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My sister-in-law, Ruth, messaged me a few months ago and asked if I would like to make beeswax candles with her. She liked to use candles while she homeschooled her kids and wanted a more natural version than the ones she bought at the store.
I said absolutely I do — and I’ll take pictures so I can post it to the Making Life.
I’ve been doing a ton of research about candle making and beeswax and I can’t WAIT to share what I learned with you. So here’s the guide I’m giving to the world to teach you how to make beeswax candles. I hope you enjoy it!
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Why Make Beeswax Candles
First thing’s first. Why should you make beeswax candles?
I guess the first reason is that it’s really fun to make candles and it’s fun to know how to make something you can use in your home.
But why beeswax instead of another type of wax? I’ll give you my top reasons:
- It’s NATURAL. Soy wax is more natural than paraffin wax, but if we’re on a scale of 1 to natural, beeswax scores the highest.
- Because it’s natural, you’re not putting any artificial chemicals or harmful toxins into the air when you’re burning them.
- Beeswax candles have a high melting point so they tend to last longer than other waxes with a lower melting point (like soy).
- Beeswax candles naturally smell good (no oils necessary unless you want to add them).
- Eco-friendly! Beeswax is a sustainable source of beeswax that’s made from a natural source so it’s better for the environment than some alternatives.
Safety Tips for Candlemaking and Burning Candles
First and foremost consider this my *disclaimer* for candlemaking. I am *not* a candle making expert. I can share with you what I think are the safety tips for candlemaking, but ultimately I’m not responsible for the safety of the candles you make or during your candle making process.
As I learn more about making candles there are some real safety measures that you can take to ensure that your candles burn more safely. This is important for your own home use and especially if you’re planning on selling candles to other people. (Do keep in mind that if you plan on selling candles to people that it’s a good idea to look into insurance in the event that something would happen with one of your candles).
Safety for Candle Making
- Never leave melting wax unattended. This is probably the most critical safety precaution you can take. If you have to walk away from your project, remove the wax from its heat source and come back to it when you’re able to give it your full attention. Beeswax is especially flammable which is something to keep in mind.
- Do not heat beeswax in the microwave. It’s not recommended to melt beeswax in the microwave. Beeswax has a high melting point and it can catch fire or explode in the microwave.
- Don’t let your wax get too hot. You can test the temperature of your wax with a thermometer to make sure it’s not getting too hot. According to Brambleberry, the best pouring temperature is between 155 and 160 degrees. Beeswax will also begin scorching at about 200 degrees.
- Choose the right wick size. Choosing a wick size that’s too large can result in a candle that burns very hot. This can make it an unsafe candle.
- Melt wax with the correct materials. When you melt the wax, it’s important to use a double boiler or something that’s specifically made for melting wax. This distributes the heat and keeps your wax from becoming dangerously hot.
- Use an electric stove if possible. It’s safer to melt wax on an electric stove than a gas one. In the event that the wax reaches the flashpoint, it’s less dangerous than a gas flame. If the vapors come in contact with the flame it could ignite those vapors. If you have a gas stove, you can purchase a small electric burner just for wax melting projects.
- Use heat-safe containers for your wax candles. It’s recommended to use the right kind of container for candles. A lot of people like to use mason jars because they’re built for heat. You can also use ceramic and sealed metal tins. Avoid plastic, wood, thin glass, etc.
- Use containers that are shaped for candles. Don’t use containers that are small on top and big at the bottom, or ones that can tip over. They won’t burn well and they’re a fire hazard.
- Test. Test. Test. If you talk to any professional candle maker they’ll say one of the most important aspects of the job is testing your work. If your wick size is too big or too small, you can adjust for it in the next batch. If something is wrong with the setup you can catch it in the testing phase.
Safety Tips for Burning Candles
- Don’t leave burning candles unattended. This is the theme of the day. If you’re melting something or burning something — don’t leave it unattended. Don’t do what my hyperactive brain does and try to do 100 other things before you remember you turned the stove on and whatever you were cooking is probably now burning. If you’re not planning on staying in the same room with your candle, blow it out.
- Don’t burn a candle near something that might light on fire. This seems like a total obvious, but sometimes you might not realize that the table you’re lighting your candle on is also very near your curtains. Curtains + fire = disaster.
- Keep candles away from children and animals. Not only will your children try to slide their fingers over the flame like they’re some kind of magician, there’s also a high chance of them knocking the candle off the table. (This would also be a good opportunity to teach your kids about fire safety and safety around candles!)
- Don’t put your candles near flames or vents. Keeping your candles away from air currents will keep it from uneven burning or shooting.
- Don’t move candles while they’re burning. Once your candle is lit, keep it put.
- Put your candle on a stable flat surface. Try to avoid putting your candle on something that can easily fall over or on a surface where it could slide off.
- Don’t burn a candle for more than three hours to four hours. It’s recommended not to let your candles burn more than three to four hours, and to stop burning a container candle when it’s reached half an inch of wax at the bottom. This can help avoid getting the container too hot and accidentally causing a fire.
What Supplies Do You Need to Make Beeswax Candles
- Heat safe candle containers – There are some really cute choices on Amazon, or you can try upcycling jars for candles. I really enjoyed using the leftover yeast jars I used up making bread and pizza.
- Wicks. I had wicks that I bought from Bulk Apothecary, but your wicks should be sized appropriately for the candle you’re making. Amazon also has a selection of wicks you can purchase, or you can purchase them from Candlescience, a candle making company. I’m not an affiliate of Candlescience or Bulk Apothecary, but a lot of people who make candles recommend using Candlescience products.
- Double boiler. A double boiler or a double boiler system is necessary for melting your beeswax. I use a candle pouring pot in a pot of water.
- Beeswax. The beeswax of course! Clean nice beeswax for making warm beautiful candles. If you have unclean wax, you can follow our guide to rendering beeswax so you’re ready to make candles.
- Coconut Oil. You don’t have to include coconut oil in your candles, but we used it in ours to help it burn more smoothly and evenly.
- Hot glue gun. I use a hot glue gun to keep my wicks in place, but you can also use wick stickers.
- Wick holder. You can use lots of different things to keep your wick in place, but I do like using these wick holders.
- Kitchen scale. A kitchen scale is helpful when you measure the weight of your beeswax.
- Fragrance oil. You can add fragrance oil to your candles if you wish, Candlescience has a line of fragrances that are supposed to be more natural than some other choices. However, I like the natural smell of beeswax candles!
- A temperature gun. A temperature gun allows you to check the heat of the wax without putting the device in the wax.
Where to Get Beeswax
You can order beeswax from:
- Local beekeepers
- Your own hives
- Bulk Apothecary
- Etsy from small sellers
- Bramble Berry
- Crystal’s Honey
- Bill’s Bees
- Beelite Candles
I personally can’t vouch for the above suppliers, except Bulk Apothecary which I have purchased from before. I would say I like my own beeswax the best, partly because I like the process of rendering the beeswax and knowing that it came directly from our own bees. I’ve also heard other people say that the best beeswax comes from local beekeepers. These tend to have the highest aroma scent.
A nice perk of buying from a place like Amazon or Bulk Apothecary is that they’ll likely be highly refined already which means a cleaner burn. Beeswax that you get from your local beekeeper is probably not filtered or will need to be filtered again. I mentioned it above, but here again, is our guide for rendering and cleaning beeswax.
You can take honey comb that looks like this:
And turn it into this:
Step 1: Melt Your Beeswax in a Double Boiler
After much ado, let’s get to the BEESWAX CANDLE MAKING!
Step one is to melt your wax in a double boiler. You can also make your own double boiler by placing a bowl or pouring pot in another pot of boiling water. The trick (which took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out) is to put only a couple of inches in the pot of water. If you’re using a pouring pitcher like I do, this will help keep your pitcher from floating in the water. It also helps to put in enough wax to give the pitcher some weight.
Alternatively, you can put a metal or glass bowl on the pot of hot water to serve as a double boiler.
We mixed 1/4 cup coconut oil to one pound of beeswax. This is where our kitchen scale would come in handy!
Here it is in a pouring pot:
This is what it looks like melting on the stove:
As always when working with beeswax, I recommend having pots and utensils completely dedicated to the project. Beeswax is notorious for NOT coming off of surfaces, so once you use a pot or utensil for beeswax, expect to continue using it for that purpose.
Oh, and I also always say *don’t pour beeswax down the drain.* It’ll clog your drains and stay there forever.
Step 2: Add Your Wicks
While your beeswax is melting, the next step is to add your wicks to your jars. You can use a wick sticker to put them in place, but I use a hot glue gun to stick my wicks to the bottom of my jars. Trust me, you want to stick it to the bottom of the jar instead of letting it free float. It’ll save you a lot of headaches. Do your best to put the wick in the middle of the jar. That’ll help it burn and melt the best when it comes time to light it.
I tend to wait to cut my wicks until after I pour them, and I use a wick holder to keep it steady in the middle. Some people cut their wicks once they’re placed. That’s up to you and what you think works best!
Step 3: (Optional!) Add Fragrances
We didn’t add fragrances to ours. Like I said, I already love that warm welcoming smell of melted beeswax. Plus, as my sister-in-law said, you can use your diffuser to add a scent while you let the candles bring that pretty glow to your room.
Even still, there’s something pretty fun about a scented candle. If you want to add fragrance oil to your candle, now is the time.
When the beeswax is about 160-165 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s a good time to add the fragrance oil. You can also add essential oils, but I would suggest finding out which ones are safest in a candle. In my experience, essential oils don’t throw a lot of fragrance. You have to add quite a bit of essential oils to noticeably change the smell.
For each type of fragrance, you make there’s something called “fragrance load.” A fragrance load refers to how much fragrance oil you’re supposed to use per pound of wax. A typical fragrance load is between 6 and 12 percent.
Here’s a video from Candlescience about how to do the math for how much fragrance oil to add to your candles:
This video talks about how to add your fragrance to your candles. Please note he’s talking about soy candles and essential oils. Note that he says that beeswax doesn’t bond well with essential oils. That’s not to say people never use EO in beeswax candles, it’s just generally difficult to get it to really capture that scent. Another important factor is he said not to add the FO or EO when it’s too hot because it will cause the scene to evaporate. It *does* help when you add coconut oil to your beeswax to help fuse the scent with the candle.
Step 4: Let the Wax Cool To the Proper Temperature and Pour Into Container
One thing we didn’t do when we were making our beeswax candles was to allow the beeswax to cool to a proper pouring temperature. According to Brambleberry, the proper pouring temperature for beeswax is between 155-160 degrees Fahrenheit.
The main reason to allow it to cool is to keep it caving in or creating holes when the candle solidifies (more on this later). You can use your temperature gun to check for that ideal temperature. If the beeswax starts to solidify in your pouring pot, you can heat it up again on the stove.
Look at that beautiful golden wax pouring right into the mason jar container.
It’s JUST SO PRETTY!
I definitely recommend pouring it all in one big pour. You can pour it in two, but you’ll get a noticeable line between the first and second pour.
Step 5: Allow the Beeswax Candles to Cool Completely
I know it’s hard. I do. But wait until your candles are completely solid before you move them or trim the wick. This will help keep the tops of your candles smooth and pretty.
Here’s what the candle looks like as it’s cooling:
And this is what it loos like when it’s done cooling down:
When it’s solid go ahead and trim the wick. You can cut the wick longer at this point, but professionals recommend trimming your wick down to 1/4 inch when it’s time to burn.
Wait about 24-48 hours for the candle to completely cure before you burn for the first time. Then enjoy your handmade candle! You did it! You’re a candle maker!!
Helpful Candle Making Terms
As I’m learning more about candles there are quite a few terms that candle maker use that I wasn’t familiar with. I thought I’d do a handy round-up here to help aspiring candle makers if they come across these terms.
- Burn rate – The amount of wax that melts per hour (usually measured in grams).
- Burn time – Total amount of time it takes for a candle to burn to completion.
- Cold throw – The strength of the scent of a candle before it’s lit.
- Hot throw – The strength of the scent of a candle when it’s lit.
- Fragrance oil (FO) – Fragrance oils are manufactured in a lab and are often a mix of synthetic and aromatic plant parts.
- Essential oil (EO) – Essential oils are natural oils that are made directly from aromatic plant parts.
- Fragrance load – The amount of fragrance needed per pound of wax to create the correct amount of scent.
- Melt pool (MP) – This is the liquid layer that forms at the surface of the candle when you allow the candle to completely melt the top. An ideal full melt pool is usually about 1/8 to 1/4 inches seep and spreads across the diameter of the candle. If it doesn’t cover the entire diameter it may start to form a tunnel.
- Container candle – A candle poured directly into some kind of container, as opposed to a dipped candle or a candle poured into a mold.
- Flashpoint – The temperature it would take to ignite a substance if it comes in contact with an open flame or spark.
- Melt point – The temperature when the wax will turn into liquid. Different types of wax have different melting points. For example, beeswax has a might higher melting point than soy.
- Bloom. A bloom is a dull white filmy substance that sometimes forms on wax. It’s the process of the softer oils of the beeswax rising to the surface. It doesn’t affect the usefulness of the candle, just the appearance. The bloom can be removed with a soft cloth or a hairdryer.
- Carbon deposits. Carbon deposits, sometimes called “mushrooming” is when the top of a wick mushrooms out. This can be handled by trimming the wick between uses. This will help the candle burn better.
Common Problems in Candlemaking
Sometimes when you’re making candles you’ll experience some problems. For the use-at-home group, these problems may not be as frustrating. But if you’re a perfectionist, or if you’d like to sell your candles, these problems can be really disappointing. So let’s troubleshoot some things that might come up with candle making and discuss what you can do to resolve those issues.
When we made our candles we didn’t know about pouring the wax at a certain temperature. As a result, we had some candles that sunk in the middle or created holes in the candle. Sad. To avoid this problem, try to keep your containers warm and wait to pour your wax until the wax reaches the right temperature (155-160 degrees Farenheit).
If you have tunneling like we did, you can use a heat gun to remelt the surface of the candle and fix at least part of the problem.
This is what the candles looked like before using the heat gun. Obvious sinkholes:
This is what the heat gun looks like with the candles:
Here’s what the candles looked like after the first time using the heat gun:
And this is what it looked like after the second melting. I think it looks a LOT better:
Sometimes when you light container candles, you’ll experience something called tunneling. This is when the candle burns only in the center. The problem with this is that it never uses up all of your fuel (leftover precious beeswax) and it may snuff out as well!
The common reasons for this include:
- Wick too small
- Beeswax wasn’t filtered enough
- Didn’t add a softer oil (like coconut oil)
- Didn’t allow the candle to burn long enough
One of the main reasons that you have tunneling in a candle is because the wick is too small. Candlescience has a great guide about finding the right wick size (which I’ll include here below), but it’s also somewhat up to experimentation. If you try a wick size and you have tunneling, snuffing out, etc, then you may need to go up a wick size.
Here’s the guide to choosing the right wick side from Candlescience:
Another reason for a tunneling candle is that the beeswax wasn’t filtered enough. Beeswax has a lot of bits in it from the beehive, and if they aren’t properly filtered out they can make the candle burn improperly. If this is a problem you’re experiencing, you can always filter the beeswax again to try to clean it better.
An additonal reason you might have tunneling is that you didn’t mix it with something like coconut oil. Now plenty of people don’t mix their beeswax with fine results, but it’s easier to get a nice smooth burn when you do mix it with another oil.
The last reason on our list is not allowing the candle to burn long enough the first time you light it. This is where the phrase “full melt pool” comes in. You may need to light your candle for 2-4 hours the first time to achieve the proper full melt pool. Allowing it to do this on the first burn will give the candle proper “memory” for the next time and help avoid future tunneling.
3. Flickering/Popping Candle
One reason you might have an unsteady flame is that the wick is too long. If you didn’t trim your wick to 1/4 inch (I didn’t do it correctly and you can see it in the picture of our lit candles) your flame might be too big and it’ll burn the candle too quickly. It’s super easy to fix because you can just trim it down the next time.
Another reason you may be experiencing this problem is that the wick is too big. You can see the above video for how to pick the right wick size for your candle.
4. Your Candle Keeps Snuffing Out
This problem is very similar to the tunneling issue. This happens when you have too much wax and not enough wick. It can also happen if you’ve poured a candle into a jar that has a neck, and you’ve poured past the part where the jar changes.
Otherwise, pick the right wick size, allow the candle to burn long enough, and try adding some coconut oil to the equation.
Share YOUR Beeswax Candles
And that’s about it! If you have any more questions please drop your thoughts below. We’d also love to see some of your beeswax candles. If you make us a beeswax candle, tag us on Instagram @the_making_life