Recycle wine bottles into stunning handmade candles
Can you believe that the handmade candles in the above photo are made out of wine bottles? Usually emptied and then tossed out with the recycling, glass wine bottles can be used to make creative and beautiful glasses, storage containers, votives, and candles.
Once made, you can give them as Christmas presents, save them for birthdays or other occasions, or just fill your home with handmade style and flickering fragrance. If you use wooden wicks, like I have, you’ll also enjoy the light popping and crackling of a mini fire. Just perfect for if you don’t have your own fireplace.
The candles featured in this tutorial are made with just a few ingredients and will probably take you about two hours to make start to finish. You will also require a special tool for scoring the glass but fortunately it’s available through Amazon at this link: Diamond Tech Crafts G2 Bottle Cutter. This is the exact tool I use and it comes with easy to read instructions.
The other materials you’ll need are:
1. 4-5 empty wine bottles, cleaned and with labels removed (a few extra would be wise for ‘just in case’)
4. Two large pots
5. Sandpaper (included in the set for the Bottle Cutter)
6. Soy Wax – this should be enough for four to five candles: CandleScience All Natural Soy Candle Wax, 2 Pound Bag
7. Wooden wicks – here’s a set of five from Amazon: Earth Wick Keeper 6/Pkg-Wood Large .5″Alternately you can use traditional wicks – here’s a bag from the same manufacturers as the soy wax I recommend above: CandleScience Natural Candle Wick, Medium, 50 piece
8. Adhesive – glue gun, Blue-tak, or similar
9. Optional: Candle fragrance. These bottles of fragrance are specifically designed to work with the bag of soy wax above. Mix one of the 1oz bottles included in this set with the entire 2lb bag and you’re ready to go: CandleScience Candle Scent Classics Fragrance Sampler, 4 bottles
Optional: Essential oils – unfortunately, essential oils smell pretty in candles when they’re cold but tend to not provide very much throw (fragrance) when lit. If you do want to use them, measure enough liquid in weight to match 7-8% of your total recipe weight. You’ll need a kitchen scale for this and with two lbs of soy wax aim for approximately 36 grams or 1.25 oz.
1. The first step is putting your Diamond Tech Crafts G2 Bottle Cutter together following its enclosed instructions. It has a little bit on it that scores (cuts) glass leaving a decent scratch mark where the glass will eventually break. Adjust this cutting area so that it cuts about 3.5 inches from the bottom of your bottles. Now create the scores – they’ll look like the image below when you’re finished.
2. Fill one pot with near boiling water and the second pot with near freezing water. Add ice cubes to your cold water to keep it very cold. Take your first bottle and hold it in the cold water, so that the score line is submerged, for ten to twenty seconds. Then then lift it out and place it in the hot water so that the score line is submerged for another ten to twenty seconds.
3. Keep passing the bottle between the pots until the score line cracks and the top of the bottle pops off the bottom. I’ve found that this works best if the water temperature in each pot is VERY cold and VERY hot. Please don’t be tempted to create another score line if you feel your bottle isn’t cooperating – usually the new score line won’t be exactly in the same spot as the original and it will cause the bottle to break unevenly. Instead, adjust the temperatures of your water. Keep a few extra bottles on hand just in case though.
4. You should aim for four to five candles to fill so once you have these, allow them to dry and then use sandpaper to file the sharp edges down. It only takes a minute or so but be careful not to scratch the glass further down from the lip of the container.
5. Heat your soy wax in a double boiler – you can use the same two pans you used in steps 2-3 providing that one of them fits inside the other. Basically, fill the bottom pan with boiling water and set the second pan (which is filled with your wax) inside it. The heat from the water below is gentler and more even than direct heat.
The wax will melt quickly and once it is all liquid take the pan off the heat (out of the pan of hot water) and allow the wax to cool to between 125-135 degrees F. Other instructions will tell you higher temperatures but I’ll tell you that this is definitely hot enough for the wax to bond properly with your fragrance or essential oils. If you’ve chosen to use fragrance, stir it in for at least a couple of minutes to ensure it’s well mixed.
6. While your soy wax is cooling (step 5), fix the bottoms of your wicks (which come with metal tabs) to the bottoms of your wine bottle containers. You can use a hot glue gun, or Blu-Tack, the gummy adhesive that I use: Blu-Tack Reusable Adhesive
If you’re using traditional wicks, you’ll also need to secure the top so that it doesn’t fall over when you pour the wax in. The cheapest and easiest solution is to use a pair of wooden chopsticks from your local Chinese takeaway. The way my mind works, I’d probably see this craft project as a good excuse to order in some takeaway too! ha!
7. Pour the wax into the glass containers using a Pyrex jug or some sort of a plastic jug with a spout, leaving only about a centimeter (1/4 to 1/2″) space at the top. Leave the wax to harden overnight and in the meantime clean up your pot, jug, and any utensils that are covered in wax. Soy wax is easy to clean up with boiling water but try to not pour the water down your drains as it can harden and block them.
An issue you might encounter with this step is called ‘Drag’ and refers to uneven adherence of the wax to the inside of the glass. It’s purely cosmetic and I’ve found it helps if you heat the glass jars to the same temperature as the wax before you pour it in. I’ve also noticed that allowing candles to harden up in a room that’s cold will also affect your chances of drag.
8. Use a pair of scissors to trip both your traditional and wooden wicks to the same height as the lip of the container and you’re finished! Decorate it with ribbons, fresh greenery, acrylic paint, or box it up in natural kraft gift boxes and you have beautiful handmade candles that anyone would love to receive as a present. I know I would.