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BASIC CANDLEMAKING INSTRUCTIONS
written by Robin Stewart

We get so many requests from new candlemakers on how to make candles that we decided to add this page to our site!  Hopefully, you will find it informative. These instructions assume you have already decided on the type of container you want to use and the proper wick(s) to use.

PARAFFIN CONTAINER CANDLES:

These instructions are based on using IGI 4786 pre-blended container wax. 

First, you must attach your wick to the bottom of your container.  Some people like to use hot glue to do this, but I've found that when you use this method and pre-heat your jars (a must in order to avoid white "jump lines"!), the glue will melt and your wick will move.  What I like to use is a product called "GE Silicone Bathroom & Kitchen Sealer" which can be bought at any hardware store.  Once cured (overnight), this product will not soften and your wick is firmly secured to your glass.  Put a small amount of the sealer on the bottom of the tab and using an ice-pick or screw-driver, firmly push it into the bottom of the jar.  With the silicone sealer, you must let it sit overnight in order for it to cure. 

Once the sealer has cured, you need to use something to keep your wick centered and taut during the pouring process.  What I like to use is a popsicle stick (these can be bought at any hobby store) with a hole drilled through the center of it.  Thread your wick through the drilled hole in the stick and wrap the excess wick around the stick.  Then, take a wooden clothespin and clip it around the excess wick which you have wrapped around the popsicle stick. 

Next, melt your wax.  We recommend that you melt the wax in a Presto Kitchen Kettle which can be bought at discount stores like Target or Wal-Mart for around $20.00.  These pots will hold approximately 7 or 8 pounds of wax.  You want the temperature of the wax to be around 160 when you pour into the containers.  Use a candy thermometer to measure the temperature of the wax.

Next, pre-heat your jars in a 150 oven for at least 10 minutes.  Once the wax has completely melted, transfer the melted wax to your pouring pot, using a large ladle, then add your color.  We like to use the liquid color because you get consistent color batches this way.  Start out using 1 drop of color at a time because it is very concentrated.  Keep adding drops until you achieve the color you want.  When your wax has cooled to 160, add your fragrance oil (an ounce of fragrance oil per pound of wax is a good rule of thumb, although you can use more or less, depending on the fragrance load you want).  Stir for about 30 seconds.  Be sure to melt enough wax to have some left over to do your re-pour the next day.  Then, remove your jar from the oven and pour the melted wax into it.  When the wax has firmed up some (30 minutes or so), take an ice pick or skewer and poke relief holes around the wick.  This is important because it releases any air pockets that may have formed around the wick.  Then, let the candles cool overnight.  If try to re-pour before the candles have cooled for at least 8 hours, you will have to do more than one re-pour.  

The next day, re-heat the left-over wax to about 165 and top your candles off and let them cool completely.  I then like to take a torch or heat gun to smooth the tops of the candles, but this isn't absolutely necessary.  You are now ready to put a label on your candle and enjoy it!  Remember, though, that candles should cure for several days after they are made in order to achieve the best scent throw.

VOTIVE CANDLES:

These instructions are based on using IGI 4794 pre-blended votive wax. 

We like to use the 34/40 SPZ wicks with the 32 mm tabs in our votives because they make centering easier.  Some people use a mold release (or a non-stick cooking spray like PAM!), but we have found that it really isn't necessary if your molds are clean.  Put your wick in the votive mold and center it.  Next, melt your votive wax in the Presto Kitchen Kettle (be sure to melt enough wax to have some left over to do your re-pour).  When it is completely melted, add your color and stir well.  When the temperature has reached about 175,  add your fragrance oil and stir for about 30 seconds.  With the wax temperature at about 170, pour into the votive molds.  When the wax has set up some (about 10-15 minutes), poke relief holes around the wick and re-center the wick, if necessary.  When the votives have cooled completely (about 4 hours), re-heat your left over wax to about 180 and then do your re-pour.  Once the votives have cooled completely, remove them from the molds and enjoy!  Again, it is best to let your candles cure for several days in order to achieve the best scent throw.

GEL CANDLES:

These instructions are based on the candlemaker using Penreco medium density gel.

Gels are a little trickier to make than paraffin candles so don't get discouraged if your first ones aren't what you expected!  The nice thing about gels, though, is that you don't have to pre-heat your jars and you don't have to do a re-pour!

First, secure your wicks in your containers using the method explained in the "Paraffin Container Candles" instructions above.  When they have cured, center the wick as described above.

Next, melt the gel in a Presto Kitchen Kettle to around 205-220 (your gel will melt faster if you put the lid on the pot).  When the gel has completely melted, add liquid color.  Because you want your gels to be transparent, it is best to use a toothpick  which has been dipped into the liquid color, then swirl it around in the melted gel. Add no more than 3/4 oz of a gel-safe fragrance oil per pound of gel, at about 215 and stir like crazy to make sure the fragrance oil mixes well with the gel.  The temperature you pour the gel at will determine the amount of bubbles you get.  The hotter you pour, the fewer the bubbles, although you must not pour any hotter than 220.   If there are more bubbles than you would like after you pour, take a heat gun or torch and lightly go over the tops of the gel candles, being careful not to get the gel too hot.

Suspending items in your gel (non-flammable items only!) can be tricky because timing is critical.  You must wait until the gel has set up some, then using a skewer, push the items down into the gel.   

To make fruit salad type gels, pack wax embeds into your jar, making sure to get them close to the sides of the jar.  You can dip the wax pieces in cool gel first (about 180) and then hold them in place in your jar by using a chunk of un-melted gel.  Once you have your wax pieces placed in the jar where you want them, simply pour clear or very lightly colored gel into the jar.  Be sure to pour close to the wick, rather than over the wax pieces, so as not to melt the wax.  I like to pour the gel around 185-190.  Once the gel has completely cooled, your gel candle is ready to enjoy!

When making gel candles, it is CRITICAL that you use a fragrance oil that is gel safe.  Please see the Penreco Safety Bulletin on our Gel Page for information on the fragrance oils to use in gels.  For more in depth gel safety info, see www.GelCandlemaking.com

We hope you have found these instructions informative.  Remember, when making candles of any type, you are working with flammable products!  NEVER leave melting wax or gel unattended!  We also don't recommend that you make candles around small children as they can pull over a pot of melted wax which could harm them greatly!

Good luck and happy candlemaking!

 


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