So. Us MNB girls REALLY wanted to make DIY Soy Candles for our lovely readers to make and give their mums (and because we really wanted to give our own mums soy candles – handmade with care, non-toxic, deliciously scented, relaxing, slow burning, what’s not to love??) but there was a delay with our candle making supplies arriving – apparently Pink Grapefruit essential oil is a dangerous substance that can’t be shipped via air – so it looked like an impossibility.
HOWEVER. To our surprise and excitement, the package arrived yesterday afternoon! Cue heading home without the camera – thus the phone pictures, please forgive the poor quality, yes it’s embarrassing since it’s my job to take the photos for MNB – and it’s DIY time! At the last minute I was joined by my lovely friend Davina, who is responsible for the gorgeous illustrations and designs on the blog. So grateful she did, because I will preface this DIY by saying it is DEFINITELY easier with two people.
Shall we begin?
Firstly, a list of our equipment and supplies:
- Containers. Any old glass or ceramic container will do – the only thing to note is the width of container, and the height. Tall, thin containers don’t work; really wide containers may need multiple wicks. You’re better off having extra containers you don’t fill then having left over wax sitting in your pot, so collect more rather than less
- Measuring cup or shot glass – anything you can use to measure your essential oils.
- Soy wax flakes (it took 2kg to make all these candles.) We got most of our candle making needs from Aussie Candle Supplies
- Pure essential oils or fragrances. Essential oils are stronger; fragrances are made from a combination of essential oils and aroma ingredients or synthetic ingredients, depending on where you purchase them from. You can of course create your own scents using multiple essential oils, but we aren’t that brave. We purchased French Lavender and Pink Grapefruit.
- Sticky dots
- Wicks (measure the width of your containers, and buy your wicks according to that width. Wherever you’re purchasing your supplies from, the wicks should be annotated something like this: ‘Glassware suggested diameter – 5-5.5cm.’)
- Chopsticks or icy pole sticks
- A saucepan or pot that has a pouring lip
- A bigger saucepan to put the smaller pot in
- Candy thermometer
- Wooden spoon
- Old newspaper
- Clean teatowel
Step 1: Clean and dry your containers thoroughly. If you’re like me and you pulled them out of the back of the cupboard, they’re covered in dust, which you don’t really want in your candles.
Step 2: Put sticky dots on the bottom of each wick, then attach to the center of each container. Make sure you press them down hard so they won’t move when the hot wax is poured in. Trim your wicks so there are only a couple of centimeters of wick sticking up over the lip of your container.
Step 3: Don’t heat your wax over direct heat or flame; you do not want it to flashover! Fill the larger saucepan about halfway with water. Put your wax in the smaller saucepan, then place it in the larger saucepan. (You’re creating a DIY double boiler.)
Step 4: Slowly heat your wax over low-medium heat, until all the wax melts and reaches 85 degrees Celsius. You want to be stirring as this is happening. Don’t be tempted to crank the heat up to speed up the process; we don’t want anything burning or flashing over. Yep it’s the boring part of the job; have patience it takes a while! (This is why it’s great to have another person – you can chat away while you’re doing something that’s as interesting as watching paint dry. Or alternatively, your friend can do step 1-2 while you heat the wax – and you can talk at the same time – efficient!)
Step 5: Take the saucepan off the heat, and remove the smaller saucepan from the larger saucepan. When the wax cools to 70 degrees, you can add your essential oil. The bottle will say 4-10% or something similar; this is the percentage of oil used to quantity of wax. We wanted pretty smelly candles, so we went with 6%. (Don’t do it earlier; some essential oils have low flash points meaning they will ignite at more than 70 deg!)
Step 6: (While you’re doing step 5, it’s a good idea to get your friend to do this step 6.) Heat the outside of the jars with a hairdryer. This is for two reasons; to encourage the wax to stick to the sides of the jar, and to prevent the glass from cracking as it goes from a cold temperature to a hot one. Don’t heat the insides directly; this can cause the sticky dot to heat up and stop sticking, or the wick to blow around. If you heat for long enough, the insides will grow warm.
Step 7: Once the wax has cooled to 60 degrees, you can pour it! Spread out some old newspaper. Pop your icy-pole sticks/chopsticks either side of the wicks to keep it stable… Pour! Leave some space at the top of the containers – a completely full container gets pretty dangerous when there’s hot wax involved.
Step 8: Don’t disturb your candles until they set. (So my kitchen bench wasn’t really the best choice. I almost knocked one over when I picked up an apple.) As you can see the candles will cool at different speeds depending on the size and shape of your containers. The temperature of the room will also affect this process; it might only take a couple of hours but it’s always safer to leave it overnight.
Step 9:Trim your wicks right back to a normal candle length. Wrap it up in some really pretty paper and give to Mum!
*Side note, we have also tried making candles in some tea tins, but we can’t guarantee that these receptacles will work! We shall see what happens when we light them…