Hand-Dipping Tapers


There is nothing like the old-fashioned, authentic look of hand-dipped tapers. It’s easy to do–but time-intensive. There’s a reason hand-dipped tapers are expensive! Even so, it’s a simple and very satisfying project, and the sheer quaintness of hanging candles makes them a great gift, too. (Give them in pairs, uncut, and your recipients will hate to burn them!)

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How to make Hand-Dipped Tapers:

Along with basic candlemaking supplies (see So You Want to Make Candles–Basic Supplies to Get Started), you’ll specifically need taper wax and small flat braid wick sized for tapers. Taper wax has a higher melting point, which will give you a cleaner-burning result. You can find taper wax, sold in blocks, at large craft stores. Flat braid wick is sold in rolls, also at large craft stores. If you like, add scent and dye. (I used a vanilla fragrance and some yellow dye here.)

You’ll also need some kind of setup to drape your candles between dips. The height you’ll need depends on the height you’re planning to make your tapers. I was making approximately six-inch tapers. After putting down newspaper, I set up quart jars, balancing boxes of pasta across them. That made the height I needed to hang my candles without them touching the paper below.

The candles are dipped in pairs, so after determining the height of your tapers, measure off double (for two tapers) then figure the length in between. (Your tapers will hang in pairs from the portion of unwaxed wick left in the middle.) Cut the number of lengths you’re intending to use. I made twenty tapers, so I cut ten lengths of wick.

To get started, melt the wax in a double boiler at the temperature specified in the packaging instructions for the type of wax you’re using. (Remember: Never leave melting wax unattended on your stovetop.) You need enough wax in the pot to reach the depth required for dipping tapers, so you’ll need a pretty full pot.

Once the wax is melted, the fun begins! Holding the strand of wick doubled over evenly, dip the two wick ends to the height you’ve planned for your tapers. On the first dip for each wick length, hold the dip for a full minute to really soak the wick.

Hang the length of wick to cool and continue on until you’ve done the initial dip for each one. Go back to the first length of wick and dip it again–this time, only for about three seconds. Hang to cool and go on to the next. Gradually with each round, the wax starts building up.

Go on and on….

….and ON.

Each dip builds the coating surrounding the wick, turning it into a taper. As you dip the candles, blobs of wax will build up on the bottoms of the tapers. You can stop periodically, cut the blob off with a knife, and drop the extra wax back into the pot.

Dip your candles however many times you need to in order to get the result you want. This is the time-intensive part. It takes dozens of dips to build up to the width of a standard-size taper that will fit your average candlestick holder. (Set aside a couple of hours to work on this project.)

As a finishing touch, you can do the last few dips in different colors of wax to add stripes. You can also roll the candles flat (except for the last inch or two) and twist them while they’re still warm for a special effect. (I like the plainer, more primitive look.)

That’s all there is to it! To use, simply cut the wicks to the top of the tapers. (Hang the candles to harden for a day before burning.)

Hand-dipping tapers is really nothing more than cutting lengths of wick and dipping them repeatedly into wax. This is easy–but not fast. It’s not uncommon to see pairs of hand-dipped tapers selling for 10-15 dollars, so it’s well worth doing yourself as you can make a couple dozen for the same price.

By the way, you won’t be able to use the wax for dipping all the way to the bottom, of course, so once the wax reaches below the point that’s usable for dipping tapers, the remaining wax can be used for other projects such as molded votives. Or add more taper wax and make some more! You can also cut short lengths of wick and make….

….hand-dipped birthday candles!


  1. KentuckyFarmGirl says:

    You truly are amazing! I love the primitive look too. I have to try this now, okay not now, but in the morning!! I need sleep now! Thank you!

    P.S. We are getting a Nubian milk goat in a couple of months! Wooo whoo. This has nothing to do with hand dipped tapers but I knew you would understand my excitement!

  2. Cheryl says:

    The tapers came out awesome! I have bees wax, now I need to pick up some flat braided wick material!

    Thanks for the idea. The only time I tried tapers was for a statehood celebration demo. I was working with about 60 kids and it took forever to get the tapers the size of a pencil…a small pencil. As a result, I decided to stick with container candles! LOL

  3. Memoria says:

    WOW! You ARE amazing! I never would have thought of making my own birthday candles. This is fantastic.

  4. CindyP says:

    I guess it doesn’t take as long as I always thought! I thought it would take a couple days…….I guess this IS a project that I could do and not get bored with before it’s done! 😆 Genius with the birthday candles, too, simply genius!

    KentuckyFarmGirl, congratulations on your milk goat!! :happyfeet:

  5. callista says:

    they look great!! do these burn any faster/slower than plain old store bought candles?

    i have a ton of bees wax left over from making lip balm and lotion bars that i just didnt know what to do with… i guess i know now 🙂

    thanks suzanne

  6. Johanna says:

    A great project. I remember as a child, my mother once bought a pair of hand dipped tapers that had a different color wax for each layer. I was fascinated to watch them burn and see the different colors emerge. But that would be WAY to complicated a project for me.

    Your beautiful, simple tapers and birthday candles are an inspiration.

  7. Sarah says:

    Oh Man!! You are making the crafty side of me come out!! All this crocheting, knitting, candle making. This is fun stuff!!! I LOVE IT!! :woof:

  8. Dianna McBride says:

    VERY nice, Suzanne! Definitely a project I would like to try. Seeing the lit candles on your table in those gorgeous candle holders sold me! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Mary from Baton Rouge says:

    I love this! I have been wanting to make hand dipped candles, but was afraid to try. You have made it easy. Thanks

  10. KimL says:

    WOW! It does appear to be much easier than I thought, now I have to try this too. My kids loved the homemade pop tarts and the homemade hamburger helper recipes – thanks for sharing those too. This weekend I’m going to try the cinnamon roll recipe and pick up some candle making supplies :butterfly:

  11. Susan at Charm of the Carolines says:

    Beautiful! You never cease to amaze me with your domestic, artistic talents!


  12. Angela Pierce says:

    :sun: You ALL are so awesome. :hug: Thanks Suzanne for this nifty candle idea…Im going to town today and get some supplies. :yes:
    Also , check out Bee supply companies. I found a slab of Bee wax for $5. I also use it to make potable chapsitck. And homemade soap Yummy! :wave:

  13. aint for city gals says:

    Now this is something I think I can do…thank you.

  14. Rys says:

    I love the birthday candles!
    Rys :pinkbunny:

  15. Lisa L. says:

    What a wonderful idea – I love the little birthday candles!

  16. Chic says:

    YES!!! This is something I have wanted to do for years but just never got around to doing it. I bought an old circa 1700’s candle mold about 30 years ago but just ended up using it for decoration. Thursday we hit the city and I’m heading to Hobby Lobby to see if they’ve got the supplies then I’ll have to find an old skiny tall pot to use for the wax. Looking forward to starting on a new project…thanks Suzanne!!!! :hungry2:

  17. Christy says:

    I love that you improvise with what you have on hand. Me? I would have to buy a special taper holder for in between dippings and I would never do it because I can’t afford one or can’t find one. I always feel like I have to spend a ton of money for specific tools… Thanks for teaching me that I don’t!

  18. Lili (in Maine) says:

    Lovely post and great tutorial. The color is gorgeous with the silver candlestick holders. And great for power outages too, whether planned or unplanned!

  19. Wammy says:

    Is there anything you won’t tackle? Youwould have made a great pioneer…the wagon driving might be a bit of concern though. But I would be willing to be you would handle it somehow.

  20. Moi says:

    Oh, how wonderful! I bought a giant blob of wax a couple of years ago but have yet to do anything with it. Maybe, just maybe I’ll get around to candle making this year…

  21. claudia w says:

    Those candles are great. I especially love the end candles…handmade birthday candles! what a way to show someone you really care!

  22. Cindy says:

    This was all good & gorgeous until I got to the last photo of the birthday candles ~ ~ then I practically SQUEEED (I think that’s how the punks say it?!?) with delight! Perfectly perfect.

  23. Kim W says:

    This is great! Thanks for posting. I’ve wanted to do this for such a long time. I did on a Girl Scout field trip yeeeeeeears ago & we had the candles quite a long time ’til I finally burned them.

    I also really like the idea of homemade b-day candles.

    Blessings from Ohio…Kim W<

  24. debbie says:

    Beautiful job, Suzanne! My daughter and I made hand dipped tapers at my sister’s church’s penny picnic. They sure didn’t come out looking anything like these though. To be fair, we didn’t want to hold up the line of other people waiting to dip. Yeah, that’s it, that’s why the candles are so pitiful looking, we didn’t want to make the others wait. Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    A full sized Nubian, Kentucky Farmgirl? Oh, I envy.

  25. Jenn says:

    Beautiful! I’ve been trying to think of a fun mid-winter project for the kids (and me!). This fits the bill!

  26. Barbee' says:

    What fun! Fun and not too difficult! Your photo #10 is BEAUTIFUL! The coloring dye that is used: is that just food coloring or do we need to buy special coloring for candles when we shop??

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      Barbee, that’s candle dye. You can get it at big craft stores (or online). I get my candle stuff at a Michael’s whenever I have a chance to be in the city. If you go to a big craft store, they’ll have an aisle of candlemaking supplies–all kinds of wax, pouring pots, fragrance oils, dyes, molds, etc.

  27. Runningtrails says:

    You do the neatest things! Those are really cool!

  28. Angela says:

    Hey Suzanne!

    You made those candles for the next power outage didn’t you! It could be the end of this week! I went to the store today so I’m ready for it if and when it comes! :shimmy: :shimmy: :shimmy:

    Angela :wave:

  29. Leah says:

    I love the yellow candles! Yellow seems to go with any decor. And the BD candles…too cute! I will have to try this sometime,and I know I can just look up the info here! Thanks! Right now I’m on a crochet roll thanks to you,Cindy P and BG,haha!

  30. Kristen says:

    Oh. My. Word. You just made me go….wow. Now it won’t stop whispering to me.

    Thank you for showing how easy it is. A plan is forming to get going on this soon.

    I’m going to need more hours in the day to get all the things I want to do done. 😀

    Time to make a list.

  31. kerri says:

    It’s hard to not be inspired to try all these neat crafts you demonstrate for us, Suzanne. I can see a lot of candle making going on among your blog friends :happyfeet:

  32. Susan Oberman says:

    I did not know we could make tapers that easily either. I really like the shorter size too. Thanks for the inspiration.

    p.s. May I ask where you found the beautiful blue and cream floral pottery you have in the background? I really like it.

  33. Susan Oberman says:

    Well it sure is pretty. thanks

  34. Betty says:

    WOW!! The candles are beautiful, you did a beautiful job!! You are amazing.

  35. Angelina says:

    Your candles look so fantastic. I tried this for the first time a couple of months ago with scraps of bees wax, old white candles and other wax scraps. Made about 30, now I know I should use some kind of color or candle wax dye. My 11 y.o says they look like Shrek’s ear wax candles. I said WOT? :help: Then I took a long look at them, hmmmm, ohhhh, they do look like Shrek’s ear wax candles, heee, heee, they are even lumpy and not smooth :bugeyed: even in nice crystal candle holders, nope, did not help them. My pride and joy are ear wax candles, I won’t tell anyone, but I am still going to use them. ‘Cause I made em so there! :woof: Angelina

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