I ran across this article back in December that explained that you can make candles IN A CROCKPOT. I was immediately intrigued. I love candles but strongly dislike how expensive they are. (Remember how much effort I put into finding a deal on candles a few years ago?)
I had briefly looked into candle making previously, but it seemed really hard - there were specific temperatures you're supposed to heat the wax to, a specific temperature when you pour in the color and scent, a temp to pour the candle into the container (not to mention the terrifying prospect of pouring molten hot wax into a container)... it just seemed too hard.
UNTIL THIS METHOD.
I researched a bit more and found a few additional articles. I ended up using a process that most closely resembled this article's.
I researched for a day or two and then decided to jump right in and immediately ordered $70 worth of candle making equipment so that I could make candles for Christmas gifts. I've made 10 candles so far and I'm ready to show you my method now that I've tested it out a few times.
- Soy Wax (I got a 10lb bag from the CandleScience website, but it was this 464 kind)
- Wicks (make sure you figure out exactly which size wick you need; too small OR too big will cause the candle to not burn properly. I used the wick guide on the CandleScience site to figure out what size I needed based on my wax type and container diameter)
- Scent - I got three:
- Very Vanilla - this was okay, not my favorite vanilla scent though. It was too sweet smelling for my preferences. I will try another one next time I order.
- Christmas Hearth - this was legitimately awful. It made our apartment smell SO BAD for weeks after I made the candles. The final result in the candle isn't bad, but dealing with the smell while making the candle was just terrible.
- Love Spell - this one was AMAZING. Hands down my favorite scent. I will absolutely purchase this again. Thank goodness it made up for the two other scents.
- Liquid Dye - I got Hunter Green to go with the Christmas Hearth scent. It's definitely not necessary, though; I kind of like NOT having dye. I didn't use dye for the Vanilla or Love Spell candles and liked the plain white color. My friend Melanie is testing out using crayons as dye, so that could be a cool/cheap way to do it!!
- Jars + lids - I was very careful to get jars that are MADE for candle making. The last thing I wanted is to skimp on the glass jars and then have them shatter while burning the candle because they are cheaply made.
- Something to stir the melted wax with (I used plastic spoons)
- Wick supports - I used pencils and twist ties, but you can use anything that will help support the wick. There are legit real wick holders too.
1. Put tin foil in the bottom of your crockpot. You WILL spill wax flakes; it's inevitable. Having tin foil down ensures you don't have to clean up wax from your crockpot.
2. Place candle containers in the crockpot and fill with wax flakes. I used a small measuring cup to fill the jars without spilling too many flakes.
3. Turn on crockpot to high, cover with lid, cook for an hourish or until wax melts.
4. The wax will melt down a LOT. In this pic, you can see that all the wax melted down to less than half full! So once it's melted, add more wax flakes, replace the lid, and give it another 15-30 minutes until those flakes melt.
5. Continue adding wax and melting it down until your containers are almost full - remember that if you're going to add scent and/or color, that will also increase the volume of the candle!
Also I learned that if you have a container that curves in at the top, do NOT fill wax so high that it touches the curved part. Fill no higher than the straight part of the side. if the wax is touching or past the curved part, it will make the candle crack on top as it cools. I learned this the hard way.
6. Once the candles are fully melted, remove the crockpot lid and turn the heat off of the crockpot, but leave the candles in there.
7. Now it's time for adding scent and color (if desired). I performed some high level math using the recommended dosage percentages for each scent to calculate how much I should put in each candle. (seriously, that piece of paper in the upper right corner of the picture is filled with math haha) I ended up doing 4 tsp. of scent for each candle and 15 drops of color for the colored candles. But it'll depend on the size of your containers, how strongly colored/scented you want the candles, etc. The first time I made the Christmas Hearth candles I didn't put in enough green color so it cooled and looked lime green rather than dark green. So I just re-melted it in the crockpot and added more color :)
8. Once you've added scent and color, let the candles cool for about an hour (still in the crockpot) before you put in the wicks. I added this cooling step to my process because in my experience, the wick got super bendy if I put it in a HOT candle, and then it was very difficult to keep the wick straight as it cooled. Adding this cool down period allowed the wax to cool slightly (it remained completely liquid though) so that the wick didn't bend as much. The cool down time will depend on the size of your candles and how much heat your crockpot retains, so you might need to play around with this time.
(I also ended up using a candy thermometer that I already own to check the temp of the candles as they cooled. They were around 160* when I added the color and scent, and after an hour they were down to about 120*. I only used the thermometer because I already owned it; it's definitely not necessary)
9. Place the wick in the candle. It should be easy because the wax is still liquid. (if your wax has started to harden and isn't transparent anymore, the cooling period was too long. heat them back up and cool them for a shorter amount next time!) Just gently place the wick straight down into the wax until it rests on the bottom of the jar.
10. You might have awesome wicks that already stand straight up without any support. If you don't, (and actually, it's probably a good idea even if you think the wick will remain straight) you'll need to use some sort of wick holder to keep the wick straight up while the candle cools. I created a support structure using pencils and twist ties; but you can use whatever you have on hand, or buy real wick holders.
10. Let the candles cool (still in the crockpot). I left mine overnight to be sure they were totally hardened. Be sure not to bump or jostle the crockpot or the counter it's on while the candles are cooling. These things are DELICATE and any little bump can cause a crack or sinkhole in the candle :(
11. Once the candles are cooled, remove them from the crockpot. Use a super sharp pair of scissors or shears to cut the wick to ~1/2 inch.
12. And you're done!! I read articles that say you should let candles cure for 5 days to get the optimal scent; I have no idea if that's true. I used some of mine immediately and they were fine.
You can even get fancy (I haven't gotten this far yet) and make labels for your candles!
I specifically chose soy wax because I hear that's one of the cleanest burning waxes. However, soy wax has this weird crystallization effect after you burn it. Many conventionally sold "soy" candles sold have a small amount of other types of wax that makes them smoother; however, when you make 100% soy wax candles, they'll look almost crystalized on top. It's nothing you did wrong in making the candle, that's just how soy wax is!
Is it worth it? TOTALLY!!
My ~$70 investment has created 10 candles, and I think I have enough wax to make 1 or 2 more. I ran out of scent though, so once I restock that it might be like $75 total to make 12 candles. That's a pretty awesome cost compared to most store bought candles - especially because these are actually pretty large candles! In the future, I'm also going to start reusing other candle containers that I already own which will bring the cost down, and once I find scents I like I can purchase those in bulk. Also I want to try buying wood wicks and make a candle using those; I love wood wick candles!!
Overall, this process is really easy. Once I figured it all out, t's only ~30 minutes of work spread out over a ~3 hr period to make 4 candles of this size at a time. I love being able to make my own candles!! I think it's an awesome gift - way more personal than buying a generic candle. And not to mention cheaper :)
Have you ever made candles or any other craft like this?