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How to make soy candles using recycled containers, soy wax, a natural wick, and a beautiful fragrance. A cute and easy candle project perfect for making gifts or candles to use around the home.
If people knew how easy it is to make soy wax candles I doubt that there would be as many people buying them. You literally need the wax, a wick, scent (optional), prepared jars, and a heat-proof container to pour the candle into. After it’s poured, you leave the candle to cure for a week then you can use them, give them as Christmas gifts, or even sell them as part of a business. Once you have the right materials, you can make LOADS of soy candles at a time and have a great time doing it too. Spend a day making a few batches of candles and you’ll have plenty to use yourself and share with loved ones.
The basic steps for making homemade soy candles are to pre-measure the ingredients and prepare the wicks and containers. You then melt the soy wax in a pot, add optional fragrance and color, and then carefully pour wax into containers. Of course, there are details in that process that I’ll go through further below but it really is easy peasy.
It’s Easy to Make Soy Candles
Making soy candles does not take very long, either, but it’s important to use the right materials and to ensure that measurements and temperatures are precise. That’s why, for me, it’s essential to have an infrared thermometer to make candles. A candy thermometer will do too, but they’re more fiddly and don’t give instant readings. You’ll also need a digital kitchen scale to weigh the ingredients.
Despite having to be precise, the process of making soy candles is simple. After you’re finished pouring them, you allow the candles to harden and cure for seven to ten days before burning them. That’s basically it! Making soy candles is also a lot easier and safer than making beeswax or paraffin wax candles too. If you accidentally spill melted soy wax, it cleans up fairly easily with a cloth.
Use Recycled Pots to make Candles
In your run-up to gathering all of the materials and equipment needed for soy candles, don’t forget to reuse and recycle. You can use pots and jugs already in your kitchen and even recycle glass and metal food containers into candle containers!
One of the best free materials that you can use to make soy candles is the heat-proof glass or ceramic ramekins that some supermarket desserts come in. Most everyone I know saves these glass ramekins and uses them for various reasons. One thing that I use mine for is for making handmade dish soap.
Choose Candle Containers that are Heat-Proof
You could also use Mason jars to make soy candles, as well as cut wine bottles, jam jars, and the like. The best containers for soy wax candles are non-toxic and heat-proof. You don’t want them to accidentally melt! Another great container solution for homemade soy candles is tin cans. They can be recycled tins that once held food or bespoke candle tins with lids.
Soy wax has a relatively low melting point, and the type I use for containers is called Golden Wax 464 with a melting point of 113-118°F (45-48°C). It will not get as hot as beeswax, which melts at 144-149°F (62-65°C), which is a good thing. Hotter melting points mean hotter wax that heats up the glass or metal. Though soy wax doesn’t heat containers up to the extent of other waxes, it can still make containers hot to the touch. Be careful of touching the outside of a container if a soy candle has been burning for some time.
Which Wax to Use for Homemade Soy Candles
Soy wax is a vegetable-based wax that burns cleanly and is suitable for Vegans. It’s made from soybeans and there are LOADS of different soy waxes that you can buy. It can be a little overwhelming choosing one, especially since not all of them are going to be great for making soy candles poured into ramekins. Some soy wax is made to be used for wax tarts, and other types are formulated to be used in pillar candles. Some soy wax is just not great at all and gives disappointing results.
That’s why I recommend using Golden Wax 464 for this project. The temperatures are instructions below are specifically for this type of soy wax. If you use a different type of soy wax then your results may differ. You can get small amounts through online marketplaces and even larger boxes of it through wholesalers. I buy mine in 50 lb (22.5 kg) boxes. Buying bulk reduces the end price of candles, but may not be economical if you only want to make a dozen candles.
You might be wondering about other natural waxes that you could use to make ramekin candles. I would not recommend beeswax but you could use rapeseed wax and/or coconut wax. If you use either, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions on melting and pouring temperatures and source appropriate wicks.
Choose the Correct Wicks for Soy Candles
DIY soy candles are essentially a pot of soy wax that serves as fuel to a wick. The wick is primed with a little wax and when lit, the flame feeds on this first. It then begins using up the wax in the container. Some wicks are meant for soy wax, and some are not. Wicks are also created to be suitable for a specific diameter of a container. If you choose one that’s meant for a larger container, then it will burn more wax and your candle will be short-lived. Choose a wick that’s meant for a smaller diameter container and you’ll get tunneling — that’s when the melt pool is small and a tunnel burns through your candle.
The diameter of most ramekins is about 2.75″ (7 cm) and for them, I recommend pre-waxed Wedo ECO wicks in size ECO 8 with metal sustainers (wick tab) attached. I’ve used this brand of wick for many years and love that they’re all-natural and do not have anything suspect in them — they also self-trim as they burn. Some wicks have a core made of metal filaments (lead or zinc) that help hold the wick upright. It burns and is released into the air as the candle burns too!
You could buy wicks that don’t have metal sustainers attached and then buy the sustainers separately. I don’t recommend this for beginners though, since you’ll need to attach the sustainer and prime the wick before you begin.
Further Materials You Need for Soy Candles
Aside from the container, wax, and wick, you’ll need a few more materials. They include an adhesive to stick the metal sustainer at the bottom of the wick to the ramekin. I use white mounting putty for that purpose but you could also use a hot glue gun.
You’ll also need something to hold the wicks in place while the wax hardens, otherwise, the wick can tip over and into the wax! I use wooden chopsticks that are not broken apart for this. They pinch the wick in place and sit flush with the top of the container. You can also get custom wick holders from candle-making suppliers.
I don’t color my candles but if you’d like to, you will need soy candle dye. It typically comes in waxy chips that you melt along with the soy wax flakes. You can achieve some really beautiful colors, and even layered colors with candle dye! They’re synthetic though, so if you want to make natural candles you’d leave them uncolored. Food color, crayons, and micas/oxides are not suitable for making soy candles.
Making Scented Candles
Another material that you might want to add but which is optional is candle fragrance. Although plain soy candles are lovely, scented candles are extra special. Unfortunately, essential oils, unfortunately, don’t burn very well in most candles, though. You might smell it in the wax when it’s unlit but you won’t smell it when the candle is burning.
If you’d like to choose a dependable scent for your homemade soy candles, I recommend a phthalate-free candle fragrance. The amount of fragrance that you use is relatively high too, and usually at a rate of about 8-9% of the recipe. It will not be a natural essential oil, but it will smell lovely and not contain harmful phthalate plastics. Here’s a selection that you might want to check out:
- Christmas Wreath
- English Rose
- Pumpkin Pie
- Spring Flowers mix of six fragrances
- Browse more scents
How to Make Soy Candles in Cute Recycled Pots
- 4 glass ramekins
- Two stainless steel pans, one being smaller than the other (or a double boiler)
- Pouring pot could be a Pyrex or heat-proof plastic measuring jug
- Wooden skewer for stirring
- Pre-measure the ingredients using a kitchen scale. Measure the fragrance oil into a glass or ceramic dish and the soy wax into a small stainless steel pan.
- Prep the ramekins by sticking the bottom of the metal sustainer (also called a tab) of the wick to the center of each ramekin with a small amount of white mounting putty. Secure the wicks in a fully upright position by using the chopsticks. Place the ramekins on a piece of paper that can catch any drops of wax.
- Place the soy wax in a stainless steel pan and melt it on indirect heat. You do this by floating the pan in another pan filled with simmering water. Melt the wax until fully liquid and then place the pan on a potholder.
- Take the melted wax's temperature. When it has cooled to 180-185°F (82-85°C)*, stir in the fragrance oil. Stir with the spoon for thirty seconds to fully incorporate it. Leave the scented wax to cool and in the meantime clean off everything that came into contact with the fragrance oil with paper towels and dispose of it*.
- Allow the wax to cool to 135°F (57°C)* then pour into the ramekins. With small batches (such as four candles) it's relatively easy to pour directly from the pan that you melted the wax in. For larger batches, it helps to use a jug with a long pouring spout such as the one listed in the equipment above as optional.
- Once filled, leave the candles to harden undisturbed for twelve hours, at least. Afterward, you can gently remove the chopsticks and trim the wicks down to 1/4" (6 mm)*.
- Leave the candles someplace out of direct sunlight and room temperature for 7-10 days to cure. After this period, you can use the candles and expect good results.
How much wax and fragrance do you need?
The recipe for this soy wax candle project is 9% fragrance oil and 91% soy wax by WEIGHT. The instructions below give you the amounts to make four soy candles using standard glass ramekins. If you have different-sized ramekins, I have a way to work out how much of each ingredient you’ll need so that you can precisely make the amount that will fill your ramekins.
First, you’ll want to fill all of the ramekins with water and measure how much water they contain in total. You need the volume amount so you can either pour the water into a measuring jug to see or weigh it. In metric, it’s very easy since 1g of water is 1ml of water and 100g is 100ml, and so on. When I started this project I found that four Gü pots contain 480g of water — 480ml.
Formulating the Ingredients for your Ramekins
I hope that the formula below will help you to easily work out your ingredients but it’s based on the following information. Golden Wax 464 will give you 111ml for every 100g of wax flakes. Fragrance oils are not like water and will have differing figures for their amounts in volume and weight, but for small batches like this, and for simplicity’s sake, we’ll work with the assumption that 10g of your chosen fragrance oil (FO) is 10ml in volume. So a candle that weighs 110g (100g wax and 10g FO) will be 121ml (111ml wax and 10ml FO). Here’s how to work out your candle ingredients using grams:
- Multiply 0.91 by the figure that you have for the water weight for all of your ramekins. The resulting figure will be the total weight of candle ingredients.
2. Now that you have the total weight of candle ingredients, work out how much of that weight is fragrance by multiplying the total weight of ingredients by 0.09. That will give you how much fragrance oil to use in weight. The rest of the total candle ingredients is soy wax so that’s easy to work out.
For example, my four ramekins held 480ml of water (water amount). Multiplied by 0.91 I got 436 grams as the total weight of ingredients needed for my candles. 436 multiplied by 0.09 gives me 39g of Fragrance oil, and the remainder of the total weight of ingredients is soy wax — 397g.
More Ideas for the Handmade Home
- Homemade Dish Soap from Scratch (uses ramekins too!)
- DIY Recycled Wine Bottle Candle (learn how to cut wine bottles)
- Make All-Natural Beeswax Furniture Polish
- Easy to Make Winter Solstice Crafts for Instant Hygge