> TEOTWAWKI Blog: DIY Survival Candles

2/1/12

DIY Survival Candles


Candles are an easy-to-use source of emergency lighting and a little bit of heat. I'm shocked to see some of the prices that are charged for long burning candles sold for survival or emergency preparedness - if you want to buy a dozen or so candles, the cost really starts to add up.

Never fear! You can make your own survival candles at home for cheap, using high-quality, long burning soy wax. It's an easy project - the materials are easy to buy and you won't need any specialized tools.


The materials you will need are:
  • Soy wax flakes. These are commonly used in making scented candles and are sold in craft stores or Amazon. I bought a 5 pound bag from Amazon for 12.79 shipped - right here. A pound of wax will fill around a 24 ounce container, give or take. You can use other wax, but soy is affordable, typically has a longer burn time than other waxes and has some other beneficial qualities (all-natural, renewable, etc.).
  • Canning jars. I purchased a dozen 8 ounce jars from Wal Mart for around $8. If you have jars around the house, no need to buy 'em. We've used jars from jams, sauces and so on for candles in the past.
  • Wicks and Tabs. You can find these on Amazon, eBay and at your craft stores. You'll want your wicks to be a bit longer than your candle holder is tall. I have 100 tabs and 100 nine inch wicks on eBay for about $10 total.
The tools you will need are:


  • Scissors: For cutting the wicks to size
  • Double Boiler: For melting the wax. I don't have an actual double boiler, so I just get a large pot, fill it about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way with water, and then nest a slightly smaller pot inside.
  • A Pouring Device: I just used a pyrex measuring cup. 
  • Protective Gloves: We'll be using boiling water and hot wax, so you want to keep you hands safe.
The steps are simple.

First, you'll want to get your wicks ready. If your wicks are way too long for your container, you'll want to trim them down to approximate size. I had 9" wicks here. Insert the wick into the tab - I found it helpful to use my Leathman to "tighten" the mouth of the tab around the wick, but it's not a must. If you buy pre-tabbed wicks then you can skip this part.


Put your wicks in the jars. Don't worry if they're not centered - we'll fix that after we pour the wax. Now it's meltin' time!

This is my "double boiler." Works well enough. Using a double boiler helps melt the wax gently, avoiding risk of it catching fire, burning, etc. You could probably do it without, but it's not hard to improvise so why not?


Here are the flakes beginning to melt.


And now fully melted.


Carefully transfer the melted wax into your pouring container. Then, pour away! Don't worry about the container - soy wax is all natural, non-toxic and cleans up fairly easily. Beware if you have a soy allergy, though.

Don't fill the jar up the whole way - leave some room between the wax and the top of the container. You'll want to center the wicks at this point. Then, take a break and let the wax cool and harden up. Almost done!


Last step. After the wax has cooled, trim the wicks as needed--you want the wick to be about 1/4" above the wax. Then, screw the lids on and you're ready for storage!

While some advertise 70+ hours of burn time for 8 ounce candles like this, they're more in the ballpark of 40 to 50 hours, and you'll get the most life out of them if you burn the candles four hours at a time. Since you would only use the candle for about 4 hours every evening, a single candle should last for around 10 days of regular use. Not bad! You can of course use different sized jars--bigger for longer burn time, or multiple wicks for more light.

Including the purchase of new jars, my cost per candle is around $1.62. With recycled jars, it's under a dollar.

These aren't crap materials, either--these are the same quality of materials use for high-end aromatherapy candles that sell for $20 a pop. Another plus - the combination of soy wax's lower melting point and the protective glass jar make this a safer source of light when compared to other candles, oil lanterns and so on.

One modification that I plan to make it to include a booklet of matches inside of each jar - cheap and makes sure you've got a way to light the candle if it's pulled out of storage during a power outage, etc.

Anyways, give it a shot and let us know how it goes! Have fun!

EDIT: Thanks to all of the Pinners who have helped share these instructions. Please do not copy/paste this to your website and claim it for your own. Give credit where it is due.

6/5: Check out our new how-to for making beeswax survival candles!

177 comments :

  1. Awesome how-to Mr Wolf. You even know the burn-time which is a fantastic detail.

    Craig Meade
    Pioneerhandbooks.blogspot.com

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  2. Excellent write up!

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  3. Great post! here are some tips for a "cheap" prepper too:

    My wife is a teacher, and has, over the years, accumulated what seems like a ton of broken and used crayons. A majority of these are made from soy wax (with a colorant added). These can be a ready source of literally "free" wax, as they are for us. Just have your free labor force (in my case the kids) peel the paper covering off each one before melting. SAVE THIS PAPER, it makes an excellent addition to home made "wax cup" fire starter/tinder (paper egg cartons with each depression stuffed with lint, paper and/or pencil shavings. Hot wax is poured into each cup and allowed to solidify. Cut each cup our and you have a waterproof, highly transportable fire starting fuel. Just break chunks off with a knife, set in your tinder and light).

    Wicks can be made by soaking cotton string in a borax, salt, & water solution, and the very wax you are melting for candles.

    Making regular cotton candle wicks is simple. You’ll just need some salt, borax, water, candle wax, and cotton string, yarn, or twine. You can usually find borax in the laundry detergent aisle of your grocery store. Some people use it to make their own laundry soap. You can vary the width of the string you use to make your wick in order to get wicks of different diameters.

    1. You’ll need to make a solution to dip the string in to make it into a wick. Mix 2 tablespoons of regular table salt, with 4 tablespoons of borax, and then dissolve that mixture in 1 ½ cups of warm water.

    2. Drop a string into the mixture and leave it there for 15 minutes. If you’re not sure how much string to use, measure your candle mold and add about 3 inches to your measurement. That’s how long you’ll want your wick to be.

    3 .Pull the string out of the mixture and hang it up to dry. A clothesline and clothespins work perfectly for this.

    4. After the wick is completely dry, melt some wax in a double boiler and dip the wick into it. Make sure the wick is completely saturated with wax before you take it out. You’ll need to use either a pair of tweezers or a paper clip to dip the wick into the wax so you don’t burn yourself.

    5. Pull the wick out of the melted wax and give the wax a few moments to cool enough so you can safely touch the wick. Then grab both ends of the wick and pull it tight.

    6. Lay the primed wick out flat on a piece of wax paper to dry. Make sure it’s stretched out when you lay it down so you’ll have a nice straight wick when it’s time to put it into a candle.

    Using two hands, you can hold the wick (or wicks if you have a mind to make multi-wick candles) upright in your candle "container" as you pour the melted wax in. If you make the wick slightly longer than you need, you can tie a loop (for holding the wick when you are pouring wax into the candle container, slip a pencil, pen, or chopstick through the loop and rest it on the lip of the container) in one end and do not dip that end in the wax.

    Cotton string - like "butchers twine" can be bought for $3.00 for 185 FEET. If you reuse small Christmas tins, old (GLASS) jelly jars, you have reduced you cost down even further. My wife has made "milk carton" candles using old paper "quart sized" milk or half and half cartons to make some very nice square "pillar" candles as well. Just cut the top off, pour the wax (with the wick in place). Once it cools completely, just peel the paper container off the candle.

    Yeah, I'm cheap, but saving money on stuff like candles, even cutting my cost down by a $1.00 each, is one more dollar I can spend on other preps.

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    Replies
    1. I would cation on the use of crayons for wax. I melted all my sons' old crayons last week to make new crayons. The fumes they emitted were awful. I would not do it again. I know I buy crayons that are labeled non-toxic, but it was still awful.

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    2. AnonymousJuly 03, 2012

      Crayons clog wicks. Don't do it. ;)

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    3. Awesome! I am so excited to do this! I would LOVE to have some scented canndles and I have some lavender oil, can I just put a few drops in melted wax?

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    4. I've added all sorts of essential oils to my candles, just add several drops to your preffered scent level and stir it with a chopstick or something similar.

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    5. I used to make candles for my own shop for a living. One: crayons only clog up wicks if you put seriously way too much in the wax, a little bit goes a very long way!

      Two: Kimberly, yes, wax will give off some seriously toxic fumes no matter if its crayons or paraffin wax, soy wax, etc.. IF you do not use a double boiler, and for no reason let it run out of water!!! I made this mistake one time, and only one time, I smelled smoke, the house filled with smoke and then I heard the "WOOF" and turned around to an entire 40# of wax on fire and putting lids on the 10# pots didn't cut it, the heat and flames blew the lids right off. I had to disperse my fire extinguisher and what a nightmare of a mess that was. OMG I never got it all cleaned up until I got rid of the entire stove!

      Three: Essential Oils in candle is a seriously bad idea, especially if you plan to be cheap later and try to re-use old candles to make new one or use them for the "Fire Can's" posted at the bottom of the original post. I dealt with this issue as well, the oil sinks to the bottom of the pot and makes a bubbling sound and suddenly it can blow the wax straight up and into the air to hit a burner, catch a fire, or seriously burn someone. Scent chips are what you use if you want to scent a candle, and personally in a survival situation I will happily smell my way towards someone burning a candle that may be hiding for safety. So I don't scent any of my survival candles period!

      Four: another note on adding color to wax, it changes the temp in which it will burn, some colors burn cooler, and other colors a lot hotter. The coolest cool is white, and the soy wax this person is telling you to use, can come in a soft wax form as well, its easy to shape, mold and cool to pour. Which is really nice if in a survival situation you have little heat and need to make a new candle from old ones. Soy wax also burns clean, no smell, unlike paraffin candles which can leave that burnt smell in the air even before you put them out if they are burning to long.

      Five: when it comes to wicks, don't use the metal core wicks, again they have metal inside them and thus burn very hot and smell really strong when you put them out. Not to mention you pinch out one of those wicks and you'll earn yourself some serious burns for it, and they reek when you put them out. I prefer the above comment on making your own wick, those wicks are in my personal opinion the best ones, and on the end I always drilled a hole in the center of a penny and tied my wick with a knot in the bottom and let my penny hover flat above the knot. Copper is something you may need in survival, same for Borax as farmers in Hawaii where using it in their soil in very small, small amount after Fukushima to lower the radiation amount absorbed by plants. I think it was around 1/4 lb to an entire acre, anyway want to know more on that, do some research on Google.

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  4. Why the borax solution?? I have used just plain cotton twin for candle wicks and it seems to work just fine..

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  5. Cuts down on how fast the wick is consumed and reduces the smoke. Makes your candle burn even longer.

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  6. Nice Alex! These look like very high quality candles for the money! Would love to make a batch just in case!

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  7. My recommendation is to use jelly jars, or tomato sauce jars after the contents are used up. Not only are they free, but you get to participate in prepper-recycling! The only suggestion I have, however, is to heat the jars slowly in the oven so they do not crack due to thermal shock.

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    1. A metal spoon in the glass jar while pouring in the hot liquid will absorb the heat and the glass should not crack. Just remove the spoon after two to three minutes.

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    2. AnonymousMay 02, 2012

      Heat the jars in the oven? Why?

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    3. AnonymousJuly 01, 2012

      "so they do not crack due to thermal shock". Can you not read? o.0

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    4. AnonymousJuly 21, 2012

      Question...I've had trouble with my wicks. Either they burn to smokey or they burn too far down to quickly to the point where I can't light the candle anymore or the burn radious is too small and the candle is essentially a waste because all the wax pools at the wick and eventually smothers it. Does anyone recommend any particular wick or methods to fix this?

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    5. An old pencil can be used to slightly dig out around the wick. Also, you want to limit your burn time. The longer you burn, the most likely this is to happen.

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    6. Use a thicker or better quality wick...I had the same problem...got to use better wick.

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    7. Canning jars should have no requirement for preheating

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  8. Could u add a common ingredient to make them smell? (Good smelling)

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    1. You can buy special "fragrant oils" fairly easily in order to turn them into scented/aromatic candles - add some dye and there's not much difference between these and the $20-$30 designer candles.

      As far as common household ingredients, I'm not sure. I'll have to defer to the tribe on that.

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    2. If you have any essential oils around the house they will work fine. Nothing else will though. Also, be sure you buy a fairly large wick so it won't "drown out" in a melt pool. Soy burns cooler and slower and a thin wick just won't do the job. (used to have my own candle business!) good luck....keep preppin'

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    3. www.saveonscents.com

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    4. Be very careful if you plan on using scents for very long. When the big ice storm hit Arkansas & no power for two weeks a friend of mine used her pretty scented special candles for light - several in each room. They became very ill & had to find a doctor to learn that it was the scent. Scented candles are meant to be burned a few at a time only a short time not to light rooms for the evening. Others had this same problem so I'd make most of them plain and one in the main room scented. No scented ones in the bathroom! Small room, small airspace lots of problems. But that is just mho.

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    5. I would be willing to bet they were using cheap candles that are made of paraffin with man-made scents. Often those candles have lead in the wicks too, plus they're the ones that leave a sooty residue on walls, ceilings, etc... wherever they are burned. You get what you pay for. I've read a lot lately about the toxic potential of the average candle. Stick with soy, beeswax and maybe palm and only natural essential oils, all of which are non-toxic!

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    6. AnonymousJuly 03, 2012

      Actually, natural essential oils stink when burning, that's why fragrance oils were made. Just go easy, add some beeswax to your paraffin mix, and wick your candles according to the diameter of the candles. It makes a difference or you'll overheat the jar and it'll break, or you get that special candle with a 1 inch hole burned all the way to the bottom. :)

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    7. I agree about being cautious with scent for emergency candles. After Katrina, I used scented high quality soy candles to light the house for two weeks. After the first couple of days, I got nauseated every time I lit a candle and I have never been sensitive to scents. We switched to cheap0 unscented candles and used them for two weeks after Gustav with no ill effects.

      Thanks for the post! Now after Isaac, it is time to replenish my stash so I very much appreciate these instructions.

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  9. UGLY ROOSTER

    Adding scent... There is actually a FUNCTION VALUE here. So, limiting myself to only what is common around the house, would lead us to the kitchen and bathroom. Vapor rubs tend to contain camphor-mint, eucalyptus and the like can be found in many bathroom medicine cabinets. These are all very fragrant and useful oils. Be careful what it is in though. While I would add Vics vapor rub to my candles, hand lotions would not be appropriate. You would really be at your own risk and need to use great care if adding commercial products to your wax stock.

    What you are trying to achieve is the adding of ESSENTIAL OILS to your wax. As it burns, the oil is released in the warm air. Essential oils have practical functions, most important of which is bug repellant.

    Another ingredient to add would be dried and ground up lemongrass. Mix that in the wax. Great repellant if you are lucky enough to have it in your area.

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    1. I love the idea of grinding up lemon grass and adding it to your candles - love the scent and will be happy to have the repellant. Florida can be miserable that way.
      Thanks for the tip!

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  10. UGLY ROOSTER again

    I know this article deals with making your own candles from wax, but it bears mentioning that nearly ANY fatty or waxy substance can be used for light and heat... And using the same basic technique described above. Lard, tallow, combining old candle remnants, nearly anything can be turned into a candle. Just be sure to purify the material through gentle heating and filtering or settling. If you don't, you get a soggy and rotting candle.

    Remember, if it is hard like consistency at room temp, it is a candle you are making. If liquid at same temp, it is a LAMP. Build accordingly, be safe.

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  11. THEBSK

    The article is titled "DIY Survival Candles". What does "DIY" stand for?

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  12. Do it your-self... (or you could use google for such questions)

    ANYWAYS, great article! I will certainly make up a batch ASAP!!

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  13. THEBSK

    When you take the lid off of a tin can (Spaghetti-O's for instance) there are no sharp edges. Would it be a good idea to save and use these for candles? Or would the tin can hold to retain too much heat and possible result in a burn injury or something of the like? I'm new at this, so any advice/help would be greatly appreciated.

    Great Article though. Thanks!

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    1. You could use most containers in a pinch. Some cans have a food safe coating that will cause you some problems, though. Overall, old jars will work better, last longer, etc.

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    2. Glass allows more light to escape, too, for better/more efficient illumination.

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  14. Nice post- I'll have to try this out myself soon. While I don't anticipate candles being a primary source of emergency lighting for me, always nice to have that plan B, and unprepared acquaintances would very likely appreciate them.

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  15. stopped by the local "hobby lobby" to pickup mats for this project. my candles are cooling as i type this.

    i already had a case of 8oz jars.

    1x 2lb soy wax @ 9.99
    2x 10 count 3.5inch wick and tab (thin, may not be the right kind) @ 2.69 each
    total: $16.65 after tax

    2lb of wax made just under 6x candles filling each with room to spare for about $2.77 each (not including jars).

    ordering online obviously would make this cheaper but local stores (even chains) are important too not to mention convenient!

    next time i will make sure i leave the store with more wax as well as try different wick/tab combinations.

    if the wicks don't work like someone had mentioned above i will re-melt, purchase the thicker wicks, and re-pour.

    also, i found it difficult to keep the wicks positioned properly when i poured. i tried to take some hot wax and get the wick tab to stick on the bottom but it was less than effective. the candles started to cool and it allowed me to re-seat them in the middle of the bottom of the jar. as time has passed i have been able to move the top of the wick to the middle and it's staying. one suggestion i found while in the store reading a candle making book was to use a shot of hot glue to keep them stuck.

    i look forward to doing a burn test!

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    1. if using a metal tabs, would a strong magnet on bottom hold in place or move in place when done pouring?

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    2. amy, OP here, i started to use a hot glue gun to squirt a healthy blob of hot glue on the bottom of the jar and then place the tab inside the glue.

      this will hold it in place, as long as you don't pull it up too hard because hot glue and glass don't make a very good bond. using a healthy blob was more effective than using a little blob.

      using a magnet may hold it in place initially but what happens when the candle gets down to where the area around the tab is melted?

      well, the tab starts moving around in the melted wax and it carries it's flame with it.

      alternatives could be any material that can stick metal and class but can withstand some heat. i'm thinking about some of those adhesive putty compounds where a small dab would do it.

      try things!!

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    3. I think someone who really doesn't know the traditions of candle making must have written that book. The traditional way to make the wicks "stick" is to use a drop or two of wax. Personally, I wouldn't use hot glue, not knowing how it would react with the heat/flame as the candle burns down, or if it could be removed easily or not when the candle is finished and you're cleaning the jar.

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    4. If you decide to do this again and get your wax from Hobby Lobby, they have a 40% off coupon on their website that you can print out. If you forget to print it and you have a smart phone, you can pull it up while you're there and the cashiers will honor it as long as you show it to them. I do it all the time. That'd definitely cut your cost a bit.

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    5. AnonymousJune 28, 2012

      Tips for wicks:
      I raided my Hubby's workshop for small nuts etc - some lying forgotten on the floor under the workbench. Tie the wick to the nut as a tab - no cost recycled tabs!
      To make them stick where I wanted them at the bottom I used the tiniest tiniest blob of prestic/tictac, which I raided from my home office desk.

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  16. Cut a notch in the center of a popsickle stick slightly smaller than your wick. After anchoring the wick in the jar, slide the end of the wick into the slot and let it rest on the glass rim. These work well and can be reused indefinitely.

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    Replies
    1. I remember doing this in school, but we cut the tops off of milk cartons and poured mmelted wax into the cartons using a popsickle stick to hold the wick in place. We added glitter or other items for decorations.

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    2. You could wrap the top of the wick around the middle of a pen or pencil and rest it on the rim of the jar also.

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  17. UGLY ROSTER

    For easy wicks, try using thin wood. Thin like vernier layers in plywood. If you use two and slap them back to back, you will end up with a crackling flame. Lasts longer than a wick of fabric.

    Not exactly necessary, but they stand up easy and just in case you done have string.... You can use the hemmed edge ods old sheets for a big flame!

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  18. just wanted to add that we have actually melted the soy wax in the microwave. It is alot less messy, and some people do not have a double boiler. Just watch it closely, and microwave for 1-2 minute intervals until melted. Soy wax is so much better than petroleum based wax! You can even rub some of the melted wax into your skin and it will moisturize.

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  19. I saw another site, where they took sandpaper and inserted into the mason jar lid. The sandpaper was on top of the round insert. And exposed on top. So then you could add a baggy of lucky strike matches and have a cute package deal!
    Could create an emergency packaged gift with this idea included to a newly wed or new neighbor!!
    Love it!!

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    Replies
    1. you can buy a 10 pack of matches at the dollar store.

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  20. Sandpaper could be added/adhered on top of the mason jar round insert, so the sandpaper is exposed on top. A baggy of lucky strike matches could then be added for a cute emergency candle gift or for own personal storage!

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  21. I just want to second the whole wearing gloves and being cautious around the hot wax and add to NOT walk away for any longer than is absolutely necessary. My cousin and Aunt were into candle making years ago and my cousin was melting a batch of wax and walked away and when she came back the wax had caught on fire. She panicked and grabbed the pot to put in the sink and ended up ruining their kitchen and burning herself pretty badly. A few surgeries and probably at least 10 years later she still has scars. Hot wax is NOT something you want to mess with!

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  22. Any idea, other than crayons, how to add color?

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    Replies
    1. Candle dyes are the "right" way to do it. Dyes come in liquid or solid form, in a variety of colors. Amazon has a bunch.

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    2. I'm very new to this, but have been saving jars to decorate for our backyard wedding this September :) It will be at night & the plan is to light the entire yard with white xmas lights & TONS of candles!! I think I have the DIY candle making down, thanx to every1s great posts here! I have a question about the above reply. U said there are candle dyes available... does any1 know if they come scented? Or should I add both the dye and...I think I read, essential oils for the scent? Thanx for the help in advance :) Hope some1 has a great tip :)

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  23. exactly how do you 'clean up' the wax after melting it in a pan/double boiler and pouring it into a measuring cup...does it just wash up with soap and water? doesn't seem likely... can these things be re-used for cooking?

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    1. Hot water and some scraping will do the job. It's best if you don't let the melted wax sit and harden up. Clean the wax off and then run it through the dishwasher and you're good to go.

      If you use soy wax, it's non-toxic--it's just soy--so no worries unless you have a soy allergy.

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    2. If you do not like DIY, consider sourcing your candles from a different supplier. Novena candles (the kind you would find burning in a Catholic church) are long lasting and super cheap. They can be found in grocery stores for about $1.50 or cheaper by the case on-line.

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    3. I have always used an old #10 can (removed label)to melt my wax in. You can easily shape the can, by pushing on the sides near the top to create a pouring spout, before adding any wax or putting it in hot water. Put wax in #10 can inside your pot of boiling water and wait for your wax to melt. You will need pot holders to handle the #10 can as it is very hot. I use pot holder gloves, with fingers (It's like wearing regular gloves with grips) I love these! You can get them at bed, bath and beyond. You wouldn't want to use anything that will cause you to loose your grip on this hot wax. I can either save the can for later or throw it away. No wax mess to clean up!! Love it!

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    4. I wouldn't bother with messing up my dishes or leaving residue in my sink or dishwasher. Candlemaking can be a very messy hobby. I use a #10 can (like a coffee can or potato flakes can) inside a big pot to use as a double boiler, and use other smaller tin cans as ladles and such. I just bend a little spout in the side to help pour more precisely.

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    5. If you're serious about candlemaking, go to the thrift store and buy a couple of pots to use and dedicate them to candlemaking. Don't use your good pots and pans for this. Any residual wax in the pan will melt and be incorporated into the next batch of candles.

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    6. I was wondering if anyone was going to mention this. Gee, it is so much simpler and safer to use a pot with a handle!

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    7. I have devoted a nonstick 9" round cake pan. I place it on top of a pot slightly smaller, about half way filled with water. Once it comes to a boil, the wax flakes or left over candle pieces that I save, begin to melt :) I rinse the cake pan after each use but if a lil bit of wax residue stays, its no big deal b/c I only use it for this! The pot that hold the water never gets dirty, so I can continue to cook with it ;)

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  24. I want to make these. How long will an eight ounce candle burn?

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    1. Burn time should be around 40 to 50 hours; "best use" is supposed to be only burning the candle in 4 hours intervals. If you just let it burn constantly, burn time isn't as good.

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  25. You used #9 wick is that the best?

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    1. They're 9 inch wicks that I bought off eBay for cheap - cut them about in half for each candle. It's not the best--I'm not sure if there is a "best"--but what I had on hand, and they work very well.

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  26. I just called a candled store and asked about wicks. He said wicks do matter when it comes to wether you want light or just decoration. We ordered 51-32-18-Z Spooled Wick: 100 foot Spool from Amazon for $5.99 as we have various sizes of jars. 60-44-18-Z Spooled Wick: 75 foot Spool these the gentleman also say will work for what we want to do. The rest he said are mainly for decorative candles.

    Just thought I'd pass the information along.

    Pal...

    BTW...THANKS so much for the information! I was wondering what I was going to do with all these jars I've been saving...and all these cans I keep throwing away, but hate doing so.

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    1. The numbers you have posted for wick size..are you using both sizes? It looks like you have 2 kinds? so when do you use what size?

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  27. Wow, this is so great!!! Can not wait to make these, but I wanted to ask about the fragrance option. Can you use store bought oils, such as vanilla or peppermint from a health food store? It was mentioned to be careful of what is in them, but I'm not sure what is not good. Can you clarify?

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    1. I think an oil base fragrance is the only stipulation. There are a lot of online resources for mixing essential oils to obtain specific fragrances. Good luck.

      BTW, great article!

      -Susan in MS

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    2. Yes, you can use vanilla or peppermint oils from a health food store. Just make sure they are all-natural essential oils. (In theory you could use clove oil, but it's probably going to burn your eyes like crazy!) Other "gentle" oils - almond comes to mind - would probably work as well, but my advice would be to experiment with small amounts to get the proportions right.

      Also, if you're not averse to consulting pagan sources, there are some terrific Wiccan guides around that give recipes for using oils and herbs in candles as well as ointments, etc. - all for positive outcomes, by the way! Llewellen publishes several excellent ones.

      Delete
    3. AnonymousMay 01, 2012

      My daughter tried malting wax and then adding vanilla - it exploded. Quite a mess. Let the wax cool slightly before adding anything.

      Delete
    4. Exploded? I hope no one was hurt! I would spend the coin for purpose-made candle fragrances (they are pretty cheap) and make sure to follow instructions.

      Was she using soy wax or something else?

      Delete
    5. If it was regular vanilla, it has alcohol in it and the heat will make it explode if it is intense enough.

      Delete
  28. I'm curious about the amount of smoke that is emitted when burning these candles. After an hour or so of burning a scented or nonscented candle my husband and I start getting headaches. Years ago (when my husband and I were getting married) I had heard about smokeless candles. I wonder if there is something you have to do differently to get a candle "smokeless." Can anyone chime in on this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One big reason for this is that most of the candles we have been accustom to using have been petroleum-based; inhaling the fumes from these as they burn (whether smoking or not) - particularly in closed rooms but even outside - is akin to hanging out by a gasoline pump! That's a big reason soy candles are such an improvement. Take note if you're tempted to just use those big, cheap novena candles: the fumes from them are really noxious. (That's why they're cheap: petroleum - at least in the quantity necessary to make a candle - is lots cheaper than high-quality materials.)

      Delete
    2. many commercial candles also have lead wicks, which might be to blame for your headaches. check the warning label thoroughly and if you still are unsure rub paper on the end of the wick to see if it writes like a pencil. if so, throw the candle away!

      Delete
  29. You dont have to use a double boiler, my husband and I make candles all the time and we use a 12$ crock pot. Works great!

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  30. crazycatladyFebruary 23, 2012

    I don't know how this idea would be for you but the home candles I make, I put in finely grated lemon zest in some and orange zest in some. Make sure not to get the white 'pith' grated in. Makes a nice fresh scent and the oil from the peel is a natural fragrance used for many eons. Remember the fresh herbs we have, lavendar, rosemary, etc. Dry fresh between paper towels in a micro until crisp then add to your jar just before pouring wax so you don't have to have a dozen that all smell the same. :)

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    Replies
    1. Be careful adding anything potentially flammable to your candles. I would recommend oils purpose made for use in candle making--they're not very expensive and work well.

      Delete
    2. Vanilla has alcohol in it. Was that maybe why it exploded? Isn't alcohol flammable? IDK Just a thought.

      Delete
  31. I have a dedicated paraffin pan and have some readily available would the burn time be comparable to the soy?

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  32. Just wanted to let you know that this site took your article and copied it.
    http://foodstorageresource.blogspot.com/2012/02/diy-survival-candles.html

    In case you care about your copyright.

    ReplyDelete
  33. How many candles would a 5-lb bag of wax make using the 8-oz jars? Thinking about making this a group activity, and would like to plan how much of what to have on hand.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jen, you should get about 24 ounces to 1 pound of soy wax flakes. So, one pound will give you three jars 8 ounce, and a five pound bag should give you 15 jars, give or take.

      Delete
  34. I will start saving my empty food jars and look for supplies. Great weekend project. Thanks to all for their tips and cost saving ideas.

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  35. I used to make my own candles, now after reading this I want to do some more.

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  36. I started making my own candles over a year ago when I found that the honey farm that I get my honey at also sold huge bricks of pure beeswax for about $3.50 a lb. For beeswax that's way cheaper than anything you'll find online and it's totally natural. I love the sweet smell, and the candles last forever.

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    Replies
    1. That's a great deal on beeswax, which is probably all around the "best" wax out there. They could probably do well selling those blocks online...

      Delete
  37. What a wonderful tutorial. I found it through Pinterest. I am new to prepping and hadn't thought of making candles but it is on my list now. I wanted to ask permission before pinning your post to my Pinterst wall. Can't wait to dig through more of your blog.
    THANKS!

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    Replies
    1. Sure, go ahead and Pin this. Thanks for asking - I know it's made the rounds around Pinterest, and you're the first person to ask!

      Delete
    2. Thanks, I will also pin to Pinterest. Didn't know where to find source for soy wax. Hopefully I can find Bamboo oil also; just can't resist that aroma. The store where I bought Bamboo soy candles no longer stocks them. No problem for me now! Great info!

      Delete
  38. Read this article the other night and went to Hobby Lobby to look for Soy Wax and wicks, I think for a 2 lb bag and wicks came out to $15. I know you can find it cheaper online but wanted to try a small experiment before I went all in. Used 3 soup cans and poured the Soy direct into the cans and melted them in a small pan of boiling water. I held the wicks down with a few old screws I had laying around.
    Worked like a champ! and the candles are cooling now. Very cool article thanks!

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  39. This article and all the replies is amazingly helpful. So glad someone got your permission to pin it!

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  40. Fantastic idea !! I am going to give it a try. Thanks for sharing !!! Lynne

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  41. Terrific! Many Thanks for sharing :)

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  42. we used to make candles when i was a kid and my mom made her "double broiler" by melting the wax in an old coffee tin placed in a pot of boiling water.

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  43. I've never made candles, but you have totally motivated me to try these. Great instructions. Aside from using these for emergency candles, mason jars are trendy in decorating. You could use a variety of jar sizes for these and make a novel and fun table centerpiece.

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  44. I remember someone telling me once to use a penny as a tab. Dip it in the wax a few times to "weld" the wick to the penny, put it in the jar and pour away.

    I'm going to try this by melting down some old candles I have sitting around. Hope it works!

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  45. Amazing. Thanks for the article.

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  46. Wonder information. I read that you know it's being 'pinned around' and I want to add it to my board...Thanks for sharing...Coreen

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  47. Great tip! Perfect for storm and hurricane season!

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  48. I just recently started making my own candles and it is so much fun! Thank you so much for you tips I really enjoy your website and am super glad I found it will be back for some more good reads!

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  49. I followed this blog from Pinterest. I was not interested in making candles, but your clear instructions and prices makes me want to give it a try. I pass up lots of pretty and great smelling candles because of the cost and I LOVE buying them. I also read through each of your follower's comments and advice, which really convinced me to try it out. The comments about the fire hazard is also good advice and I will be very careful. Thanks for sharing!

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  50. What would be the best thickness for the wick for 8oz and larger candles?

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  51. if ur looking for a cheap way for containers soup cans work awesome well actually any type of can. I use them for candles and also even sometimes for plants. not to mention you don't have to worry bout them breaking which is the best part of all.

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  52. I'm wondering if you could skip the pan. We used to melt chocolates in glass jars in water. Could you just fill the glass jars with the wax flakes and put them in a pan of shallow water to melt the wax? Seems like this could save all the mess.

    I think I would allow it to cool in the pan for a while, too. Any reason I should not do this?

    Thanks so much for this great tutorial. I saw it on Pinterest, too. I am about to pin it myself. :)

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  53. I melt my wax in an old crock pot on low, it stores well and and I just add old candles to the pot until I am ready to make more.

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  54. Thank you for the great tip, going to share those on my blog I do a lot of canning

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  55. When adding the essential oil (for scent), would I add it during the melting of the wax ... or add it to the jars when I pour in the melted wax?

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  56. Wonderful idea...& SO very simple! Wondering how someone might color or scent the candle...easily & efficiently...maybe an envelope of unsweetened kool-aid powder??? just joking, well, maybe it'd work; that's what I put in homemade play dough & street chalk paint. I have a tiny bottle of orange citrus essence oil a lady sold me to put in homemade laundry soap(which I have yet to make ) ; also, how might you add a slight color, like red or green if making for Christmas, or pink/red for Valentine's or a pastel shade for Spring? Thank you so much for this neat idea!

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  57. You should see the price of these things in Australia, you've thing they were made from gold. This is really cool project to try out you can always use candles.

    Cheers,
    Justin.

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  58. AnonymousMay 29, 2012

    Awesome information. Just had a thunderstorm and needed emergency candles, so will definitely try this. Oh, by the way found this on Pinterest, would like to pin.

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  59. I have had candles in canning jars before, and in my experience, they are dangerous. When the candle burned down to the end, the heat broke the jar and I had a fire. I've avoided jar candles ever since. If you're going to do this, you might want to stop using the candle before it burns all the way down.

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  60. Great post! Just FYI, you can go to almost any Dollar Tree and get "prayer candles" for $1. They are tall cylinders and burn for about 40 hours or so. They'll even order in bulk for you if you want.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AnonymousJune 13, 2012

      You can also order these wholesale online in bulk and they'll ship them to you. Just be prepared to have an extended lighter or such to light them. They're about 10 inches tall.

      Delete
    2. Side note: a piece of uncooked spaghetti serves as a great extended lighter when one end is lit.

      Delete
  61. AnonymousJune 17, 2012

    For those asking about cleaning the pot and other utensils after making the candles, if you fill the pot up with water after you're finished and heat it to almost boiling and then let it cool, all of the wax rises to the top and solidifies so the only scrubbing required then is right around the top edges, above your water line.

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  62. A low melting point just means it burns away faster.

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  63. I am hooked! I love your Blog! Vanessa

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  64. Nice writeup. Candles are pretty easy to make..i make them for the wife because she burns them and they are ridiculously expensive. If you add Stearic Acid (usually available where candle supplies are sold) it will make the candle harder and burn longer. Don't go crazy, or you'll have concrete with a wick in it. SA is ok to use with scented candles but the harder your make a candle, the less sent it throws. You can also buy the wax for substantially cheaper online and the more you buy the cheaper it gets. I generally buy in 50lb boxes, usually costs about 55 after shipping and your standard 1 pint mason jar holds about a pound (give or take) of wax

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  65. Just a comment on adding fragrance or essential oils to anything hot. All oils have a flashpoint at which they burn up and most fragrance or essential oils flashpoint is around 100-120 degrees. That means your oil (when making soap etc) or wax must be cooled down to that point before adding the fragrance or essential oils. If not they will burn up in a steam frenzy and could also cause a reaction that may injury you.

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  66. For safety candles should always be placed on a heatproof coaster, tile, or whatever *especially* if you make your candle in a metal can.

    Candles will burn a lot longer if stored in the freezer.

    As mentioned already you can use a slow cooker (crock pot) to melt the wax safely and easily, and don't use paraffin candles if you value your health - soy or beeswax are best.

    Instead of adding colour to your wax (which could potentially be toxic) use glass paints on the outside of the jar, or stick coloured cellophane around it.

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  67. AnonymousJuly 24, 2012

    Probably a weird question but I have a son who is allergic to soy, I'm wondering if the fumes or smoke would be an issue. Any thoughts or comments on this? Thank you, awesome tutorial :)

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  68. Just an "added" thought about adding fragrance: a friend of mine lost power, and only had scented candles, and TRULY hated the way her house smelled by the time the power came back on after the storm! She was really regretting the fact that she had no unscented candles, because she had no way of getting away from all of the different scents that were now mixing in her house! Also, you never know who is going to need to take shelter in your house with you, and who may be sensitive/allergic to different scented ingredients in your candles (case in point: I am allergic to most "vanilla-"scented candlles).

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  69. If the jars you use have the removable tin at the top, you can replace that round piece with a cut down piece of black sandpaper that fits your jar's lid and simply attack a little match holder to the side of the jar. Easy way to keep the essentials all together :]

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  70. So awesome! Thank you for the tutorial! I am totally doing this.

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  71. Ive been making candles for a couple years. First, soy wax does not create black soot. it burns clean and it is easy to use. Second, I would advise going to Peak Candle's website. they have a free tutorial and they provide you the type of wick to use with whatever wax you decide on and they sell color and scent if you want to get fancy. not expensive at all. Third, I'm seeing some confusion about wicks. Just buy them, don't get too creative and use the right length and width for your candle which depends upon how big your container is and the type of wax for the best result. you don't want a candle that keeps going out because of the wick. Fourth, yes, you can use a dab of hot glue to place the wick in the container. We used to make them in old milk cartons then peel it away! You can put candles in many different containers but not cracked or damaged glass and the glass must be heat resistant to be safe. you can also use an old clean coffee can to melt your wax in. a REAL coffee can:) Be careful!

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  72. Thanks for all the information, the comments were enlightening as well. I love the idea of a long burning candle for emergencies or prepping. I'm a woman so ya, I'd like a scented candle, but if we are talking survival here, the first priority is to figure out the basics.
    I plan to do more research on the scents, I'm sure there are some herbal solutions to be found if one digs around.
    Anyway - just stopped by from pinterest since I don't like pinning something I haven't checked into myself.
    BTW that prepping show is addictive:)

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  73. I just want you to know that I did this. I linked your blog to my blog to give you full credit for the fantastic tutorial. You made the instructions totally easy! :) Thank you for all of the great pictures ! I loved this project!

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  74. I have a question. I have a patchouli plant can I some how scent my candles with that? Would I dry some leaves and crush and put in?? Any ideas?

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  75. Rather than put a book of matches in each jar I put two or three Bic lighters into an empty jar and seal it, then put it into the box with the candles. I do this for each box of candles. I do this because I sometimes find book matches hard to light and they will often absorb moisture from the air.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only time I prefer matches for anything is when lighting a candle. Just seems to work a bit easier!

      Delete
    2. Diamond WangMay 05, 2013

      Yes defo matches to light a candle (plus I like the match-smell!)
      Am pinning and sharing: thanx for great info :) x

      Delete
  76. Great, thanks!

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  77. I am not a DIY person but I want to make these!

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  78. Loving the information on this website , you have done great job on the posts .

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  79. GREAT post! Love the photos and the price break down.
    It's been on my to do list for a while, but now I'm inspired (and aware of the cost - thanks for the research) and will get it done!
    Blessings!

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  80. We buy large "votive" candles in the Mexican food aisle of our local supermarket for about $2 each. Won't last as long as the home made, but easy to stock up on in a hurry.

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  81. What do you recommend for adding scents? I didn't want to scroll through the feed to try to find a response that you posted so I figured I would just post another question. I am not too finicky about spending a little extra for the scents if there is something you recommend like something on amazon.com etc. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Go to eBay/Amazon and type in "candle scents" to get scent liquids made for just this purpose. There's a wide variety to choose from.

      That's the only thing I can recommend from first hand experience...

      Delete
  82. Did this with a 10 lb bag of soy wax flakes. It made 27.5 candles for a cost of 1.78 each.

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  83. I have 8 oz. quilted Ball jar candelaria hanging in my tree for outdoor, entertaining ambiance. I used tea lights inside, resting on a bed of sand.

    Next year I will need replacement candles, and am thinking this DIY activity is the way to go. My question concerns using small glass vessels for this type of candle. I have seen the little glass holders online for a good price.

    My candles wouldn't need to burn more than 3-4 hours after dusk.

    Would appreciate any comments, concerns, constructive criticism, and any other heretofore unmentions considerations with making smaller tealight type candles.

    Thank You.

    I am, Gymgirl, and I have read the entirety of the posts...

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  84. as a candle maker myself. this is a cheap project. Also as far as getting your wick centered try a clothespin or a small pair of plyers. dip the bottom of the wick dip it in a lil wax before placement. place the clothes pin on wick and lay it on the top of the container so that the wick is straight. This is how i do it and my mom did this too. clothespins are very inexpensive. Also, If you have old jars, glasses,coffee mugs etc. u can pour your candles in those. Mason jars are usually pretty expensive if purchased out of canning season in most areas. I would check out the dollar stores most of them have ceramic containers or coke glasses for $1 or less per piece. Which im in ohio and most of the time other than summer months mason jars usually cost more than $1 per jar. Hope this helps!

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  85. I am wondering if there is anything I can put in the bottom of the jar to prevent it getting to hot and breaking as one poster said it happened to her?

    I want to make some of thesee for prepper friends and family for christmas but not if it sould potentially get to hot and start a fire or damage something!

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    Replies
    1. As long as the wick stays relatively close-to-center in the jar, I wouldn't worry. Mason jars are meant to stand up to the heat of boiling/pressure canning, so hot wax should not pose a problem.

      Delete
  86. To add on to my question above, could a small layer of sand protect the bottom of the jar from getting to hot? Put the wick on top of the sand so it won't go down so far into the jar?

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  87. How do you get your wicks to stand up straight until the wax sets? The wicks usually fall over when the wax is in it's liquid stage, so I lay a pencil over the top of my jar with the wick wrapped around it until the wax sets. Once the wax sets, trim the wick.

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  88. I just made these, and I have to say, was surprised about how easy they were. Just to let you know, I used Pampered Chef's double boiler, to melt the wax in. It sets on top of a small saucepan and then to hold the wicks in place, I used their Twix-It Clips and held them across the jars. Worked like a charm and you can use them for everything. For those who don't know what they are, they are Chip clips. They work for everything around our house!!

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  89. Ive got to say, there is a lot of great information here. A load of people who have already tried it and chose to post on the what and what not to do. I think this is one of the best candle making info site Ive been to so far, thank you for all the info, tips and warnings.

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  90. I love this, it took me ages to read everyones comments, but I am so grateful for all of the information!!
    Going to make some after the holidays when the kids are back at school, can't wait to decorate the jars and start handing them out as gifts
    Xx Mary xx

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  91. would this candle making method work with these ingredients to make small floating candles or would that be different wax....?

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  92. I'm new to using soy wax and excited to make some survival candles. I've checked Amazon and Ebay and see there are different types of Soy Wax. Is there a difference between 100% Soy Wax Flakes, Natural Soy 444 Wax Flakes, Natural Soy 125 (415)Wax Flakes. I just want to be sure I purchase to correct wax for longest burning time.

    Thank you for your time.

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  93. Made some soy candles with the ladies' group at church, and we found that the candles actually set up faster, and the wicks are easier to center, if you don't completely melt the wax. Just soften it until it is thick and pourable. When the wax was completely melted, it seemed to spill more, and the pint jars we used took 2-3 hours to set up completely. Nice to know the wax is available at Hobby Lobby!

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  94. I bought candle making supplies several years ago and loved making them. One thing that was done differently from these instructions was instead of using a double boiler the wax was put in a baggie and set into a pan of water. Use a clip clothespin to clip the bag to the side of the pan to prevent it from falling into the water. Once the wax is melted you can pour it right from the bag or pour it into another container to pour into your candle jars. This worked great for me.

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  95. I stopped at the second hand store this a.m. to. see if i could find any jars or candles. I bought 9 jars for .29 each and 12 pillar candles for 6.00. I may melt down the candles for the fire cans I'm working on or just leave as they are as they still have the store price sticker on them!

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  96. GREAT Blog. Now following you. Added this to my blog and gave full credit. Also put on my FB page leading back to here (I didn't copy the page, just the connection to here for FB.) Love all the comments. Forgot so much after not making candles in over 20 years w/ my Grandma. She used clothespins to hold wick in place. She also used recycled jars (way before it was an issue) in the 1960's. Again THANKS to this blogger for all the hard work on this post!!!

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  97. Would this wax be appropriate for a wedding reception as far as burn time and if they are smokey or not? I'm wanting to make my own candles for my reception and hope to use this method! Thanks!

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  98. Another good way to make these is put the wick in the container, put the non melted wax in container/jar and place in a crock pot. When done melting add fragrance and take out to cool. No dirty pans and very simple. I have made quite a few this way without any problems.

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  99. So 5 lbs. of soy wax makes 9--8oz. candles
    Just asking want to be sure to have enough jars

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    Replies
    1. I had some left over after making nine. I would buy a case of a dozen jars, depending on how full you fill the jars you should be able to do 11 or 12.

      Delete
  100. This weeks homeschool project! Finally got all the materials together and we are looking forward to the activity.Counts for Survival,math,home ec and American History(we're researching candle making in the colonies).

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  101. AnonymousJune 03, 2013

    Wow, lots of great info. Can't wait to try this, both for prepping and for gifts. Pinned & shared on Facebook...

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  102. I've made soy candles since 1999...this is insane I would never use an open flame...and wicks it is not just any wick there is a certain wick that works with a certain size jar and scent and color change that too. Did I miss the disclaimer here...your not responsible for any fires caused my this method? I'm not talking a few candles...thousands at a time. Be extremely cautious following this advice. SHM

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  103. Great article and love all the positive comments...I'm a product of the 70's and this made me remember making sand candles back in the day. We dug out little holes in buckets of sand and poured the melted wax in...I think the sand was wet...it's been a while and back then there was usually some sort of "herb" burning so my memory is a wee bit vague. Still fun memory and great article.

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  104. Thanks for all the great info and comments!

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  105. I really liked the comment about including a small packet of matches in each jar. How many times have you had the candles but could not find the jars.

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  106. I always keep some candles in the fridge, they burn for longer when needed.

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  107. Since you mentioned including a book of matches inside your candles, here is another trick: Put a round piece of sandpaper in between the lid and the band for striking matches. Use for the candles or just store your matches in the jar. The paper boxes always fall apart. We also have a bad habit of leaving them outside and wrecking the matches with moisture.

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