Are you looking for a fun wax craft for the kids but don’t want to spend too much on candle making supplies? Or are you a seasoned candle maker looking to reduce your materials costs with easy upcycled materials? Come learn how to make your own candle molds from materials you probably already have on hand.
Candle Making Supplies
There are certainly other ways you can make your own candle supplies, though they’re not quite as straight forward as upcycling candle molds. There are methods to spin and ply your own candle wicking, for example. If you keep bees, you can also get a decent supply of beeswax built up to use for candle making. Extracting and cleaning beeswax is certainly an investment in time, though.
To begin some place a little simpler with crafting your own candle making supplies, may I suggest you savvy shoppers start with the humble candle mold?
Make your Own Candle Molds
Here are three ideas for upcycled candle molds that can be made from products you probably have in your recycling bin right now. Be sure to thoroughly clean any container you decide to use for candle making. Residual grease, food bits or liquids will interfere with the finished product.
Upcycled Glass Jars
Glass makes a wonderful container for candles and you can use just about any kind you have on hand. When using glass, you don’t have to remove the candle from the container in order to burn it because glass is heat resistant. Consequently, glass jars are very easy to use for poured candle projects.
The most obvious choice for repurposing glass in candle making is to use a previously used glass candle container. You know you have some in your house somewhere! Those glass, lidded jars, with the embarrassed remnant of some seasonal candle still stuck in the bottom? You never did throw it out because you thought it had to be useful for something.
To repurpose a previously used glass candle container:
- Dig out the wax and wash as much of the previous sticker off as you can (if it had one).
- Put the jar onto a jelly roll pan and put it in the oven. Set the oven temp as low as it will go and allow the glass jar to preheat with the oven to avoid breakage.
- Check on the container frequently, opening the oven slowly in case of breakage. As soon as the wax is melted enough to pour out, dump it into a foil-lined container. Allow the old wax to cool and set aside to make scented wax discs (see our book DIY Candles from Start to Finish for instructions). Or you can discard the old wax.
- With a paper towel in one hand and a hot mitt on the other, carefully wipe the remaining warm wax out of the container until it’s gone.
- If the wax starts to harden, just put it back in the oven for a minute to loosen up. Repeat as necessary until the container is clean.
- You may now use this far for another candle project.
Other glass containers that can be used for poured candles:
- Yogurt jars
- Baby food jars
- Quarter or half-pint canning jars
- Store bought jam or other condiment jars
- Salve and cosmetics jars
To be suitable, a glass jar must have an open mouth with no inward tapering. If the mouth of the jar tapers in, there will not be enough air flow to sustain the flame of your candle as it burns. If your jar had a lid originally, be sure to save it to cap your homemade candle and give as a gift.
Voila, brand new jar to use for a poured candle! To learn to make new candles from old candles, visit this link from Tenth Acre Farm. If you have tea cups to upcycle into candles, here’s the perfect post for you from Untrained Housewife.
Upcycled Plastic Bottles or Milk Cartons
Paper or plastic containers can be used as candle molds, if you plan to remove them from the mold for free-standing candles. Any paper carton can be re-purposed into a candle mold, but the individual serving size cartons are probably the best. This is especially true if you’re making candles with kids, and don’t want to spend a small fortune in wax to make larger candles. However, if you decide to go large and use something like a half gallon-size milk carton (big candle!), just make sure you use enough wick to keep it burning.
To learn a little bit more about what wick to use, and what effects wick use, just visit this link.
To learn more about making your own candle mold from a plastic container, please visit this link. Basically, you cut off the top of the bottle and insert a wick. Using a candle wick with its own metal base will help keep the wick stable. If you need to create your own hole for a wick, the video can show you how – it’s simple, I promise!
FYI, those flimsy plastic water bottles aren’t thick enough to deal with the hot wax so don’t bother using them. You also don’t want anything too ribbed, or you’ll never get your candle out of the mold.
Make Your Own Cardboard Mold
Cardboard makes a very functional candle mold and it’s easy use!
- Stand one toilet paper tube up onto a scrap square of cardboard. The size of the base cardboard isn’t important – just be sure that it’s big enough to stabilize the toilet paper roll.
- Using hot glue, secure the tube to the square base. Glue from the outside and press the toilet paper tube down firmly but gently.
- Allow the glue to dry completely – several hours, depending on your ambient temperature and humidity. The glue should be very firm*.
- Melt your candle wax and pour it into the mold, filling it about an inch from the top with melted wax.
- Insert a wick (see instructions below).
- Allow your candle to dry at least 24 hours before tearing away the cardboard mold.
Cardboard molds typically leave a hazy, or frosted, sheen on the surface of the candle. Buff with a soft cloth to finish off your candle.
*Paraffin wax made for candle making usually melts around 160F/ 71C. If you use high temperature hot glue to secure your mold, you shouldn’t have leaks. However, I’ve had the glue that holds the toilet paper tube together fail and cause leaks when pouring hot wax into my homemade molds. Occasionally, the molds will also leak from the bottom in places where the glue wasn’t as thick, or when I’m too anxious to use my mold and the glue doesn’t have time to set up properly.
To avoid this, allow the melted wax to cool just a bit before you pour it into the molds. To hasten the cooling, stir the wax for a few minutes and allow it to breathe. Do NOT allow the wax to form a coating on top – you want the wax to cool just a bit but NOT re-set. Once it reaches 140-150F/60-65C, pour it gently into the prepared molds.
To Insert a Wick
- Measure the length of wick needed by holding it up to the outside of your homemade mold. Use that measurement, plus an inch or two, and cut your wick.
- Pour the melted wax into the mold.
- Insert the wick into the mold until it reaches the bottom.
- Wrap the excess wick at the top around a small stick or a nail so that the wick is straight and touches the bottom of the candle.
- Place the stick or nail across the opening of the mold so that it balances on top and keeps the wick in the center of the mold for even burning.
A Note on Inserting Wicks:
The easiest wicking to use for control and straightness is zinc-wired wick. Not only will a wired wick give you more control over how straight your wick is, but it will also burn a little cleaner than a non-wired wick. A good place to look for wicks is at your local craft store or online – I’ve had good luck with Etsy sellers for candle making products.
If you don’t have wick with wire in it, there are two methods for ensuring your wick is straight and goes to the bottom or the mold.
Wrap the End of the Wick
Wrap the end of the wick securely around a small pebble or coin and place that in the bottom of your mold. You can pour the hot wax on and over it. The pebble will act like an anchor for your wick, keeping it straight.
Be sure not to pull to hard on the wick while the wax is still warm and pliable because this can remove your wick from the bottom of the mold. You don’t want your wick to end up halfway up your candle!
Tie the Knot
Alternatively, puncture the bottom of the candle mold with a small nail. Tie a knot at one end of the wick and feed the other end through the hold in the mold.
Secure the top of the wick as described in the instructions, keeping the wick straight. You’ll need a bit of candle mold clay or even glue on the underside of the mold surrounding the area where your knotted wick is placed or hot wax will leak out around the hole.
Non DIY Option
The easiest option for securing and strengthening the candle wick is to purchase pre-made wick tabs. Wick tabs are small metal discs with an opening for the wick to be inserted into and clamped closed. These tabs are very inexpensive and easy to use. They’re placed in the bottom of the candle mold and the wax is poured over them – easy peasy!
Wick tabs can be found in your local craft store or online where candle making supplies are sold.
The Why of Making Your Own Candle Supplies
If you’re new to candle making, the first thing you learn, apart from the fact that it’s really fun, is that it can be expensive. For one thing, it’s a bit addictive to take wax and wick and produce a real, usable candle. The more you make, the more candle stuff you need. Candle molds (for poured candles) are one of the higher-priced items.
So, before you dash to the craft store, go to your recycling bin to get your candle making supplies. You can make your own candle molds with upcycled materials and a hot glue gun.
FYI, if you’re really a candle nerd, I suggest you expand your repertoire with my friend Chris’s fantabuous book on beeswax and the many, many things you can do with it – including candle making! Check it out on Amazon below – I think I’m going to try making modeling clay from beeswax after I’m done with this batch of candles.
Candle Making with Kids
Making candles, as well as making your own candle making supplies, are fun activities to do with children, so be sure to include them.
To learn more about teaching candle making to kids, please visit this link.
If you have candles you’d like to decorate for gift giving, try this method – click here.
Here’s how to make crushed ice candles from Simple Life Mom.
Joybilee Farm teaches us how to make the perfect taper candles, for which you won’t need a mold.
For more ideas on how to save money and live green on the homestead, be sure to check out the Homestead Finances and Green the Homestead chapters of our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead. Don’t have your own copy of the book? Click here – we’re saving one just for you. With 400 pages of homesteading information, over four different levels of homesteading experience, there’s bound to be something there for you! We eat homestead DIYs for breakfast, man. If you’d like a free sample from either of those chapters, simply email me at Tessa@homesteadlady.com and I’ll get you set up.
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Alternative pin cover photo for this post gratefully attributed to this Pexels user.