How to Make Container Candles


I’m a candle addict. I love to have a scented candle burning all the time, but that gets to be expensive and sometimes I’m snowed in. So about six months ago, I bought the stuff to start making my own candles. I’m a visual, hands-on learner, though, and I kept waiting for someone to magically show up to teach me. Or I was procrastinating about trying something new. Either way, I’m not sure why I was scared of making candles–it’s easy! Especially if you make container candles. And, I finally did! All by myself. Which means–so can you!

How to make Container Candles:

What you need to get started–
candle wax
a double boiler (or facsimile)
wick assemblies and tacky wax
candle scent
candle dye

You can make container candles out of various types of wax, such as soy, gel, paraffin, or specially prepared “container” wax. I’m using container wax here.

Start by preparing your containers–you can use anything that will withstand heat. I have plenty of glass canning jars with lids to seal and retain scent for the candles I won’t use right away. You can buy pre-waxed wire wicks, which make wicking easy. Put a dab of “Tacky Wax” on the bottom and it will make the wick stick to the bottom of your jar nicely so you don’t have to worry about it moving around when you’re pouring the wax.
I don’t have a double boiler, plus I wanted to melt my wax directly in the pouring pitcher (cuz it’s handy). I used a medium-size stainless steel pot as a base pot. Three wide-mouth canning rings fit just right in the bottom, creating a makeshift trivet or rack to set my pouring pitcher on. (Heating wax over direct heat can cause overheating and, possibly, a fire. Don’t do it!)
Pour water inside the base pot and heat the wax to the degree directed for your specific wax (for container wax, 180 degrees).

Monitor the temperature with a thermometer. (A candy or cheesemaking thermometer will do.) When the wax reaches its pouring temperature, add candle dye, which comes in liquid or solid form. (The dye package will direct how much to use for its specific formulation.) If you’re using solid dye, cut it up before adding it so that it will melt faster.
After the dye is mixed in, turn off the heat and quickly add the scent. You can use one scent or a combination to create custom scents. I used combinations to make cinnamon-spice and snickerdoodle.

It’s fun to play with dyes and scents, and you can make your candle scent as strong as you like by adding more scent. You can also alter the color by adding more or less dye (or even mixing dyes). I didn’t like how light my candles came out in the first batch using the recommended amount of dye. I used double for the next batch.

Pour the wax into the containers (reserving about a cup of wax for topping off later), being careful to keep your wicks centered.
You may need to support the wicks. I used knives positioned across the tops to keep the wicks in place until the wax set.
Let cool for 30-45 minutes. Reheat reserved wax to pouring temperature then top off the candles.
Allow candles to cool for a couple of hours, then top off again. Repeat as necessary

Trim the wicks and you’re ready to light candles!

This is one of those things like making my own laundry detergent or making homemade vanilla where, once I did it, I realized I’ll never buy candles from the store again. Making container candles is quick (outside of cooling time–actual worktime to create the candles is minimal), it’s easy, it’s cheaper than storebought, and it’s fun! (My favorite combination!)
I can’t wait to play with more dyes and scents and make more candles! (I played a little here making one with a lighter color on the bottom of the candle and darker color on top–but I was just experimenting. I’ve got a lot of practicing to do!)

You? You ever made candles? If not, are you thinking of trying it now?

Also see:
So You Want to Make Candles–Basic Supplies to Get Started
Recycling Candles
Fun with Container Candles

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on February 7, 2009  

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51 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 2-7

    Isn’t it fun?! Another addiction started! I usually buy the cheap candles at the dollar store for the wax, then melt down, add in fragrance and color.

    Also, when the candles won’t burn anymore, but there’s still some in there, I’ll collect them, then melt those down and make 1 candle. My leftovers from Christmas gave me 2 big jar candles and 1 small one!! That’s a lot of candle that I would have normally thrown away!

    What’s your next adventure? Thinking of wine yet?

  2. 2-7

    Thank you a thousand times for sharing how to make candles. I have always wanted to do this but was sure it was to complicated for me. I’m excited and will be buying my supplies as soon as I get to a bigger city. Thanks again!

  3. 2-7

    THAT looks like fun!!!! I love vanilla, its my favorite standby… plain old me…. vanilla, yah real risk taker I am…. :lol:

  4. 2-7

    Ok I’m with ya on the candle making, but what about clean up? How hard was it to clean up that pouring pot you used?

  5. 2-7

    I have made candles before, even by recycling old candles. It’s a lot of fun. I even bought some forms so that I could make character candles as gifts.

  6. 2-7

    I am up early today with the warmer winds blowing. Wow, waking up to 45 degrees is so much easier thatn 17 degrees and lower windchills. The snow is melting so fast. I love the idea of making candles and it is now on my list of things to try. :yes: My daughter has to make laundry soap today as we ran out so I think she needs to show me that this time so I also know how to do that. Have a wonderful day! Blessings. :happyflower:

  7. 2-7

    Good morning, Suzanne, I don’t know about W. Va. but we are finally having some sunshine here.

    I used to make candles for a living, or I made my living by making candles.

    Anyway, you did it wonderfully except I only heated my wax to 170, if you get your wax too hot you will cook your scent right out of there. But every candle maker has their own recipe.

    There is a place in Louisville, Ky. that is reasonable on their candle supplies, Alabaster Candle Supply and their shipping costs shouldn’t eat you up since you aren’t too terribly far from them.

    Bittercreek is another good one but their shipping may be a little more.

    The most important part to remember though, is your wick. If your wick is too small for the container you are using your candle will burn straight down the middle. I always made my candles in a jelly jar, with the 2.5 to 3 inch zinc wick that was already tabbed.

    Have a good one.

  8. 2-7

    My husband played with candle making for a while. We found the best deal on wax for melting down at Crafts 2000 in Parkersburg. Plus I love just nosing around that place! We got a big slab marked down because the corners were chipped off, but it was still mostly intact.

  9. 2-7

    Patty–it wasn’t hard to clean up and I don’t even have any special products for it. (I think they may make special wax cleanup stuff.) If you use all the wax, all you have to do to get the residual wax off is heat the pouring pot again briefly then wipe it out while the wax is soft/melty. If you’re really particular, you could scrub it, LOL, but I’m using a designated wax pouring pot for that reason–I don’t want to use a pot I’ll be using also for food.

    Hi, Kathy! Thanks for the supply tips! This particular container wax directed in their instructions to heat to 180. I think that varies by the specific type of wax. I noticed in a candlemaking book that it had different temps according to wax types so I followed the instructions that came with this wax. And yes, don’t add the fragrance till the last minute, right before pouring! In fact, I turned off the heat before adding the fragrance, then poured immediately once it was blended in. Wicks do come in different sizes. (For newbies like me, be sure to check the labelling so that you’re using wicks prepared for the size of containers you intend to use.)

  10. 2-7

    Thanks so much for sharing this Suzanne. I have always wanted to do this but have been somewhat timid about trying. You make it sound so easy. I have got to do this now.

  11. 2-7

    another great post Suzanne.

  12. 2-7

    It occurs that this is a most excellent use for old jars, ones with very small nicks and booboos which might keep them from sealing properly but are much too good to just throw out! And we don’t want to get those mixed back in with the real canning jars. When filled with candle wax, that is not likely to happen! :snoopy:

  13. 2-7

    This is genius! I totally love it! Have you ever seen the container candles that are set into lovely old chipped teacups? I’ am going to try them in that!

  14. 2-7

    You are simply the best, Suzanne! I have wanted to do this for years!! I think you just gave me the boost I needed. :) Thank you so much! :hug:

  15. 2-7

    That seems so easy to me now. I’ve been putting off making candles because I thought it would get to complicated and messy. I think the complicated is gone, now the messy would probably be up to me!

  16. 2-7

    I procrastinated longer than you did! I bought the supplies three or four years ago and finally made candles just before Christmas! And you’re right — it wasn’t that hard. I also made soap with my ND goat milk, and making candles was much easier.

  17. 2-7

    This sounds like a good homemade Christmas present. I know I love scented candles too. Maybe an idea for next year.

  18. 2-7

    You know, I have never made candles but I just might try since it looks pretty easy.

  19. 2-7

    Do you realize you think everything is easy!!! That’s why I love reading about everything you do!!!

  20. 2-7

    What a cool tutorial. I just spent 13 bucks on a candle about the size of yours. I’m sure I could make a few for that price. Very inspiring. I love your blog. I’m hooked ever since I checked you out as a finalist for the Weblog awards. :wave:

  21. 2-7

    I’ve made lots of candles but for some reason don’t like MY OWN! I like someone elses. currently I am enjoying a wax melting tart that I bought that is called “flower shop” and yes it does smell exactly like walking into a flower shop! I NEED this smell this time of year, yummers! :purpleflower:

  22. 2-7

    Could you post this in the Primative Crafts and Country Style forum? I have Valentine projects to finish and would like to refer to this later! Although the pretty purple candles toped with dk pk like you made would be cute for Valentines Day too. :D

  23. 2-7

    I get so many wonderful ideas from you. I especially thank you for this one. These candles would make wonderful gifts and the best part is that my daughters could help with the colors and scents to make personal gifts for their teachers. Thanks so much for sharing your time and ideas with us!

  24. 2-7

    I had fallen in love with a line of jar candles that I bought at $23 a jar (Salt City Candles). But when you get to the bottom inch or two, you’re unable to light them. I got a couple of those plug in candle warmer thingies and melted the wax and poured them into a clean candle jar, with a wick, and now I have several layered candles. They look kind of funny – an inch of red, a couple inches of white, then green, then yellow, etc. But they still smell great. No added cost except the wicks and warmers. So now I’ll have to try making my own, thanks to your easy intructions!

  25. 2-7

    Ooh, this seems like fun!

  26. 2-7

    oh…this looks like so much fun!!!

  27. 2-7

    I love candles. I’ve always been afraid to try and make them myself.
    Thank you for showing me it is easy!

  28. 2-7

    Why do you have to keep topping off the wax. Why can’t you just pour the amount needed in at one time?

  29. 2-7

    As the wax sets, a well tends to form around the wick. So you top it off to fill that sunken area. (There are some candle waxes that are labelled “single-pour” wax that aren’t supposed to do that, but I think that wax is more expensive.)

  30. 2-7

    We have been making our own candles for as long as I can remember. Isn’t it fun! I’m surprised it took you so long to try your hand at it. :bugeyed:

  31. 2-7

    I used to make candles and soap at home. :) ANother trick for hte container candles is, at the 45 minute mark, when the was is mostly set, use a knitting needle or chopstick or something long and thin and use it to poke through the wax to the bottom o the jar. Sort of like making airholes, only what it is does is help the wax set in a denser fashion. Then when you top it off with the rest, the holes fill again, and you can;t see them.

    It helps take out any air bubbles that have formed in the first pour. :) Mind you, I made candle a long time ago, and used cheap wax, so you might not need to do it. But it might be something you want to try

  32. 2-7

    Your candles are really pretty. Years ago I used to make candles in sand impressions. I had a big box of sand and would make an impression using all kinds of different things around the house. Then just set the wick and pour. The only thing was you had to deal with the sand on them. But that was kind of the look I was going for then. Back in the old hippie days LOL.

  33. 2-7

    I’ve been wanting to make candles but was never brave enough to give it a try. After reading your post it will be a breeze. Many thanks!

  34. 2-7

    For about 5 years I collected Snuff glasses, this was in my antique hunting hay day,with the sole purpose of making my own candles. I can’t tell you how many glasses I wound up with. Never made candle one. I’m sure that old farmhouse has some snuff glasses around there somewhere, huh.

    This would be a great Christmas gift.

  35. 2-7

    I’m the same. I have always wanted to make candles but figured there was some trick to it. Thanks SOOO much for blogging about it. I’ve always wanted to try one of those candles in a wax square milk container.

  36. 2-7

    I also save even tiny scrap of candle wax left from my old candles. It feels great to recycle and it is CHEAP! I just try to combine similar colors.
    Don’t be afraid to try the candle molds!!! I bought a medium sized candle mold, then I bought a set of votive candle molds. They are also extremely easy to make-and have saved me a lot of $.
    What a fantastic blog – thanks for sharing your creativity, spirit and crafts.

  37. 2-8

    I made container candles one year. It’s fun and easy! Your’s look great!

    Crayons make good coloring for candles. Chop it up and melt it before adding to melted wax as they might be harder. The brand name crayons are very hard. I get them at the dollar store or by the box full at garage sales to melt for various crafts, mostly soap related. There is a candle factory near here that sells large bags of wax pieces for a very cheap price, and leftover scent too. Hmmmm…I should make some candles again to sell with my soap. I make verious kinds soap from scratch when I get the urge. They could even have the same scent and color to use in the bathroom with the soap. Thanks for the inspiration!

    It can get conplicated. How long the candle burns and how much scent it throws depends on the hardness of the wax and to make freestanding candles, you might need steric acid and harder wax. Container candles are so easy and, really, what more do you need in a candle?

    My mother made candles while I was growing up. She used to make them in milk cartons and put ice cubes in them so they came out looking like swiss cheese. She also frosted some for Christmas with whipped wax that looked like snow. I don’t plan to get that fancy.

    I like the simple container idea, with a lid to keep in the scent. I can probably pick up lots of little glass containers with lids at garage sales this summer…

  38. 2-8

    Suzanne, don’t forget to use the wicks without the wire in the center. Some of them are made from lead and aren’t good for you.

  39. 2-9

    I just love candles, too! That looks like a very doable project and you put together a nice tutorial (maybe if I start now, I’ll have some x-mas gifts done for next year, LOL!

  40. 2-9

    Wow a cheap source of Christmas presents for 2009. I can TOTALLY do this. I am a candle lover since high school. I used to catch my then long hair on fire while making wax sculptures and wine bottle drip candle thingies.

  41. 3-14

    When my mom taught me to make candles she used old cans to melt the wax. Each can was cleaned and the rim was crimped to make a spout. This way we made several different colours at the same time, in one water bath. We used old lipsticks, and wax crayons to colour the batches. Thanks for the site – great content.

  42. 3-30

    How do you make fancy container candles, like sparkles in it that will show or something like that.

  43. 3-30

    Hi, Marlene! I’m planning to do more posts on candles with “special effects” soon!

  44. 3-30

    I am allergic to scents. But I love the thought of cinnamon or some safe scent that is not related to flowers, although I love the scent of flowers.

  45. 5-21

    So, I did it all wrong and I can;t wait to see the results! I used food coloring-WRONG! And essential oils. also WRONG!
    It was an impromptu moment of inspiration, ‘I’ll melt my old taper candles into new candles to conserve their wax and make a whole new candle!’ Great idea but the follow through needs work. I’ll refer to your instructions next time.

  46. 5-21

    So the candle set, and shrunk and HUGE well formed. More wax to be added soon and the color stayed! The food coloring held. What a surprise. Hope the computer stuff gets ironed out on the cheap!

  47. 12-1

    As kids we helped a couple make candles. They did all the wax and wick handling, but us kids made the candles themselves. We had a box of sand, dug out shapes, put in trinkets, bark, stones and any other item deemed safe enough to make the candles beautiful. It worked wonderfully. The sand brushed off of the candle leafing overlapping rocks or bark as the sides. Some of the candles were large enough to have two or three wicks. They lasted for ever. It’s nice to know how to actually handle the wax and wick portion. Thank you

  48. 2-8

    I have to say that your articles on making candles (especially the one on tapers) gave my husband and me enough of a push to do it. We’ve collected all our old wax and have done it twice now. Our only problem is that pesky dip after it cools. Still working on the proper technique for that one. Thanks for making it look so easy and fun. My Husband and I have a craft we can do together now!!! YEAH!!!

  49. 10-27

    Thanks for the tips…it didn’t seem that scary but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. I’ll be making “Fire Starter Baskets” for Christmas gifts this year!

  50. 11-22

    I saw a really cute idea today from Food Network on making container candles. They used cleaned cans from Thanksgiving (like pumpkin) and made a scented pumpkin spice candle in the pumpkin can. I thought that was a really cute idea!

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