I had never made scented candles, or any candles, for that matter, before I started this project. And I'm not going to lie, it was a learning curve. But I'm so happy with the results and I was surprised by the lack of mess. I was imagining having to explain to my husband that the wax on the granite really was there to stay, but it just wiped right off with a warm damp cloth.
Making candles also worked out cheaper than buying scented candles. Although the upfront costs are higher than one scented candle I made 12 candles and still have half a bag of wax, loads of essential oils and a tonne of wicks left. They make great gifts and would be awesome wedding favours. They're also fairly quick to make once you've worked out how to do it.
I spent quite a bit of time researching wax and discovered that soy wax is not only natural and nasty-chemical free, it's also the best wax for using with essential oils. I decided to use essential oils rather than a synthetic fragrance oil (which have a stronger scent) because I wanted something very natural and not too over powering.
What I didn't spend a lot of time researching was wicks. Let's talk about wicks people. Now don't go buying yourself just any old candle wick. It won't work out too well for you if you do. I spent more time than I'd like to remember trying to get my wick to stick to the bottom of the jar with wax and then winding it around a pencil to get it to sit straight.
There was swearing and foot stomping before I googled and discovered tabbed votive wicks. These come coated in wax so they stand straight and have a metal tab at the bottom (like the ones on tea light wicks) to help you stand them in your container - much less stressful. If anyone is in the market for standard candle wick I have a reel of it in need of a new home!
Anyway, to make your own scented candles you will need:
Soy wax - I got mine here Tabbed votive wicks - hereEssential oils - I used Palmarosa and Geranium for a lovely rose scent A selection of containers - I used jars, but you could use tea cups, pretty votives or anything you like that can take the heat A sauce pan A funnel A glue gun - not essential but it helps.
Put your jar on a set of scales and reset them back to zero, then fill your jar with wax flakes. I found that my jars need double the weight of wax flakes to fill them with melted wax. Measure out the wax you need for your first batch of candles. I did four candles at a time using a small saucepan.
Next you need to secure your tabbed wick in your jar. I tried doing this with wax, but if I'd have thought about it for a moment I would have realised that the hot wax I would be pouring into the jar would melt that wax again and the wick would be loose. I had to start again. The quickest and easiest method is to use a glue gun to stick down your wicks. Let the glue set for 10 minutes before you pour in the hot wax though, or the glue melts like the wax did. If you don't have a glue gun you can add your wick later in the process, so bear with me.
Gently heat the wax on the stove top over a medium flame. Keep a close eye on it - wax can catch alight if you overheat it. I used a wooden spoon to stir the wax every now and again to break up larger clumps.
When wax has melted let it cool for a couple of minutes before you add the essential oils. I used 20 drops of each oil in a four candle batch of wax. My candles ended up with quite a subtle rose scent, so in future I might be tempted to double up on the drops of oil for something longer lasting. If you're using different scents do a test batch because all essential oils have a different intensities. Stir well.
I used a funnel to pour my wax into my jars because it seemed to stop it splashing up the sides of the jars and made it easier to pour without spilling any. Leave them to set.
If you don't have a glue gun and haven't put your wicks in yet wait until the wax turns opaque (like the picture above). As it cools it starts to thicken which means it naturally holds the wick in place. If you put the wick in and it still falls over or floats leave it another few minutes and try again. To fully set your candles you need to leave them over night.
Trim the wicks. Then sit back, feel a bit smug because you're the sort of person who makes their own candles, light a couple and enjoy them. Or you could add a tag and a little flower and give them as a gift or use them as wedding favours.