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.
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!
The wine bottles will need a perfect score
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: Make 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 scores. They’ll look like the image below when you’re finished.
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. Take your first bottle and hold it in the cold water, so that the scoreline is submerged, for ten to twenty seconds. Then lift it out and place it in the hot water so that the scoreline is submerged for another ten to twenty seconds.
Keep passing the bottle between the pots until the scoreline 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 scoreline if you feel your bottle isn’t cooperating. Usually, the new scoreline 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
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
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!
Make 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 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.
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.
More Creative Upcycling Inspiration
If you’re into using found and recycled materials to make beautiful things, check out these other fun ideas:
- Make a Glowing Sea Glass Candle
- Beautiful Ombre Candles in Glass Jars
- Upcycled Succulent Planter
- DIY Pallet Planter