This weekend I ended up with a little more crafting time than I anticipated, and decided to go back to one of the activities I took up last year, soy candle making. I had a bunch of empty coconut manna jars in the cupboard just begging to be made into lovely scented candles, and while melting the wax I figured I’d also create a tutorial to share. If you need some last-minute Christmas gifts, this one’s for you!
What you’ll need
When I started making candles last year, I was living in LA and bought the majority of my supplies from Candle Science. This is also where I learned pretty much everything I know about making soy candles – including the tutorial below – and I definitely recommend checking them out for more info, tips, FAQs and troubleshooting. Unfortunately at the time of writing this, they do not ship to Canada. That led me to explore some other options, and I ended up getting my supplies for this batch of candles from Canwax. Both sites have great resources, including wick guides (here and here) to help you figure out what size wick is right for your jars.
Without further delay, this is what you’ll need:
- AAK Golden Brands 464 Soy Wax – this is a very common soy wax for container candles.
- Pouring pitcher – you want a metal one with a plastic handle like this to insert in a double boiler on the stove. This is what you’ll melt your wax in.
- Wick stickers – these are little round stickers that you’ll use to stick your tabbed wicks to the bottom of your jars.
- Pre-tabbed wicks – The right wick size will depend on your container’s diameter. My jars are about 3″ across, and I use CD-18 or HTP-105 wicks.
- Glass jars – ensure they’re wiped clean inside.
- Scents – both Canwax and Candlescience offer better-for-you fragrances and detail the extent that they vet these products for harmful toxins and substances. You can read more here and here. See my notes for how much scent to use in step 3 below.
- Meat/candy thermometer – this is super important.
- Scale that measures in grams – also super important!
What to do
1. Prep your jar(s)
For each candle you want to make, ensure the jar is completely clean. I used empty Nutiva coconut manna jars, which I’d removed the labels from previously. Put a wick sticker on the tabbed part of your wick, then remove the adhesive back and stick the other side firmly to the bottom of the jar.
Using whatever you like to support your wick, ensure it’s securely upright. (You can do this with wick centering devices, but I just use tape across the top of the jar, leaving big enough areas to pour my hot wax later.) Leave the wicks long for now – you will trim them after your candles have set and cured.
Place your jar(s) on a flat surface – the same one you’re going to let them set and cure on. Ideally this should be a place that’s not at risk of being bumped, and shouldn’t be in a drafty area as this can affect how the top sets. If you have an empty shelf or a cabinet, that’s ideal! I like to set my jars on a baking sheet, then place the baking sheet on a side table in a corner of the room away from open windows.
2. Calculate how much wax you need, measure and melt it.
The jars I used each previously held 425g of coconut manna, but the amount of wax that fits in the same jar isn’t quite the same weight. I wanted to ensure there’d be some space in the top for the wick to fully fit inside, and ended up measuring out 300g Golden Brands 464 Soy Wax using a scale.
After measuring the wax, put it in your pouring pitcher and make a double boiler on your stove. Bring about 1/3 pot of water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Place the pouring pitcher containing the wax inside, being careful not to let any water into the pitcher. (If it looks like you might, pour some of the water out of the pot). You’ll be melting the wax to 185F, so stick your thermometer in and wait for it to get to this point.
Note: Temperature and measuring your wax + fragrance with a scale is suuuuuper important for getting consistent results, and these 2 things also have a big impact on how fragrant your candles are, so don’t be tempted to skip a scale and thermometer!
3. Measure the fragrance
While the wax melts, measure your fragrance. Different waxes have different fragrance loads, which is the max % of wax they can handle before it doesn’t matter anymore – adding additional fragrance won’t have an impact and it would just be wasteful, so there’s no need to go over 10%. The max fragrance load for GB 464 wax is 10% per lb, or 45g per pound (454g) of wax. For any candle you make, when measuring the fragrance you just want whatever 10% of the total wax weight is, in grams.
For my jars:
1 candle = 300g wax. 10% of 300 = 30g fragrance
4. Combine wax + fragrance
When the wax is 185F and completely melted, take it out of the double boiler and set the pitcher on a dishtowel. Pour the scent in and gently stir for 2 minutes. Let the scented wax sit in the pitcher until it cools to 145F. (This is important for ensuring that the top sets flat and not with holes or other weird cracks.)
5. Pour the wax and leave them to set
Once the wax hits 145F, pour it immediately into your jar(s). Then let them sit – ideally overnight – before disturbing them at all.
6. Trim wicks and allow to cure
You can trim the wicks to about ¼ inch after the candles have set, but in order to get the best throw (that’s the strongest smell), you want to leave them to cure for 1-2 weeks before actually burning.
And that, my friends, is it! Waiting 1-2 weeks to burn the candles is the hardest part in my opinion because these guys just smell sooooo good. I created my own labels using my printer and simple blank Avery labels, but you totally don’t have to do this if you prefer not to.
Tell me… are you making any handmade gifts for the holidays?