Wax On, Wax Off: A Guide To Candle Making At Home

Draping a negligee over the lamp or employing pink bulbs will both cast you in a flattering light, but for the most forgiving glow, nothing works like a candle. That soft flicker softens stressed features while creating a sultry ambience. (Not to mention cutting utility bills.) Lest you go bankrupt stocking up on Diptyque, try your hand at making your own.

Supplies from home:

  • pots
  • serrated kitchen knife
  • disposable aluminum pans
  • baking sheet (disposable works fine)
  • pencils or skewers
  • pot holders
  • cooking spray
  • recycled container

Supplies from the craft store:

  • paraffin
  • tab ended wicks
  • hot glue gun
  • dye (optional)
  • fragranced oil (optional)

Step-by-Step Pillar Candles

1. Melt Wax

Add two inches of water to a large pot and bring to boil. Lower the heat to a simmer. Carefully place a disposable pie pan in the pot, or rest it’s lip on the pot edges if sizes are compatible. (Use a double boiler if you have one, but don’t risk having to scrape wax from your expensive cookware.) Cut a chunk from the paraffin block and set in the top pan to melt.

As the wax liquefies, add fragrance first, then color. For uniform color, wait to add dye until the wax is completely melted. For a marbled effect, add dye after the wax is soft. You only need a couple of drops of each!

2. Prepare Molds

Choose your mold from household containers: empty paper milk cartons, orange juice or soup cans, or make filled candles with glass jelly jars. Tab-ended wicks will have a little aluminum circle on one end with which to secure to the bottom of the mold. Hot glue the tab to the bottom of your chosen container.

Pull the wick taut and wrap the other end around a skewer. Rest the skewer on the top of the mold. This will keep the wick from falling crooked as you pour. Spray the interior of the mold lightly with non-stick cooking spray.

3. Pour

Place the mold on wax paper or a baking sheet to catch any drips. Carefully lift the top pan and pour the wax into the prepared mold, taking care to keep some wax aside. Leave a half inch space at the top of the mold. Allow the wax to cool a bit. As the surface solidifies, poke a few relief holes around the wick to allow for venting. This keeps air pockets from forming in the candle. Pour remaining wax into the relief holes to fill.

4: Release

Wait until the wax is completely cool before removing the candle. Tap the mold gently to release. Set the candle down and check for a even bottom. Cut the candle level and trim the wick to ΒΌ inch. Enjoy your new craft!

Ice Pillars

Follow the above instructions using a paper milk carton with the top removed as your mold. Before pouring, overfill the carton with ice cubes. After you pour, you will not need to poke relief holes. As the ice melts, it will leave cavities in the candle and create a lacey or Swiss cheese effect. Very cool.


For special effects, add pre-cut wax chunks to your mold. Prep a cooking sheet with non-stick spray, and pour a thin layer of wax. After it cools, cut out shapes with a cookie cutter or kitchen knife. Fill the mold with these pieces before the pour, or use a little melted wax to adhere funky shapes to the outside of your finished candle.

Safety Tips

Be a responsible little crafter! Never leave melting wax unattended, and don’t let your double boiler run dry. Your pouring pan or pot should not come in direct contact with the heat source. Enlist the help of friends for the pour.

If you do happen to get wax on your new carpet, fret not. Let the wax cool and cover the spot with an old washcloth. Press the cloth with a warm iron. The wax will melt and be absorbed by the terrycloth. Repeat until spotless.

Happy crafting!