Light a candle, and there it is - a gently flickering flame, a subtle fragrance that surrounds you, and most of all, a warm light that can lift your space in an instant. It’s a little hug. A perfect gift for the festive season - it is both personal and unique.
The best part is that you can easily make candles at home with natural waxes, and fragrance oils. So, worry not if you’re concerned about lead, phthalates or other potentially toxic chemicals in some commercial candles.
Here’s a step-by-step guide for making your own candle at home, courtesy, Jade Povey, previously business development manager at a zero-waste candle making company in Dubai.
Choosing your candle wax and fragrance
There are endless varieties of waxes to choose from – pure soy wax, beeswax, coconut wax, rice bran wax and more. The type of wax you use has a specific melting point, time to set, and fragrance load, which is the amount of fragrance it can hold, that you need to note before beginning to make your candle.
The melting point of the wax is the highest temperature you should heat your wax to, otherwise it may burn.
You have more than 200 options for fragrance oils as well. To calculate how much fragrance oil you need – for example, pure soy wax has a fragrance load of 10 per cent, so for a container that can hold a 250 gm candle, you can pour in 25 gm of fragrance oil. This will give you the best ‘fragrance throw’ or the strength of scent from your candle.
It is possible to overscent it – you’ll see little drops on your candle surface as it melts, also known as ‘fragrance sweat’.
Safety: Before we start, keep in mind that the process involves very hot wax, so do make sure to handle and pour the wax with care. Use heat resistant gloves when moving the hot wax.
• Candle container, or heat-resistant jar
• Candle-grade natural fragrance oil – here, it is tuberose
(Note, non candle-grade essential oils will not work)
• Pure cotton wick with a base
• Circular double-sided candle wick strip
• Popsicle stick with a hole in the centre
• Weighing machine
• Pure soy wax (or another candle wax of your choice)
• Temperature gun
• A double boiler, or pan or pot as base with water in and a taller vessel into it to melt the wax
• Candle dye (optional, as per preference)
How you can make your own candle:
1. Peel the back off your double-sided tape wick strip and attach it to the base of your wick.
2. Place your wick directly in the centre of your candle container and press it down firmly. If it does go off-centre, you can fix it up.
3. To keep the wick upright, thread it through the stick. Place the stick across the mouth of the container.
4. Pull your wick taut, and wind or bend it on the stick, so it doesn’t move as the wax is poured into the container.
5. The weight of wax required to fill the candle will usually be on its container.
6. On a weighing machine, clear the weight of the candle container by pressing zero.
7. At home, you can use a double boiler, or a tall vessel placed in another pan of hot water as a base on the stove to melt the wax. Use heat-resistant gloves, and heat the wax up to its melting point, testing the temperature with your temperature gun.
8. Here, the wax used is pure soy wax, which has a melting point of 85 degrees Celsius. All waxes are different, so you have to watch out for the melting point of the wax – coconut wax, rice bran wax, beeswax, and even second grade soy wax have different melting points. If you go higher, the wax can burn and then will have to be thrown away.
9. Then carefully pour into your measuring jug.
10. The hot soy wax needs to cool down a little before you add fragrance, as otherwise the liquid will vaporise. Once the temperature goes down to 75 degrees Celsius, pour in the fragrance and stir thoroughly – anti-clockwise, clockwise, to mix the wax completely with your fragrance.
11. Here, if desired you can add candle dyes or colourants as per instructions.
12. Now, it’s time to assemble the final candle. Once the mixture is well stirred, and the temperature below 65 degrees Celsius, begin pouring it very slowly into your candle container to prevent any air bubbles.
13. Take care not to pour too close to the edges, but rather in the middle to avoid spillage.
When you’re pouring, you’re pouring love and joy, and happiness, and whatever your good intentions are.
14. Povey says, “When you’re pouring, you’re pouring love and joy, and happiness, and whatever your good intentions are.”
15. Leave some space at the top. Never fill your container right up to the edges as this can be dangerous when you light the candle and the wax melts.
16. Now it’s time to let the wax set. Do not put it in the fridge or leave it in cold temperatures as this will make the wax freeze and pull away from the sides of the container. Instead, your pure soy wax candle will need to sit for two weeks at room temperature before it is ready. This is when your wax hardens, and the fragrance binds to it.
17. “When you light it after two weeks, you’ll have the best fragrance throw from your candle,” says Povey. This is the strength of the scent.
18. Nevertheless, if you have a birthday or special occasion coming up, and candle need is imminent, you can fast-track this process by wrapping up the candle in tin foil and placing it in a dark cupboard.
19. Top tip: When you light your candle for the first time, let it burn until the wax pool reaches the edges of the container and the full surface melts. This is to set your candle memory, so that each time it burns, it will burn till the edges and use up your candle wax fully. Enjoy!