Many of the pricey candles sold in stores contain paraffin wax and artificial fragrances. A petroleum byproduct, paraffin may emit potentially toxic chemicals when heated. Just a guess here, but “benzene cloud” is probably not the ambiance you’re hoping to create in your home.
Fortunately, there are healthy, all-natural alternatives to paraffin wax, and you can use them to make your own fragrant, high-quality candles. Not only do DIY candles burn just as bright as their commercial counterparts, they cost a fraction of the price!
Gathering your supplies
Making your own candles is fairly easy. The entire process typically takes just a couple of hours. Here, we’re going to focus on Mason jar candles because they don’t require specialized tools or molds.
Before you embark on your candle making journey, gather the following supplies:
Half pound of wax (per candle): Choose either beeswax, which has its own subtle scent, and is less expensive soy, which generally accepts added fragrance more easily. Candle wax is usually sold in pellet form, but if you happen to buy a block of wax, chop it into small pieces before melting.
Large wick(s): Candle wicks are generally available in small, medium and large sizes, but large tends to work best for Mason jar candles.
100 Percent Pure Essential oils: These are key to creating your desired aroma and atmosphere. And because they’re in their pure, organic form, these oils won’t leach potentially hazardous chemicals into your home when heated. Choose relaxing lavender, invigorating peppermint, cheerful orange or any other scent that speaks to you!
Add-ins: We’re talking herbs, dried flowers, twigs and any other decorative elements you’d like to incorporate in your homemade candle(s).
Double boiler: Warning: Do not attempt to melt the wax directly in a pot as the flame is simply too hot.
Mason jar(s): Reuse jars from jellies, pickles, tahini, nut butters and sauces or purchase them at your local craft store.
Other odds and ends: Also grab a thermometer (for taking the temperature of the wax), a spatula (for mixing the wax as it melts), paper towels or rags (for prepping your workspace) and some pens (for securing the wicks).
Chandlery (a.k.a. Candle Making) 101
Follow these simple steps to make eye-catching, aromatic Mason jar candles for your home—or to give to friends and family members!
- Prep work space: Line your counter with paper towels or rags to protect it from hot wax, and set your other supplies within easy reach.
- Melt wax: Remember, you will need to melt a half pound of wax for each mason jar candle. Be sure to add a decent amount of water to the bottom pan. Stir the wax with the spatula during melting, breaking up any large chunks. Melt for 10 to 15 minutes at 160 to 170 degrees F. If the temp exceeds 170 degrees F, remove the pot from the heat.
- Stick your wick: Find the metal tab on your wick and dip it into the (liquid) wax as it melts. Then adhere the hot wax on the wick to the bottom of your jar. Be sure to act fast as wax cools and hardens rather quickly!
- Add fragrance and flare: When your wax is melted, stir in your essential oil and add-ins. Directions on the product packaging will often include how much oil to add. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes until it reaches between 130 and 140 degrees F.
- Pour and secure: Now you’re ready to transfer your wax to the jar. Gently hold the wick in place in the center of the jar and pour most, but not all, of the wax in. Next, rest your pen across the top of the jar and gently flop the top of the wick over it.
- Cool and complete: Let your candle cool for a few hours. At this point, you might notice a small depression in the center. Reheat the remaining wax and use it to top off your candle. Allow the candle to dry once more, and trim your wick so it extends approximately one-quarter of an inch past the wax.