordable. Yes, there’s an investment in the wax, the wicks, and the jars (you can use any heat-safe glass jars so you may have some already in your pantry). But once you have these ingredients, you can make multiple candles for the same price you might otherwise pay for just one from the store.
Supplies Needed to Make Your Own Candles
In order to make your own candles, you’ll need a few supplies. Now, as I mentioned above, there is an initial investment in purchasing these supplies, but once you have them, you can make multiple candles. All of the supplies can easily be found on Amazon (I’ve included links below) or at a craft store.
Beeswax or Soy
Paraffin is the most popular wax used to make candles, but since it’s derived from petroleum and can release toxic fumes we’re going to avoid this option.
I recommend using either soy wax or beeswax. Soy wax (a white wax) is made from soybean oil. Beeswax (a yellow or white wax) is a product made by honeybees. The color of beeswax depends on the type of honey produced by the bees and the pollen. The color has nothing to do with the purity of the beeswax. Making candles is the same process, no matter which wax you prefer to use. So the tutorial below is applicable to both beeswax and soy. One thing to note, beeswax can be more expensive, so if you’re wanting to keep the cost to a minimum, soy is the more affordable option.
Jars or Containers
You can use a variety of jars or containers as long as the jars can withstand heat. I recommend mason jars, particularly the 4-ounce size. The best place to buy Mason jars is at Target, Walmart, or a grocery store. They are quite expensive on Amazon.
For wicks, I recommend two options: hemp or cotton. Since we’re making a non-toxic candle, it’s important to avoid wicks made with lead. Whatever option you choose, make sure the wick includes a metal base as this makes it easier to position the wicks in the melted wax.
If you want to add a scent to your candles, there are two options: fragrance oils or essential oils.
For the cleanest, non-toxic option, I recommend going with an essential oil or a blend of essential oils. Essential oils aren’t as powerful as fragrance oils since they don’t have any chemicals added to make the scent stronger and longer lasting. Fragrance oils are the strongest option. I can’t tell what goes into making fragrance oils, so if you go with this option you may want to call the company first and ask for a disclosure of ingredients.
I’ve experimented with various methods for making candles and the best way to make homemade candles is the slow-cooker method.
How to Make Your Own Candles
There are multiple ways to go about making homemade candles.
Method 1: Stove-Top Candles
First, melt the wax in a pitcher or bowl. To do this, set the bowl over a double boiler pot (a pot filled with a couple of inches of water) and set the pitcher or bowl over top. The pitcher or bowl will not cleanup well, as wax is impossible to remove once you’re done, so this pitcher or bowl will forever be your wax-melting container. Once the wax is melted, position a wick in each jar. Pour the melted wax into the jars until full. Add the essential oil and allow the wax to fully cool until it hardens. If you want to use this method, click here for the tutorial.
Method 2: Beeswax Sheets for Taper Candles
This is the easiest method for making homemade candles. Purchase beeswax sheets (which usually includes wicks). Cut the wicks to fit the sheets and roll-up the sheets. So easy! This is a great project for kids. If you want to use this method, click here for the tutorial.
Method 3: Slow-Cooker Candles
With the slow-cooker method, you don’t get the mess that you get when you melt wax in a bowl or pitcher. To make slow-cooker candles, pour wax into jars. Place the filled jars in the slow-cooker base. Turn the slow-cooker on high and add boiling water to the slow-cooker until it comes half-way up the exterior of the jars. Allow the jars to “cook” for 30-45 minutes, covered. After 30-45 minutes, the wax should begin melting. Add more wax. Place the lid on the slow-cooker and “cook” the jars for another hour or until fully melted (soy melts quickly, beeswax takes longer). Remove the jars from the slow-cooker and place a wick in the melted wax. Allow the jars to fully cool until the wax hardens. This is the method I’ll show you in the tutorial, below.
Whatever method you choose, I think you’ll find making candles to be therapeutic and also an incredibly beautiful way to make gifts, or to enjoy in your own home.
- 4 ounce mason jars heat-safe jars
Per 4-Ounce Mason Jar:
- 1 1/2 cups wax soy (180g) or beeswax (120g), divided
- boiling water
- cotton or hemp wicks
- 1 tsp coconut oil melted, optional
- 50 drops essential oil optional
- Spoon the wax of choice into the jars. Using the back of a small measuring cup or large spoon, press the wax down into the jar as it gets closer to the top. Add more wax until the jars are full. At this point, you'll probably only need about 1 cup of wax per jar.
- Place the filled jars in the slow-cooker base. Turn the slow-cooker on high. Add boiling water to the slow cooker, until it comes halfway up the exterior of the jars.
- Allow the jars to “cook” for 30-45 minutes, covered.
- After 30-45 minutes, the wax should begin melting. Add more wax, pressing the wax down with a small measuring cup or spoon until full. Place the lid on the slow-cooker and "cook" the jars for another hour or until fully melted (soy melts quickly, beeswax takes longer to melt).
- Carefully remove the jars from the slow-cooker using a hot pad holder or a towel. Let the candles rest for 10 minutes.
- For Fragrance: If you'd like to add an essential oil, in a small bowl, stir together 1 tsp of liquid coconut oil and 50 drops of essential oil. Pour the mixture into the candles and stir. If you're using fragrance oil, no coconut oil is needed--follow the instructions from the supplier.
- Place one wick in each jar, holding up the tops of the wicks with clothespins or mechanical pencils or pens using the clip portion. This will keep the wicks from moving in the liquid wax.
- Let the candles rest until cool and solid (about 30 minutes).
- Once cool and solid, cut the top of the wicks to 1-inch. The candles are ready to use. If any holes appear at the top of the wax (this can happen when the candles cool too quickly), melt more wax in a separate jar and pour into the holes to fill. The holes are just a cosmetic issue.
I made these yesterday in tea cups I found at goodwill and they came out perfectly! No mess! Thank you so much!!
That’s awesome, Lauren!
My daughter-in-law had a box of these and we were trying to decide what to do with them. When I got my ‘livesimply’ e-mail showing how to make these crockpot candles I new exactly what we were going to use. Worked out perfect. ?
I made these recently in 5oz Oui Yogurt jars that I saved. Came out perfect. My only problem was when I burned them there was no smell. I used 50 drops plus oil of Christmas Pine from Hobby Lobby. I’m wondering if my own oils from DoTerra would of given me more sent.
To Evey, how much wax was required for the 16 oz jars. Thanks, Carolyn
Hey Carolyn, What a great idea to use those jars–they’re the perfect size.
That’s pretty common with essential oils. The smell isn’t potent like a store-bought candles. Different essential oils may offer different scent potency, too.
Carolyn-I have 30 of those cute little jars. Love them! Now I have something to do with them!
Hi Carolyn; I used ~7/8 of a 2-lb bag of soy wax flakes for (2) 16-ounce mason jars. After a week of burning, I decided to revise the candles scents and was able to use the remainder of the bag to “top up” both candles.
Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving to all.
This was the most rewarding Saturday activity I’ve done in a long time. I made them in 16 oz mason jars, which surprisingly didn’t need any additional “cooking” time because the soy wax melted so quickly. The only difficulty I had was in getting the silly mechanical pencils not to roll over and thus bow the wick in the liquid wax. I’ll try clothespins for my second draft. This time I used peppermint and eucalyptus in one jar and cedarwood and bergamot in the second jar. They turned out GREAT, and they were SO simple! Five minutes of work to get eighty-ish hours of burn time? I’m never buying a candle again. THANK YOU Kristin.
Thank you for sharing a photo, Evey. Those looks amazing. I love the tall jars. So glad you enjoyed making them.
After a week of use, I realized I wasn’t fully satisfied with the amount of scent from each candle. In my first draft each 16-ounce jar got 60 drops of primary scent and 30 drops of secondary scent. The result was on the mild side for my liking. So I re-melted the candles in the slow cooker, topped up the wax in each, and added a couple dozen additional drops. Success! If I didn’t already love this craft for its productivity and affordability, I’d love it for its flexibility. This one is a real winner.
That’s awesome, Evey! Thanks for coming back and sharing your scent success. I’m so glad you were able to make it work.
I don’t have coconut oil. Is there another oil I can use?
Hey Kimberly, I would just skip it. Should be just fine :).
This looks like such a good gift idea! Do you know if there’s a way to add more than just a slight sent to the candle? Would you just add more oil to the candle or would you need to use something else? Thanks again for sharing this great idea!
Hey Kathleen, You could add more essential oil, or try a fragrance oil–not sure how natural fragrance oils are but that’s all I can think of.
You could also try powdered cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger. Also powdered herbs would probably work. I did the cinnamon nutmeg and ginger one with beeswax as the base. Made them into melts and candles, the fragrance was great.
Have you tried this with 8 oz. jars? Thanks so much for sharing!
Hey Ashley, I haven’t, but I bet they’d work great. You’ll just need to increase the “cooking” time.
Kristin, thank you so very much. I’m new at this and appreciated your quick response. I am going to make these with my granddaughter she loves crafts. We did your lip balm awhile back with cinnamon oil. Her favorite. Was lots of fun.
Gotcha, glad I asked. Can you tell me why the coconut oil with the essential oil..
I’ve found the coconut oil helps to disperse the essential oil better.
Am I correct that the 1 tsp of oil and 50 drops of essential oil is for all 5 jars. I know silly question.
Hey Carolyn, The recipe is per jar, so that is for one jar :). The example of 5 jars is how many fit in my slow-cooker.
Excited to make these as holiday gifts! Any EO scent suggestions?
Hey Emily, I like blends, particularly the new Spiced Orange blend from Plant Therapy: https://www.planttherapy.com/synergies.
Do you secure the wicks to the bottoms of the jars? Or does the wax hardening do the trick? Wondering how to get the base to the bottom when already fill of wax. Thanks!
Hey Gillian, I just set the wicks in the wax, making sure the metal base is on the bottom of the jar, and then secure the top with the clothespin or pencil so nothing moves. I think this would be much harder with a wick that doesn’t have a metal base–like the ones I use. The wax starts to harden from the bottom of the jar, so you could wait until you notice that it’s becoming cloudy (hardening) and then insert the wicks so there’s a bit more to “catch” and set the wicks. Does that makes sense?
I’m wondering about condensation that would be produced by the water in the slow cooker. Does it not drip down from the lid and into the wax?
Hey Gloria, That’s a great question. I was concerned about that, too, when I first started experimenting with this. From my experiences, there are some droplets, but nothing considerable enough to effect the candles in a bad way. You could also try leaving the lid off (it will probably just take a bit longer), or wiping the lid off as you go. If you’re making a bunch to store long-term, the water droplets could be an issue (?), but the 4-ounce size jars burn pretty quickly if you use candles often so I haven’t had issues with the few droplets that may get inside the wax.
I would also like to know which setting (high or low) to use on my crockpot
Hey Carol, From #2, “Place the filled jars in the slow-cooker base. Turn the slow-cooker on high…” 🙂
Love love love this idea! I hate the mess that’s created with homemade candles. Brilliant!
Yea, me too! Thank you, Erica!
Was wondering how many candles would the one pound of beeswax make? Thanks for the tutorial! Can’t wait to try it! Praying for your family as you try to get things back to normal after such a scary time.
Hi Kaila, Kristin is on vacation right now, but I have made a note for her to answer your comment when she returns. Rachel
Hi Kristen! This is such a great idea. I cannot wait to try this out. I have a slow cooker that only has 2 settings — low temperature or high temperature. Which setting should I use?
Hi Anna, Kristin is on vacation right now, but I have made a note for her to answer your comment when she returns. Rachel
This is amazing! I can’t wait to try this method! Candle making is always so messy. I would love to use beeswax, but the last time I made beeswax candles the wick wouldn’t burn/the flame would extinguish. Is there a special “beeswax” wick I should try? Thanks! So glad you and your family are safe!
Hi Andrea, Kristin is on vacation right now, but I have made a note for her to answer your comment when she returns. Rachel
Hey Andrea, I think you’ll get about 2-4 ounce candles per pound of wax. I’ve had really good success with the ones I linked to on Amazon. They’ve worked really well for my beeswax candles.
Such good news, despite being without power, you and your family are well. Thanks for the update.
Thank you, JoAnn C.
Should it be fractionated coconut oil?
Hi Kailly, Kristin is on vacation right now, but I have made a note for her to answer your comment when she returns. Rachel
Hey Kailly, I use regular virgin coconut oil.
Hi Kristin, these candles look great! I’ve never been a fan of beeswax, but the colour looks really nice.
Not owning a slow cooker, I was wondering if you could make this in a Dutch oven. Do you think that could work?
I’ve also looked at your previous candle post with the double boiler, and I think I’ll give that a try. I have tons of Weck jars in storage that would be perfect for this.
Hey Kiki, I think a Dutch oven would work perfectly! Just replace the water as needed, since it may evaporate due to the heat of the stove-top.
Thanks! Already ordered the supplies and will make these with a friend as Xmas gifts – either in the Dutch oven or the double boiler method mentioned in your earlier post.
Awesome, Kiki! These make great Christmas gifts!