If you have been thinking about entering the hobby of candle-making, you have come to the right place. This multi-part guide will tell you everything you need to know about candle-making – collecting hardware, exploring the varied wax options, how to pick the right wicking material, and adding your own personal touches with color and fragrance.
Since you can’t make candles without a few essential hardware items, this is a great place to start. You may already have some of these things around the house. If not, don’t worry. Everything in this category can be found inexpensively in most stores.
The best method for melting wax is to use a double-boiler system. You can either use an actual double-boiler or you can easily construct one. Just fill a sauce pan about 1/3 full of water and place a metal bowl on top. The bowl should be relatively deep, and large enough that it will sit on top of the pot as opposed to nesting into it.
The point here is to avoid melting wax over direct heat. The last thing you want to do is scald your wax. In addition, wax is flammable and the double-boiler method will give you the ability to easily control the temperature of the wax, preventing it from accidentally overheating and igniting.
Some sort of dipper is also going to make candle-making much easier for you. Use either a metal or silicone-coated ladle, preferably one with a small spout for precision pouring.
A thermometer is a must-have tool in candle-making. Most people opt for a simple candy thermometer, but digital probe thermometers work just as well. Make sure that the thermometer you use has a clip for attaching the thermometer to the side of your double-boiler so you can monitor the temperature of the wax at all times.
Depending on the type of candles you want to make, you may also need molds. While container candles and hand-dipped tapers do not require the use of a mold, votives and pillars generally do. Most craft stores sell metal or plastic molds that are specifically for candle-making and can be reused over and over again. Don’t be afraid to get creative with mold materials, though. PVC pipe can be great for making candle molds, as can just about any other non-porous material. I once used wax-coated Dixie cups to make oversized votive candles. Experiment and figure out what works for you.
Since the hardware described here will eventually be covered in wax, you will want to keep these items segregated and used for candle-making only. If you don’t want to part with any of your pots and pans for this hobby, consider looking in second hand stores for these materials. They don’t have to be brand new, they just have to work.
As far as hardware is concerned, this is really all you need in order to get started. Stay tuned for the next installment where I will explore another key element of candle-making!