I renew my obsession with candles every autumn. Coziness is crucial to my cold-weather happiness, and, along with spiked cider, my weighted blanket, and every book in the house, softly-glowing candles do their part to keep me feeling happy and cozy.
I own my fair share of purchased candles (it’s by far the most expedient way to make my house smell like Sherlock’s study), but my favorites are my own homemade candles. They range from candles poured into thrifted tea cups and vintage Coca-Cola bottles, to candles dyed with soy crayons and made in molds, to the rolled beeswax candles in sizes that fit my grandmother’s brass candlesticks or my kids’ birthday cakes.
The thing that I like the most about homemade candles is the ability to choose my ingredients. I am a hardcore beeswax aficionado and I love nothing more than a 100% beeswax candle that makes the whole room smell sweet like honey. Those of you who prefer soy wax do a little better finding your preferred candles in stores, but most often all of our favorite natural materials, unless the candle’s label says otherwise, are cut with that dreaded paraffin before being artificially scented and put on store shelves.
It’s far easier to find candles made with your favorite materials online, and I love to buy from indie makers. I mean, sometimes I also want my house to smell like the Shire! The carbon footprint from shipping is dire, however, and I like to reserve my shipping guilt for stuff that I absolutely can’t DIY or buy local.
If you have a local candlemaker who makes candles you love from natural ingredients, you’re living the dream! Also, where do you live and can I come live there, too?
This is probably my beeswax obsession speaking, and you soy wax fans are a little out of luck here, but I also really love my homemade candles because I can make them from mostly local ingredients. I’ve got a couple of favorite honey farms nearby to source beeswax from, and I score all the vintage soda bottles for my poured container candles from an old dump site in the back of my woods.
One of the many joys of living in the country is random old dump sites! Those and the disused limestone quarries and railroad bridges to explore completely make up for the occasional terrifying sinkhole.
So many types of candles are so easy to make, and so easy to customize in cool ways.
Poured Container Candles
Poured candles are a great way to upcycle all kinds of containers. You can also use any wax that you prefer for these, although it can be a bit of a trick to correctly match your wick size with the diameter of the container AND the wax’s composition. Don’t be afraid to do melt tests first!
An easy way to upcycle a container is to melt the remaining wax out of your favorite jarred candle, put in a new wick, then refill it with your favorite candlewax. If you’re handy with a Dremel, you can also cut down your favorite bottle, sand the edges smooth, and DIY your own container candle in it.
If you don’t want the trouble of putting on your safety goggles to cut glass, you can make lovely poured candles in thrifted teacups, jam jars, and any other containers that you’re confident will stand up to the heat. Check out these cute candles made in tiny ramekins!
Need a seasonal candle? The container for this candle is an orange peel!
Candles Poured into a Mold
This is one of the less eco-friendly handmade options here, because some of the best and easiest to use candle molds are made from silicone. Silicone molds are especially great for recreating fiddly, small details, so save them for those shapes and use metal molds for everything else. Martha Stewart even uses a metal mini muffin tin to make floating candles!
You don’t have to give up on pretty colors when you make homemade candles. You can buy candle colorants, or you can do what I do when I want a little color: I add a little bit of crayon to my melted wax! Yes, it’s definitely giving up on a 100% natural product when you pop a paraffin-filled Crayola into the wax pot, but the colors are super fun for a special occasion.
A crock pot and a portable drying rack allow you a modern take on the ubiquitous pioneer craft of hand-dipped candles. It’s a lot easier than you think it is! The beauty of hand-dipped candles is the way that they’re SUPPOSED to look wonky, so there’s no way to go wrong.
You can dip an otherwise finished candle into melted wax that you’ve tinted a cool color for a dip-dyed effect.
These candles are only for the beeswax crafters, because beeswax is the only wax that I’ve ever seen used to make the honeycomb sheets. If you ever experiment with different waxes in the honeycomb sheet mold, let me know how it goes!
Rolled beeswax candles are so easy to make that even little kids can do it, and rolling candles is a great rainy day family activity.
And here’s how to make your candles heart-shaped!
Whether you’re rolling beeswax candles with kids or pouring a multi-color, multi-layer jarred candle, homemade candles give you the power to fill your home with exactly the sensory experiences you want, with no mysteries and nothing unexpected.