Learn how to make soy candles with this simple step-by-step tutorial. These natural handmade candles make perfect gifts!
Natural soy candles are the perfect handmade gifts! When I first started researching natural candles, I quickly learned that candle-making is trickier than I had imagined.
What’s more, every guide and tutorial I found recommended weighing out the wax and fragrance oils, using a double-boiler, etc. I never found the ultra-simple guide I was looking for, so I’m writing it myself.
If you want to make soy wax melts, check out this tutorial. Wax melts are also a great way to use up any extra scented wax left over after you pour your candles.
How To Make Soy Candles
Let’s get started!
- natural soy wax flakes or pellets (I got mine here- plus this set came with wicks and wick holders!)
- mason jars or other glass containers with lids (I used these cute yogurt jars– they come with corks and cute tags too, and these larger mason jars)
- candle wicks (you can choose wood wicks or cotton- we’ll discuss more below)
- candle fragrance oils
- large glass measuring cup
- 1 Tablespoon measuring spoon
- wick holders (optional) (these came with the soy wax)
- meat thermometer
- hot glue gun & glue sticks
B. Brajttt Favor Jars with Cork Lids (30)– these come with cute tags too!
1. Measure The Wax
With these natural soy wax flakes, I found that about 4 cups will melt down to about 2 cups.
2. Melt the Wax
Use a microwave-safe glass measuring cup. Heat the wax, starting with one-minute increments. Stir it thoroughly each time. After two one-minute sessions in the microwave, cut the time down to 30 seconds.
3. Check the Temperature
If you plan to add fragrance oil to your candles, you’ll want to heat your soy wax to approximately 185 degrees. If your wax gets too hot, you can either wait for it to cool, or stir in a small handful of wax flakes. This folding digital meat thermometer made it easy to check the temperature.
4. Add Fragrance Oils
Add about 3 Tablespoons of fragrance oil to 2 cups of melted wax. Stir it thoroughly with a fork, and continue to stir for about 2 minutes to ensure everything is well-incorporated.
Notice how you can see the oil, still not fully incorporated in the picture below? You’ll want to keep stirring until the wax looks clear again. It may take a few minutes.
5. Let The Wax Cool Slightly
Now let the soy wax cool until it starts to look cloudy. While you wait, you can prep your containers and wicks.
6. Prep Containers & Wicks
For the cotton wicks, use a hot glue gun to add a dot of glue to the bottom of the wick and attach it to the bottom center of the container.
7. Secure the Wick
Use a wick holder to hold the wick in place. The wick will soften and bend once you add hot wax to the container, so it’s important to keep the wick in place. These handy metal wick holders came with the wax I bought on Amazon.
8. Pour Wax
Once the wax has begun to cool and it’s starting to look a little cloudy, it’s time to pour your candles. If you pour the wax when it’s too hot, it can separate from the sides of your container. This isn’t a huge deal, but it will look better if you let it cool.
Carefully pour the wax into the jars, about 1/4 inch from where you want the top to be. You’ll do a second pour after it cools to fill it the rest of the way and add any decoration to the top.
9. Let It Cool
Let the candles cool completely. This may take an hour or two, depending on the size of your jars. You may notice that the tops of the candles have some holes and uneven spots, but don’t worry. We’re going to do a second pour after this one cools and hardens, so save a little bit of scented wax in your measuring cup.
10. Final Pour & Add Decoration
Pop your wax back into the microwave for 30 seconds, or until it’s just melted. Then carefully pour just enough wax to cover the top of the existing candle and fill in any holes. Now you can sprinkle on a few dried flowers, bits of orange peel, cloves, or whatever you like. It’s important to make sure they are small, since they will burn.
11. Trim the Wick
Use scissors to trim the wick. The wood wicks are very thin, so any scissors should work.
12. Let It Cure
Scented candles need to cure for a minimum of three days, in order to give off maximum scent when you burn them (known as “hot throw” in the candle making world). The ideal cure time for natural waxes like soy and beeswax is more like 2-3 weeks. But I’m not an especially patient girl. It’s also important to keep them covered, which is why I chose glass containers with lids for my DIY candles.
Soy Wax vs. Paraffin Wax
What Size Wick Should I Use?
The size and number of wicks should be determined by the width of your candle container. In order to get the most life and enjoyment (burn time and hot throw) from your candle, the goal is for the hot wax pool to fill the entire width of the container, like this:
See how the melted wax goes all the way to the edges of these jars? Keep in mind these candles had been burning for at least an hour when I took these photos.
I originally tried using a single cotton wick for this size of container, and when the candle burned, it only created a small wax pool in the center. This leaves all the wax around the edges untouched and going to waste.
I ended up ordering wood wicks to use with these larger jars, and as you can see above, they are just right. They also give a fancier au natural vibe to the candles. You can also use two or more wicks to get a larger wax pool in a wider candle.
Can I Make Candles With Essential Oils?
I was originally planning to use essential oils in my all-natural candles. But after some experimenting (read wasting A LOT of expensive essential oils in my first few batches of candles!), I realized that this just doesn’t work. I was bummed to realize this, but still determined to make gorgeous DIY scented candles.
If you want to make the most of your essential oils, I recommend diffusing them instead. I also love to use them to make homemade bath salts, chapstick, bath bombs, hand lotion, foot scrub, etc.
There are natural plant-derived fragrance oils for candle making, but they’re difficult to come by, and a bit pricey. I have some on order, and I’ll update this post once I’ve had a chance to test them out.
Can I Add Decorative Elements to My Candles?
If you want to add decoration to your candles, I recommend using very small bits of decorative items, such as tiny dried flowers, fir needles, bits of lemon or orange peel, cloves, etc. You can check out my ultra-simple dried orange peel tutorial here.
Remember that whatever you incorporate into your candles will eventually burn, and larger items can be a fire hazard. Not to mention smell bad when they burn, and turn black. See what happened when I added a bunch of pine needles to this candle? It looked fine until I burned it… and then this:
I also found that it’s almost impossible to get the larger decorative items to show on the sides of your candle once the wax hardens.
I had this fabulous idea to make large candles with dried orange slices around the outside. But it just didn’t really work. See what I mean?
I haven’t tried it yet, but I suspect that this would be more successful with paraffin wax, which is more traslucent than soy when it hardens. So you would theoretically be able to see the orange slices better.
You can’t even really see the orange slices. I ended up using the dried orange slices to decorate the outsides of the candle jars instead, and I think it looks MUCH better!