If you’re an avid candle lover, you will know all too well how expensive a high-quality candle can be. However, making your own candles can be easy and affordable. The beauty of candle-making is that you can create the candles of your dreams using your favourite pigments and scents, and you can control the type of wax you use.
So, if you’re fed up of paying the high prices of shop-bought candles, it might be time to start getting creative. It can be daunting to make your very first candle from scratch, but follow the steps below and you will realise that it does not have to be difficult. Once you’ve done your first few candles, you will find your groove.
Soy candles are made from soy wax, which is extracted from soy beans. The beans are picked, cleaned, and prepared, before being cold pressed to produce oil. This oil gets hydrogenated, which turns the unsaturated fatty acids in the oil into saturated fatty acids, thereby turning it from a liquid to a solid wax at room temperature. Its melting point varies depending on the quality of the soy, but most of them require a temperature of at least 50°C/130°F.
Even if you’re a pro at making paraffin wax candles, you might need a little practise working with soy. Soy wax has a lower melting point, so melts much more quickly.
Benefits of using soy wax
- Soy wax mixes easily with fragrance oils, meaning you can produce candles that provide a strong, long-lasting scent
- Soy candles are better for the environment as they do not release toxic chemicals into the air when they burn
- They are carbon-neutral because they aren’t made from crude oil like paraffin wax
- They burn a cleaner flame do not produce soot
- They burn more slowly than paraffin wax, so they last much longer
- Soy candles retain the scents of essential oils better
- Soy wax is easy to clean up with just soap and warm water
What you will need to make your own soy candle
- Soy flakes for the wax
- Containers or jars for the candle (glass, ceramic, or metal)
- Wicks (cotton or wooden)
- Essential oils to add fragrance (optional)
- Double boiler to mix and melt the max
- Measuring cup
- Tape or glue dots
How to make Soy Candles at home
Here is a simple step-by-step guide on how to create your own soy candles.
Gather your materials
This step is pretty self-explanatory, but before you start making your soy candle, gather together all of your materials. You don’t want to be half way through making your soy candles, and then remember you completely forgot to buy containers for them!
Prepare your wicks
If you are buying pre-made wicks, there is little preparation you need to do here. If you’re making your own wicks, check my article ‘How to Make a Candle Wick’. They’re easy enough to do, but they require a bit of time to prepare from scratch so make sure to decide whether or not you want to make your own wicks before you start making your candles.
Use some tape to attach the wick to the bottom of the container. Get a skewer and press the wick into the tape. You then need something to hold the wick upright. You could use either a sandwich bag clipper or another skewer.
Alternatively, you can use a glue dot to stick the base of the wick in the container. Whatever you do, do not use a hot glue gun to stick your wick down. The hot wax will just heat up the glue when you fill the container, making it useless.
Measure out your wax
For the wax, you have to calculate how much you need for the number of candles you want to make. Soy wax comes in flakes. Generally, you use double the amount of wax flakes. For example, if your candle containers hold 1 cup of liquid each, you will need to measure out two cups of wax flakes.
Melt your wax
Using a double boiler, melt your wax until it has completely liquified. A double boiler involves boiling water and using the steam that is created to heat the wax. You can buy these, or make your own DIY version. If you don’t have a double boiler and want to make your own, check my article ‘Can You Make Candles Without a Double Boiler?’
Make sure to keep an eye on the temperature of your wax and keep stirring it. Ideally, keep it around 80°C/180°F. Once the wax has fully melted, remove the double boiler from the heat and allow it to cool before adding your essential oils.
An alternative option if you don’t want to use a double boiler or a pan is using the microwave to melt your wax. Make sure to use a microwave-safe container, add your wax, and heat it for one to two minutes at a time, stirring between each interval. However, be careful because wax melts faster in a microwave compared to a double boiler. Keep a close eye on the mixture as you slowly heat it and be sure not to burn or overheat the wax.
Add your essential oils
Allow the wax to cool to 50°C/130°F. If you want to make your candles scented, add in your fragrance oils at this stage. The reason you shouldn’t add the oils to the melted wax immediately is because the high heat will decrease the scent of your oils.
The amount of oil you add will depend on how scented you want the candle to be. It’s a bit of trial and error, and some people use as little as 50 drops, whilst others use as many as 100 per bowl. Start at 50 drops and if you feel like the scent is not strong enough when you burn your finished candle, you can always add more next time.
Be aware that certain essential oils or fragrance oils might not work well in soy wax. Check the labels of your oils beforehand to prevent any problems. See the FAQs for some more information on which types of essential oils are best to use.
Pour the wax into your containers
Carefully pour the melted wax into your containers. Make sure you don’t break the wick or knock it over.
Finalise the candles
Allow the candles to fully cool and set overnight. Trim the wicks so about 1 inch of the wick remains above the surface of the wax.
If you’re selling your candles, add the lids, pop your printed brand labels on the containers ready to package and distribute to your customers.
How much wax do I need to use for one candle?
The general rule in candle making is 2 cups of wax flakes for 1 cup of liquid. So, if you have a container that holds 1 cup, you need to use 2 cups of soy wax flakes. If you’re still unsure, simply fill a cup with flakes and add double the amount of liquid.
Why should I use soy wax?
Soy wax is natural, unlike paraffin wax that is obtained from crude oil. Soy candles burn with a clean flame and do not produce soot or toxic carcinogens like paraffin wax. This makes them much safer than paraffin alternatives.
If you want to add scent to your candle, soy wax mixes well with fragrance oil compared to other wax alternatives.
What about beeswax?
Beeswax is a natural wax that can be used in candles. However, compared to soy wax, it is harder to add pigments or scents to. It’s also more expensive.
What essential oils should I use?
Essential oils can be split into three tiers: top notes, middles notes and base notes.
Top notes are those that you smell before you even light the candle, and they are usually less expensive. Examples include cinnamon, grapefruit, orange, and peppermint
Middle note essential oils are softer. You probably won’t smell them at first but their scent comes through as the wax starts to melt. Examples of these include black pepper, chamomile, and lavender
Base notes evaporate more slowly, so you won’t smell these until the candle has been lit for a while. They are the ones that leave that lingering scent for a few hours after you’ve blown out the flame. Examples of these are cedarwood, jasmine, rose, and vanilla
A good place to start is using a combination of all three tiers. Depending on what scents are your favourite, mix and match different oils to see which combination you like best. Remember to leave the fragrant mixture and come back to give it a sniff after 15 minutes or so, to get a good idea of how they will smell in your candles.
Do I need to worry about flash point?
If you find your candles seem to have no scent when you burn them, even though you’ve added a bunch of oil, the flash point might be the reason why you can’t smell anything!
Fragrance oil flash point is a term used to describe the temperature at which a substance will ignite if it comes into contact with an open flame or spark. It’s the temperature at which the scent will start to evaporate. Before you use oils into your candle wax, you definitely need to understand flash points.
Each fragrance oil will have a unique flash point. If you want to use more than one fragrance oil in one soy candle, you can work from the highest flash point.
I keep getting cracks in my candle. How do I avoid this?
As long as you follow the steps above, you should not get cracks in your wax once it has set. Try leaving your wax to cool a bit before pouring it into the containers. Also make sure your containers are no cooler than room temperature when you’re filling them with your wax.
Follow these simple steps to start making your own soy candles. Try different combinations of fragrance oils to see which you like best. Once you’re done, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your new candles. When you’ve perfected your soy candle-making technique, you could even consider selling your candles and turning your passion into a small business.