Yes, I love candles. Sooooo much.
No, I don’t go to that candle store in the mall, nor do I want to be part of your Scentsy pyramid scheme.
I have enough candles in my house to ride out any Indiana storm. I have enough candles in my bedroom to set the mood for every romantic evening all year. My candles don’t smell like chocolate chip cookies or pine forests, but they do smell lightly sweet, like honey, and they don’t release smoke, suet, or any toxins at all, because they’re made simply, from beeswax, candle wicking, and upcycled bottles cut to size.
Want to set yourself up with your own year’s worth of romantic evenings and snug-inside-and-safe-from-the-storm weekends? Here’s how!
You will need:
glass bottle cut to size. To learn how to cut down a glass bottle to the perfect size for a container candle, check out my tutorial on cutting glass bottles with a Dremel.
beeswax. You’ll want enough to fill your container almost to the rim. Rather than buy beeswax pellets in big-box craft stores, I like to look for beeswax sold by beekeepers. You can often find them at your local farmer’s market, or in their own online stores.
wicking. The width of wicking that you need depends on the container, the wax, and the respective locations of Mars and Jupiter, for all I can tell–it is NOT simple to figure out. Here’s a great article that discusses the complexities of candle wicks and how they burn. The wicking recommended for the diameter of your container and the type of wax you’ll be using is a good starting point, but make just one candle at first, and then give it a test burn, because even the recommendation is not a guaranteed fit.
hot glue gun and hot glue, and a pencil and tape.
1. Melt the beeswax. Melt beeswax in a double boiler or a crock pot (I have a super cheap thrifted one that I use only for craft projects). Be mindful not to let the beeswax get too hot or heat it for too long, or it will brown. It won’t affect the wax’s function, but it can get pretty dark.
2. Prepare your glass bottle. You should have already cut it to size and sanded the edges down; now make sure that it’s squeaky clean inside and out. This is also a good time to cover your entire work surface with wax paper or aluminum foil.
Mark the exact bottom center of your bottle. If the bottle is clear, I like to trace the bottle’s bottom on a piece of white paper, then measure and mark the exact center of that circle. I place the bottle on top of the circle, and I can see the mark through it.
If your bottle isn’t clear, lightly mark the inside bottom center of the bottle with a paint pen or metallic Sharpie.
3. Adhere the wick to the bottom of the bottle. Squeeze a generous dollop of hot glue onto the end of your uncut wick, then use the pencil to help you push it down into the bottle, onto the center mark. Hold it until the hot glue sets. When it’s secure, wrap excess wick around a pencil, then tape it to the side of the glass bottle to keep it taut and out of the way:
If you’d like, you can dip the wick into melted beeswax first, and when the wax hardens, it will coat the wick and make it easier to keep it straight.
4. Pour the wax. If your melting pot is small enough, you could pour directly from it into the glass container, but I use a ladle:
Stop pouring about a half-inch below the ultimate fill line for your candle. Let that wax harden, then top off the candle. This will cover up any cracks in the surface of the candle that were made when the wax cooled and shrank.
5. Complete the finishing touches. When your candle is completely filled and cooled, trim the wick to about a quarter-inch above the surface of the candle. If you’ve spilled wax on the outside of the glass container, use a hair dryer or heat embossing gun to melt the wax, then wipe it off. If your container is very curvy, like my Coca-Cola bottles, you may find that the wax has shrunk in ways that leave visible gaps against the walls of the bottle. Using the hair dryer on the outside of the bottle will melt the wax just on the other side, allowing it to settle more neatly.
Burn your candle responsibly, and it will give you hours upon hours of beautiful light. And when the candle is finally burned down, simply boil off the excess wax and make it into a new candle!