Spool of Thought

Craft Ideas, How To’s and New Product Introductions from The Ribbon Shoppe!

How To Make Candles & Wax Tarts

Posted by Kimberly on October 28, 2007

Candles, wicked and wickless, and wax tarts seem to be all the rage these days.  The nose-pleasing products come in a wide variety of fragrances, shapes, and styles and have just as many uses; thereby making them a perfect gift for close friends and family or casual acquaintances that you have an occasion to gift.  Of course, purchasing a candle or their counterpart wax tarts can be an inexpensive endeavor or a rather pricey expenditure; all depending on the brand, quality, size and various other factors.

Why not creating your own?  By creating your own candles or wax tarts, you can determine the fragrance, strength of the scent, the size, the container (or not, if you prefer pillar style), the color, and the type of wax used (soy, paraffin or a blend of both). 

The first thing that one must do if they decide to become a chandler (the old English term for a candle-maker), is to decide what type of wax they wish to use.  There is a wide variety of waxes available on the market but the three main types are:  paraffin, a petroleum based wax that is used in most commercial sold candles and tarts; soy, an all-natural wax extracted from soy beans and is more enviromentally friendly than paraffin; and the blended wax which is a combination of paraffin and soy wax that offers the smoothness of paraffin with the cleaner burn offered by soy.  These waxes can be purchased in small one pound sizes to up to fifty pound boxes and ranging in price from seventy cents per pound to over $2.00 per pound.

Now you’ve taken the first step and chosen the wax.  Next you get to choose the fragrance or fragrances that you would like to scent your product.  There are thousands upon thousands of scents available online from which to choose.  The most popular fragrances available at the lesser cost of $1.00 to $2.00 per ounce and these are called “synthetic oils”; meaning that they are chemicals mixed to create a scent.  Secondly, you have the more expensive version known as “essential oils” which are all natural fragrances.  Essential oils vary extensively in price, ranging from $3.00 per ounce to as much as $10.00 per ounce depending on the fragrance you choose.  I would recommend purchase only one or two ounces fragrance oils until you know which scents you actually prefer.

If you wish to color your candle product, you will need to purchase either dye blocks, dye flakes or liquid dye.  The prices for these products vary greatly.  Take a little time to research how each type of dye is used and choose the one you feel best suits you.  When making candles and tarts, I personally found that I preferred dye blocks, which were less expensive and allowed me to have greater control of the richness of color.

Next is choosing to create the wicked candle, wickless candle (used on a hot plate) or tarts (wickless and used in burners).  If you choose to create the wicked candle, you will need to do the research on the type of wick you need for the style of candle you will be creating.  There is many websites out there that offer the information provided by other candlemakers; however, wicking is something that each individual must test for themselves and make their own choices; the information out there simply provides a starting point.  There are hundreds of types of wicks to choose from, so research carefully.

If you choose to create tarts or pillar style candles, you will next need to purchase a mold.  There are many types of molds available for both of these candle products, so everyone is sure to find something to their liking.

If you decide to create a container candle, you need to decide the type of container you wish to use.  The wider the mouth of the container, the easier the candle is to burn; so keep this in mind when choosing.   The most popular container used for candles is the jelly jar available at most discount department stores worldwide.  The second most popular style is the apothecary jar which, like the jelly jar, is available in a variety of sizes.  Many candle-makers take pride in choosing unique containers.  These containers are generally purchased from places such as flea markets, yard sales, antique stores, domestics section of eBay, Goodwill, thrift stores, and various other “hole in the wall” places.  They may have only one candle in this type of container, or on the rare occasion two; but the uniqueness offers something special to the buyer or the receiver, if gifted.

Once you have all of your products together, you are ready to create your scented product. 

First, read the directions that came with the wax you have chosen and follow those directions to the letter. 

Secondly, at the temperature that the directions provide, you are ready to color (optional) and scent (optional) your product.  Choose you color and determine how light or dark you wish the color to be. (Tip: light colored candles are easier to burn than darker colored candles.)  Slowly add coloring.  Little by little, place a small drop on a piece of cardboard and allow to dry (less than 1 minute in most instances).  If the coloring is still too light, add a bit more dye then repeat until you have reached the desired color depth. 

Next, you will be adding your fragrance oil.  Just as with dyes, the lighter the fragrance, the easier the product will burn.  A general rule of thumb is to use 1.5 ounces (by weight, NOT by liquid measurement; so use digital scales not a measuring cup) per pound of wax.  For example, if you melted three pounds of wax for use, then you would need to use 4.5 ounces of fragrance oil.

And now you are ready to pour your beautifully colored, heavenly scented wax into your mold or container.  If you are using molds, make sure you have followed any directions for preparation (i.e., spraying, wicking); then pour and allow to set for the recommended curing time.

If you have chosen to create container candles, be sure that you have wicked your container before pouring.  Once you pour the wax, use a clothespin or other wicking device to keep your wick perfectly scented until the candle is completely cured.  Once the curing process has occurred, apply the lid and allow an additional 72 hours of curing time for the best fragrance results.

Candlemaking is a fun hobby if you have the initial investment and the patience.  If this is you, it can also be a profitable hobby.  I’ll provide more details on Chandling for Cash later, so be sure to check back!

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One Response to “How To Make Candles & Wax Tarts”

  1. Wow, I like the way you really summed it up. Candle making is so much fun. And is great for gift giving too.

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