Making candles is a fun and rewarding hobby. They’re great for gifts and they make a good conversation piece around the house. Also, I’ve found that store-bought candles are too scented for my taste — this candle recipe makes for a lightly coffee-scented candle. Combined with the progressive color technique (described in this tutorial) you’ll have a candle that is visually stunning and especially pleasant for your home.
- 1 lb. candle wax (makes 1 candle)
- Coffee-scented candle oil (you may have to order this over the Internet)
- Candle mold release (spray can available at your local craft store)
- Candle wick: for a 3-inch diameter candle, buy a medium-gauge bleached wick taller than the height of the candle mold.
- Chopsticks or skewer sticks (to secure the wick in an upright position)
- Candle mold or recycled milk carton (used as a candle mold)
- Candle thermometer (optional). This is not truly necessary for this simple candle recipe, but more advanced candle techniques require precise temperatures. Candle thermometers run between $4-$8
- Medium-size pot or pan (used for bottom of a double broiler)
- Medium-size coffee can, candy can, or old pot (used for melting the wax as the top part of the double broiler)
- Aluminum foil
- Cookie Sheet
- Big box of Baking Soda and/or a large lid (in case of fire emergency)
Cover the cookie sheet with aluminum foil, set aside. If you decide to use a recycled milk or juice carton, use a half-gallon size, or smaller, then cut off the top part of the carton. Clean and dry your candle mold thoroughly. Take it outside to a ventilated area, then spray the candle mold release into the candle mold or recycled milk carton.
Threading the wick
Thread the wick through the hole at the bottom of the store-bought candle mold. Tie the wick to a screw, thread the wick through, then seal off the opening at the bottom, underside of the mold using tape or putty-like clay. If using a recycled milk carton, get a screw, then push the screw through the bottom of the carton. Thread the wick, then use tape to secure the screw in place. I found that the base of the store-bought candle mold candle was very even and prettier than the other open end. Thus, you may want to keep some extra wick on both ends of the candle, in case you decide to display it “upside down” as in the case of the progressive color candle technique (described later.) Tie the other end of the wick to the stick, then make sure that it is taut. The stick should hang over the sides of the candle mold to ensure that the wick will not accidentally fall into the candle.
Place the molds onto the covered cookie sheet.
Prepare the molds
Set up your double boiler: Put water into the large pot, then place another pan inside, not immersed by the water. Start boiling the water. While the water is heating, cut the block of candle wax into smaller chunks. Place the chunks into the top pan of the double boiler. Once the water begins to boil, lower the heat enough so that the water is at a low, continuous boil, but not a ferocious roiling boil. The wax will begin to melt. When all the wax is melted (and appears like clear liquid), the wax will be around 200 degrees.
The wax should stay around 200 degrees for this candle technique. The wax should never exceed 260. At 300 degrees, the wax may catch on fire. If it does, use baking soda to put out the flame or smother the flame with a large lid. Water will not work and may worsen the fire.
At 200 degrees, you may add any wax coloring or candle fragrance that you desire. For the purposes of this candle, I added about 1/4 ounce of Coffee candle fragrance to both candles; I added 1/8 of a brown, candle color package. Stir these in quickly, allowing the color and fragrance to be completely integrated into the wax.
The heated, colored wax
Wearing oven mitts, remove the wax from the stovetop, then slowly pour a portion of the wax into the candle mold. Tipping the candle mold while pouring is recommended, but not necessary. You may end up with some pit marks in the candle if it is not tipped, but the candle should burn without any problems. Save some wax (about an ounce) in order to fill the well.
Pour the wax
Don’t make the same mistake as me!
Originally, I thought that adding coffee beans throughout the candle would be a great idea. Boy, was I wrong. If you add the coffee beans inside the candle, they eventually catch fire and cause a lot of smoke. This is undoubtedly a fire hazard and the smoke of coffee beans turned into charcoal is quite malodorous.
Don’t try this at home
Progressive Color Technique
One technique is gradually adding more color to the wax as you add layers. This will create the effect of a candle that is lighter in color at one end and darker at another. This works especially well in store-bought molds where the top of the candle can be from the base of the mold.
To do this, allow a few minutes for the candle wax at the top to cool off and form a platform on which you can pour another layer of wax. During the time that you are doing these layers, it will be necessary to reheat the wax. Save some wax (about an ounce) in order to fill the well.
Light color layer
About 45 minutes after the final layer was poured, an indentation will form in the candle near the wick. Use a chopstick to poke around this area a couple of times in order to release any trapped air bubbles. This is “the well” and it must be filled with a little more wax in order to ensure that the candle wick won’t burn faster than the surrounding wax. Heat the wax for the well and fill the well. Some people do this a couple of times, but I found that once was fine for my candles. You may not use all of the ounce of wax, but that will ensure that you have enough to complete this task.
Let it Be
Let the candle sit about 12 hours in a cool location before attempting to remove it from the mold. For a store-bought mold: unscrew the bottom of the wick, then turn the mold upside down. It should fly right out of the mold, provided that enough candle mold release was used. For milk carton candle molds: simply tear off the milk carton.
Trim the Wick
Decide which end of your candle is the top, and which is the bottom. Trim the wick accordingly: 1/8 inch extra wick. Voila.