Making new candles from worn-out candles is an easy upcycle activity that can save you money and help you prepare for an unexpected power outage. They even make great gifts! Here’s how I make new candles from old ones.
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This simple project is a good one to save for rainy days, snow days, or other times when you or the kiddos are stuck inside. In addition to just being fun, homemade candles are an alternative source of light in the event of a power outage.
Save Worn-Out Candles
Keep old candles separated by the type of wax they are made of: petroleum wax, bees wax, palm wax or soy wax, for example. The different waxes generally do not mix well.
We had a box of soy wax candles leftover from our wedding that were part of the centerpieces at the reception tables. Most of the candles were only half-burned at the wedding, and we slowly made our way through using them in the following few years.
We can give spent candles new life and keep from sending a useful resource to the landfill at the same time. The homemade candles–using leftover wax from our wedding reception candles–have made nice gifts to family members who celebrated that special day with us.
If you’re interested in finding other ways to use old candles, this article has some good ideas.
There’s only one thing you’ll need besides the wax, and that is candle wicks. This is likely the only thing you’ll need to buy. We purchased a 12-pack of 3-inch wicks from Michael’s, which come with the anchors already attached. Easy-peasy. If you don’t have a craft store nearby, you can buy wicks cheaply online.
Any glass, metal, or ceramic container will do, as long as the size of the container is appropriate for the size of the wick. We saved old containers that store-bought candles came in, and we had a plethora of 4-oz mason jars all of which fit the size of a 3-inch wick. (If the wick is too tall, you can cut it back after the candles are set.)
Although we didn’t make pillar candles, molds are available to do so. If you plan on making candles regularly, this might be a good investment. You’ll need to buy longer wicks and anchors separately and attach them yourself.
The cost of making our new candles was 50 cents per candle since the only thing we had to buy was the wicks.
- Old candle wax with old wicks, anchors, and other debris cut out and discarded
- Double boiler or 2 medium-sized pots that nest together*
- 3-inch or 6-inch wicks
- Glass, Ceramic, or Metal Containers: The 3-inch wick should clear the top when set in the bottom of the container. We used 4-oz mason jars.
- 1-2 pens, pencils, sticks or skewers per container
*Soy wax is washable, so we used a regular pot in which to melt the wax. If using petroleum-based wax, you may want to use an old coffee container to melt the wax in, so as not to ruin a pot.
In the larger of the two pots, fill water about halfway and bring to a simmer on the stovetop. You’ll notice that our pots don’t nest together, so we improvised by putting a measuring cup in the bottom for the smaller pot to sit on.
Once the water is simmering, add the wax to the top pot. One of the resources we consulted said to heat the wax to 185 degrees, so we used our candy thermometer to check the temp. Without wanting to get the thermometer covered in wax though, we stuck it in the water instead.
I didn’t think this step was necessary. Just heat the water to a simmer (not a boil) and if the wax is melting, then it’s hot enough!
While the wax is melting, spread newspaper on the counter next to the stove. Set out your containers and set a wick in each.
Once the wax is melted, dip each anchor in the wax and set it back down carefully in the center of the container. Within a minute, it will have solidified in place.
Now fill each container with melted wax to 1/4″ from the top, reserving a little bit of melted wax in the pot. Place a pencil or stick on top of the container to keep the wick center and straight up. Let the newly poured candles cool and solidify.
After about an hour, you may notice that a “well”, or depression, has formed around the wick. This is normal. Use the reserved melted wax to fill in the wells. Let cool again.
Mr. TAF decided to experiment by filling an 8-oz mason jar with wax, even though the 3-inch wick was not tall enough to clear the top of the jar.
We discovered that while this candle may not last as long as the others (eventually the wax may submerge the wick), as it is now, it is a nice emergency candle to have in the bedroom because you can walk with the jar and the flame stays inside and therefore flickers less.
Cut the wick to 1/8″ tall above the wax. Voila! New candles!
Have you made your own candles? What process did you use?
This post was shared at Wildcrafting Wednesday.