How to Make Wine Bottle Candles
Transform empty wine bottles into creative & beautiful wine bottle candles. Includes tips on cutting the bottle & filling it with natural wax and a DIY video.
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Have any empty wine bottles? You might have a load of them after a celebration or be able to pick them up from the local recycling bin. Either way, they have quite a few uses, from watering plants to creating buildings. One really lovely way to use them though is to cut them in half and use the bottom part to make wine bottle candles.
The process includes scoring the glass, using hot and cold to stimulate a break, and then filling the glass with a wick and scented wax. If you use wooden wicks, as I have, then you and your friends will enjoy the flickering light and crackling of a mini fireplace. Once made, you can gift them over the holidays or save them for birthdays or other occasions. Make sure to keep a couple for yourself though!
Cut Wine Bottles by Creating a Score Line
You’ll need specialty candle-making materials and about two hours to make these. You will also require a special tool for scoring the glass that you can get here. This is the exact tool I use and it comes with easy-to-read instructions. If you don’t score the glass in a perfect line all around the bottle then your break line will likely come out jagged. That’s why the tool is so important.
What you’ll need to make wine bottle candles
There are quite a few ingredients that you’ll need to make these candles. Some you might have on hand already and others you can get from a candle-making supply shop or an online retailer. Links to where you can get items online are below:
- 4-5 empty wine bottles, cleaned and with labels removed (a few extra would be wise for ‘just in case’)
- Bottle Cutter
- Digital Thermometer
- Two large pots
- Soy Wax
- Wooden Wicks or traditional wicks
- Glue gun or Blu Tak
- Optional: Candle Fragrance
- Optional: Essential oils – unfortunately, essential oils don’t tend to give off much of a scent when used in candles. 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.
Step 1: Create the Score Line
The first step is putting your Bottle Cutter together following its enclosed instructions. It has a little bit on it that scores (cuts) glass leaving a 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 score lines.
More Creative Candle Ideas
Step 2: Freezing and heating the glass
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. Hold the first bottle in the cold water, so that the score line is submerged, for ten to twenty seconds. Then lift it out and place it in the hot water so that the score line is submerged for another ten to twenty seconds.
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.
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.
Dry and sand the edges of the Wine Bottle Candle
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.
Heat the Wax
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 the correct temperature to add the fragrance. Each type of natural wax is different, and even among the different branded soy waxes, you’ll see different temperatures. Usually, it’s around 150 degrees F but one brand I use is closer to 170 degrees F. When you pour in the fragrance, gently stir the mix for at least a couple of minutes.
Fix the Wicks in the Wine Bottle Candles
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.
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!
Fill the Wine Bottle Candles
Pour the wax into the glass containers using a Pyrex jug or some sort of 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. In the meantime, clean your pot, jug, and any utensils 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.
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.
Wine Bottle Candle FAQs
- “Will the glass of the wine bottle get too hot?” If you use the correct wick for the diameter of the glass, and natural wax such as soy wax, then I’ve found the glass will warm but not get hot.
- “What can I do with the glass after the candle is gone?” If you’ve made wine bottle candles and have used up the candle inside, wash the glass with soapy water and pour new candle wax inside with new wicks.
- “My wine bottle split in half but there’s a jagged edge. How do I fix this?” Unfortunately, I’ve not found a way to fix this. I have used these types of bottles anyway, but have spent a bit more time sanding down the ragged edge.
How much soy or beeswax is needed per candle? I don’t want to start this project and have bought too little wax to complete it.
I want to start making these but I read that wine bottles were not meant to withstand heat and therefore burning a candle can cause the glass to shatter/explode. Have you done any research about it/found a solution for that? I’m curious because I got very sad when I found this out and don’t want to give people a product that can be an extra risk.
I can’t say anything regarding making these as a saleable product. What I can say is that I’ve used wine bottle candles (with soy wax) for many years and have had no issue with them shattering/exploding. Soy wax melts at a much lower temperature than paraffin or beeswax and can be much safer to use in general. It’s also easy to clean out of the wine bottle candles with a bit of hot water. Then you can reuse the glass to pour a new candle in! I’ve done this many times.
Is there a way to keep the label on the bottle or do I need to remove it before cutting?
I’ve never tried it with the label on, but imagine that it would get soggy from the water.
I make candles from wine bottles all the time and leave the label on. Even if the label gets wet, it will dry and usually looks like nothing ever happened. I also use rubber rings that you place on the bottle, one on either side of the score. It creates a channel for pouring the hot & cold water. The result is less damage to your label and a very straight break in the glass. Good luck!
Will give a try. Afraid cutting the bottles. Should buy some kits for it.
Hello! Any tips so that the glass doesn’t split down the sides and break on other parts of the bottle besides the line? I am feeling like quite the failure.
Hi Alex! The trick is making sure that the scored line does not have any breaks. That means scoring the line completely without any stops in the middle. Any place where you stop and re-start the score line will be a potential place for a crack down the side.
Just spent the afternoon making these! So lovely! Your instructions are great, too. I’ll be making more. Thank you!
Fantastic — happy to hear of another DIY wine bottle candle success story :)
If your are going to cut your own bottles get a kit that scores the glass. The burning twine videos on YouTube are just bottle breakers. I also recommend the water dams to contain the hot and cold water you’ll use and some HEAVY DUTY diamond sanding pads (ALWAYS WET SAND – glass dust will seriously mess up your lungs).
Hi Tanya, I am interested in trying this, but all my wine bottles have i dimple in the bottom. Have you used these kind of bottles before, and can you give me any hints for leveling the bottom to get the wick in. I am also concerned with safety with these bottles.
I’ve made some with the dimple in too – just fix your wick on top of the dimple. It will burn down and leave the soy wax below it though. Otherwise look for flat bottomed bottles.
As for safety, what are you concerned about?
You might try pouring a little resin in the bottom. I’ve done this with the dimpled bottles and it works great to create a flat bottom.
This is fantastic – I’ve done a few so far. One question – can I re-use the soy wax if there’s some left over? i.e. not enough to fill another candle or maybe leaving it to the next day?
I get clean breaks by tying twine around the bottle, soaking the twine w/ alcohol, igniting it then plunging into cold water as soon as flame dies. Sandpapers smooth easily.
Wow, This is an amazing activity you just did. I can’t believe how beautifully it is done and a perfect and awesome looking candle are made. I love this share please keep posting.
Have a nice day
Thanks Jessica :) I really appreciate your feedback! Do you think you’ll make some of your own?
loved your project and loved it even more when i saw you used a bottle of Chilean Wine to do it :) im chilean. ;) It's name is Casillero del Diablo (devil's locker) :D
That's some good wine and I'm pleased to know the meaning of the name now! Thanks for visiting Paz and good luck making your own wine bottle candles :)
Well, I have to say, after reading your blog a few weeks ago, I went ahead and bought the g2 cutter….it works! The one thing I recommend…use more sandpaper than the G2 kit gives….I bought a bottle cutter finishing kit of sandpaper from Amazon…and that kit recommends going through 5 different grits! Well, I don't think I'd use them for drinking glasses…however they are safe to handle and what darling candles they make!
Thanks for the idea….now I have another craft…..
Fantastic! So pleased you're using the tool with success :)
Hey dear! Any tools on avoiding extra breaks or a wavy jagged break? I can't seem to get a clean break. I have the same tool and avoid double scoring
Try pouring the hot and cold water directly over the crack Alicia. Hope you have better luck!
I’ve been cutting bottles and so far 4 out of 5 are keepers, I noticed that if I pour my hot/ cold water directly/ evenly on score line , less chance of it cracking in other spots. I’m going to try making a dam with rubber bands.. Good luck
Such a lovely idea. Thank you :)
Hope you give it a try Anita :)
Good idea! It is possible to use bee wax? What do you think about it? Petra
Good idea! It is possible to use bee wax? What do you think about it? Petra
Absolutely! Beeswax makes great candles