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How To Make Candles


Nothing provides a cozy warmth in your home like the soft glow of a candle. So, what if you could enjoy the charm of candlelight, and also be confident that your indoor air quality is actually improving?

It can happen – but not with your standard candle. Store-bought paraffin candles are made from petroleum-based wax, and studies suggest that they actually release toxins into the air that you breathe. Furthermore, some candles are made with wicks that contain lead, which is released into the air when burned and deposited on surfaces in your home.

Candlelight dinner with a side of toxic chemicals? Check, please!

Health Benefits of Beeswax Candles

One fabulous alternative to paraffin candles is a natural beeswax candle. Did you know that beeswax candles are a natural air-purifier? They work through a process called negative ionization.

Beeswax is a fuel which produces negative ions when burned. Since opposite charges are attracted, these negative ions will attach to positively charged particles in the air, such as bacteria, viruses, and allergens like dust and pollen. These new clumps of particles become heavier, allowing gravity to pull them down where they can be swept or vacuumed. (source)


Even soy candles can’t compare to beeswax, since most soy in the US is genetically modified, and highly contaminated with pesticides. According to this article, even 100% soy candles must be processed with a small amount of paraffin, which means those chemicals are still being released when burned.

So to be sure you’re getting a quality, healthy candle, making your own beeswax candle is a great option.

A Few Tips Before Beginning

I first tried making my own beeswax candles over a year ago. I melted tons of beeswax, poured it into random containers, and threw in a thick strand of hemp string for a wick. It turned out I had lots to learn. After my candles didn’t turn out well I was determined to figure out where I went wrong (and use up the giant amounts of beeswax I had already purchased).

Wick Type and Size

It turns out the wick is one of the most important considerations while making beeswax candles. I talked to a few beeswax candlemakers, and all agreed that a cotton square-braided wick was best for this type of candle. In addition, you must have the correct wick size, which is determined by measuring the diameter of your container. To make this easy, I decided I would pour my candles into mason jars so I would always know the container dimensions.

To determine wick size, I used this wick sizing chart. I used #6 cotton square-braided wicks for my wide-mouth mason jars, and found that #4 worked best for the small-mouth jars. Using these thick square wicks allows more beeswax to be burned at a time. This prevents the wax pool from rising up and drowning your wick, and keeps the candle from tunneling until it self-extinguishes. (Note: If your candle burns too quickly, you need a thinner wick [smaller number]. However if your candle tunnels and won’t stay lit, try using a thicker wick [larger number].)

The particular beeswax you’re working with can also affect the way the wick burns, so you may want to experiment to find the wick size that works best for you.

Blend your Beeswax with Palm Oil

Beeswax is a very hard wax with a high melt point. Sometimes this creates a very weak flame, or causes the wick to drown. Beeswax also needs to cool down very gradually, or your candles will have large ugly cracks through them. To prevent these problems, you can blend palm oil with your beeswax. Palm oil is much softer, with a lower melt point, and is a very clean-burning oil to use for candles. I found this article that suggests a 50/50 blend is optimal, and sure enough…my candles finally turned out wonderfully when I did this!

Note: Just be sure to find palm oil/shortening that is sustainably sourced (like this brand)! Much of the palm oil used today has been produced in a way that destroys rain forests.

How To Make Candles 1

Homemade Beeswax Candles

Ingredients/Supplies

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Method

1. Using a kitchen scale, measure 12 oz. of beeswax in your large glass measuring cup. Place this measuring cup into a pan filled with a few inches of water. Melt beeswax over medium heat. (Do not heat your beeswax over high heat or it could ignite.)

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2. While the beeswax is melting, cut wicks that will be at least a few inches taller than the jars you’re using. Once the beeswax begins melting you can carefully dip one cut wick in the wax. After dipping, carefully lay the wick on a sheet of newspaper, holding one end with your fingers, and straightening it out by holding the other end down with a skewer and gently pulling it. Repeat with all the wicks. Allow wicks to dry.

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3. Using your kitchen scale, weigh palm oil and set aside. Once beeswax is almost completely melted, add palm oil, stirring a bit while it melts.

4. Once beeswax/palm oil mixture is completely melted, stir carefully with a skewer. Pour about ½ inch of hot wax into the bottom of one jar, then immediately place a wick into the center of the jar so it just touches the bottom. Hold wick in place gently until wax hardens enough for the wick to stand on its own. Set aside to harden completely. Repeat this step with all your jars.

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5. Resting a skewer on top of each jar, gently wrap the wick around skewer, making sure it’s positioned straight. Once wicks are secured, finish pouring hot wax into each jar, leaving a bit of space at the top. Set aside to cool and harden completely (12 – 24 hours).

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6. Cut wicks, leaving them ¼ –  ½ inch long.

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7. Light and enjoy your beautiful new candles! (You may have to hold a flame over the wick a little longer to light a beeswax candle. This is normal.)

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These handmade candles make the perfect gift. Screw lids on the jars, tie ribbons around them, and share with friends and family!

Tips on Cleanup

When working with beeswax, keep in mind that it will harden when cooled. I use tools like wooden skewers that can be thrown away if needed. Consider using tools that can get beeswax on them without causing a problem (like disposable chopsticks or old pencils). When your candles are poured and your glass measuring cup is still warm, it’s best to wipe it out with paper towel or an old piece of fabric that can be thrown out. Get as much beeswax off as you can before washing it in hot soapy water.

Have you ever made candles? Did you know how beneficial beeswax candles are?


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Comments

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Great question Debora. I actually meant to address this in the article. I don’t recommend adding scent to these candles. Fragrance oils are synthetic, full of chemicals, and toxic to the air. Essential oils are very delicate, and heating them not only destroys their therapeutic properties, but the high heat of a flame could also completely change their molecular structure and turn it into a toxic substance. You can read more in this article: http://www.therapeutic-grade.com/refs/scentedCandles.html

      • Israel says

        Interesting link, but ultimately doesn’t look like a very reliable info source to me….the only reference cited is a nearly 10 year old guest article from the Lincoln Journal-Star in which the owner of an air duct cleaning service attributes a number of hazardous chemicals that may accumulate in residential various home frangrance products. At no point does he ever remotely imply that he is talking about essential oils from candles, specifically. Moreover, I would personally be EXTREMELY skeptical of ANY “educational” information that is connected with DoTerra, YoungLiving, or any other MLM suppliers. I know for a fact that DoTerra, as part of their “educational” training for new reps, makes recommendations on the use of essential oils which are irresponsible and misinformed, at best, negligent and CRIMINAL, at worst. Be very wary of any info provided by MLM suppliers and always make sure they list INDEPENDENT and reliable sources for their claims.

  1. Natalie says

    Can you use a different oil instead of palm oil? It’s not so easy to get here (I’m in Sweden), plus I’d prefer to avoid palm oil.

    • says

      Natalie, you can find organic beeswax and jars in Sweden at our website. We will make beeswax candles and also rapeseed wax candles later this week, so there’s more supplies to come. I agree with the no-palm oil statement, even with organic palm oil is hard to verify the organic.

  2. Derris says

    I too am wondering about adding scent. I was thinking a few drops of pure essential oil; would that work?

    • Betsy Jabs says

      I actually tried keeping track of this with one of my candles last week. I counted 12 hours of burn time with one of the half-pint wide mouth candles, and then I lost track. The candle is only about half gone.

  3. Jennifer says

    This is great, I’m excited to try this recipe! We made 100% beeswax candles in mason jars for our wedding reception – it was fantastic!! Have you made candle sticks before? If so, would you use this 50/50 mix for that also? I’ve been looking for candle stick forms, if you have any sources I would greatly appreciate it.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      I have not made candle sticks before, so I can’t give any sources for the candle stick forms, although I’ve seen them online from candle supply companies. I also don’t know how candle sticks differ from container candles, so I’m not sure if you need a harder candle or if this soft mixture would work. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Hi Molly,

      Lots of people are wondering about this. Although I have heard of folks scenting their candles with essential oils, I don’t believe it’s a good idea. See my response to Debora above, and check out the link I left for her to read.

  4. Stacey S. says

    Can’t thank you enough for this recipe! My husband and I have a friend with an apiary and I’m super stoked to call him this week for some wax. I think I’ll try mixing it with the coconut oil since I know a few places that carry the organic around here at a decent price. I’ll have to get back to you and let you know how it works out compared to the palm oil. Cheers!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      How awesome! I’m glad you’ll be trying these! Please do return and let us know how the coconut oil works out. (Just keep in mind that comments are closed on articles after 30 days, but you can still email us through the website.) Have fun! :)

  5. Laura Mustafa says

    Hi Betsy,

    Thanks as always for your wonderful ideas and helpful instructions! I’m wondering how many candles this recipe makes? I realize you had half-pints and pints, but could you share how many of each you got from this? Thank you! I’m so eager to make candles and will also be trying the coconut oil option.

    Blessings,
    Laura

  6. Laura Mustafa says

    Hello again Betsy,

    I just re-read the instructions and see that you answered my question already! My mistake. :-)

    Laura

  7. Leta says

    I am curious if anyone knows if you could get the same effects (air purification) by just warming the wax in a wax warmer??? I add essential oils to these because they do not heat enough to change the molecules, at least I dont think so. :)
    Thank you

    • Betsy Jabs says

      You’re correct…essential oils can be used in warmers because they don’t get hot enough. I’m not 100% sure about the benefits of the warmed wax though. Does anyone else have info on this?

  8. Stacey says

    Hi, I have seen that adding oils for smell is not recommended but could I add dried lavendar from my garden and how many small mouth mason jars will this recipe make?

  9. Meli says

    I am a chandler (candle maker) and I have to disagree with some of what has been said. If you use recommended amounts of candle safe fragrance oils and recommended amounts of candle safe essential oils, you will not have any problems with your candles. Also, candle wax, whether paraffin, or soy, or palm waxes designed for candlemaking have been processed with that purpose in mind. They are as pure as the paraffin wax that is in some of the foods you buy and what your grandmother used to seal the bottles of her home made jams and pickles.

    I DO NOT recommend putting any kind of botanical such as dried lavender in ANY candle, no matter what type of wax you use. These botanicals create a fire hazard when there is the potential of the flame of the candle to come in contact with them.

    Seriously, one of the nicest things about beeswax candles is the heavenly honey aroma that they produce when they burn, I can’t see the point of disguising it with something else. Why mess with something so great?

    • Israel says

      Exactly- the key to Meli’s comment is “candle-safe” essential/fragrance oils. This is one of those cases where there is no “soundbyte” answer that is accurate. I’m an avid proponent of DIY and Natural solutions, but its important to remember that “always” or “never” statements are generally false (anyone who has recently dealt with multiple-choice testing is well familiar with this). I’m sure many of us want to be able to have all essential facts of something like candlemaking condensed into a single easy to read paragraph or two, but thats just not realistic- especially when the “natural” way of candlemaking is, in fact, an art in its own right (just ask a candler like Meli). Sure there are some general tips and tricks to get you started, but when it gets to the ins-and-outs of things like specific essential oils to use and in what concentrations, there’s really no avoiding the basic fact that people devote entire careers to candle making and one cannot expect to gain this kind of knowledge overnight.

      Bottom line, there is no one answer regarding the use of essential oils that is accurate across the board. Saying ‘they shouldn’t be used in candles’ is a “safe” answer from someone who lacks a true understanding of the subject matter. =/

  10. Meli says

    Also, lead cored wicks are illegal in North America. You may see some with a metal core; these are zinc, not lead. However, wicks from other parts of the world ‘may’ have lead in them; be sure to ask where the wicks are made before you purchase them. Personally, I don’t use them, and never have; I prefer paper core wicks for most of my candles and use the square braid for my tapers and pillars.