Make homemade natural tea lights with plant-based wax and essential oil. They’re easy to make & can be used indoors and out. DIY video included
Tea lights are pretty much a staple in most homes. We use them to light votives, decorate a table for a special occasion, or heat essential oil burners. They’re also really inexpensive to buy so why would you want to make your own? As in all other homemade recipes, making your own means that you get to control what goes into your end product. That means you can avoid paraffin wax or synthetic fragrance, or choose ingredients that are better for you and yours. Making them with vegetable-based wax also means that the tea lights are easier to clean up if there’s a spill since it often comes up with a damp rag.
Making tea lights is also much simpler than most people realize. Begin with the right wax, wicks, container, and instructions and you’ll have tealights galore! You’ll also have much more fun knowing that your candles are going to turn out great the first time. In this recipe, I’ll show you how to blend soy wax with essential oils to create all-natural lighting. If you choose the right oils, you might even be able to keep your outdoor gatherings free of bugs and mosquitoes.
TeA Light Materials
This recipe will give you approximately twelve tea light candles if you use the standard tea light cup size. The ones I’m using in the photos are a slightly shallower version and you can make 16 of them with this recipe. When you buy the ingredients for making tea lights you’ll have WAY more than for this recipe. Scale it up to make however many tealights that you’d like though.
The links below will direct you to where you can buy materials on Amazon. However, if you’d like to save you could purchase this tea light making pack which will give you enough wax, cups, and wick, to make 100 tea lights.
Step 1: Prepare the Tea Light Cups
Using an adhesive like Blu-Tak, or even a tiny piece of double-sided tape, stick each pre-tabbed wick into the center of a tea light cup. I recommend using pre-tabbed wicks because I actually use raw wick for some of my own commercial candles. Getting them cut and tabbed takes extra time which you can avoid by getting them pre-tabbed. Set the cups on a piece of baking paper or inside a mini muffin tray as I do. The muffin tray helps keep them from moving around which is handy.
Step 2: Melt the Soy Wax
In a microwave or over low heat using a double boiler, melt the soy wax flakes. It will melt quickly so keep an eye on it — you don’t want to heat it to temperatures above ‘just melted’ or you’ll have longer to wait for it to cool back down. Try to use a pan or container that has a pouring spout built-in. This will make it easier to pour your candles later on.
Step 3: Add the Essential Oil and Pouring
For soy wax candles to have a ‘Hot Throw’ you need to use between 8-10% essential oil. Having a throw is just a fancy way of saying that they smell of anything while they’re burning. If you use less than 8-10% of the amount of soy wax in your recipe then your candles won’t smell. If they don’t smell, they won’t be as effective in deterring insects. You add the essential oil to your wax when it’s 120°F (49°C). Pour it into the wax, stir really well, and pour immediately. You can stop just before the top but try to fill each up as far as you can. If the wick bends after you’ve poured the wax, gently push it back so that it’s upright in the center.
Step 4: Cool & Trim
Let the tea lights cool for at least an hour before you move them. Afterward, trim the wick down to 1/4″ or slightly less. You can begin using the candles right away. If you notice some frosting happening on the tops of your tea lights, it’s a common issue with soy wax. You can re-touch them with a heat gun if you have one but in all honesty it’s not a big deal unless you plan on selling them.
Plant-based wax is pretty easy to clean up. First of all your pan: while it’s still warm, wipe the excess oil off with a paper towel or toilet paper. Then wash it normally as you would by hand or in the dishwasher. Make sure that you clean up every drop of essential oil though since it can be toxic, especially to children and pets, if accidentally ingested.
If one of your tea lights spills while it’s burning, let it harden before you try cleaning it. Sometimes it will pop right up and if it doesn’t it’s soft and is easy to scratch off. Hot soapy water will clean it from most surfaces.
Burning Tea Lights
Soy wax tea lights will melt completely while they’re burning — this means that the entire cup will be filled with liquid wax. It will solidify again once you blow it out but you should take extra precaution in not jostling the tea lights while they’re burning.
I recommend that you put them in tea light holders or even a closed candle holder like mine below. Remember that the sides will heat up while the candle is burning and that flammable materials like curtains and table decorations should be kept well away from the open flame.
More Candle Making Inspiration
Tea lights are just the beginning of making your own candles. For even more inspiration, check out these other projects:
- Natural Ombre Candles in Jars
- Create Wine Bottle Candles (includes instructions on cutting the glass)
- Massage Oil Candle Recipe (a skincare candle)