In my previous article How To Make Candles with Kids, I explained the process of making pillar candles, and described how your kids can place colored blocks of wax into the mold to create a fun, unique candle. While this is one of our favorites, there are other fun ways to include your kids in making their very own candle. In this article I describe how you and your kids can make candle molds using everyday items around the house. I also introduce some new techniques for producing different finishes, as well as some tips to help you along the way.
Time: 45 minutes for preparation, several hours for candles to set.
Age: 5-10's, Over 10's, excluding handling hot wax.
Double Boiler to Melt Wax
Makeshift Molds from Around the House
Wick Supporting Sticks
Hot Glue Gun
Cookie Sheet for Wax Blocks
Create Your Own Mold
Duct tape is used to reinforce the mold.
Holes are punched through the bottom of the container and the wick is strung through.
Sticky tack holds the wicks in place.
The wicks are supported using a stick, chopsticks or skewers work great.
The first layer of wax is poured and let to cool, waiting until the wax is malleable before adding a new layer of color.
The final product created a neat layered look, and the cardboard mold made for an interesting textured finish. You could also buff the candle to create a smooth, shiny finish using nylons and elbow grease.
You can make a mold using lots of different items found around the house, including cereal boxes, snack boxes, etcetera. There are a few things to consider however, outside finish (smooth, matte, texture, seams), mold releasability, and heat resistance. The rectangular candle pictured at the top of this article was made using half of the fruit snack box shown above.
Insulated Cartons - These work great and are likely found in your fridge. Half and half, buttermilk and milk cartons, both big small, work great. The only thing I could find was a disposable coffee cup, which worked great.
To create a fun candle, often termed a swiss cheese candle, add chunks of ice into the mold prior to pouring the wax. The ice melts, creating cavities throughout the candle, giving it a swiss cheese appearance.
To create this swiss cheese candle, I used a disposable coffee cup. I filled the cup about halfway with chunks of ice. This way only the top part of the candle would have cavities.
I added some wax pieces to the bottom for a unique look, finishing the bottom with a thin layer of black wax.
Here is the finished candle.
Cardboard - Cereal boxes, paper towel tubes, and the like can also be used as candle molds. These molds require a little extra work, as you need to make sure the mold is sturdy, often requiring some sort of additional reinforcement to prevent buckling. You will also want to spray the inside of the mold with a silicone spray to help release the finished candle. If using a cardboard tube, place tube on sturdy cardboard, securing it with hot glue, masking tape and sticky tack to prevent leaks. We made a mold using a fruit snack box. We cut it in half, wrapped it in duct tape and inserted three wicks. We used sticky tack to secure the wicks on the bottom of the box as shown.
Create a multi color, layered candle by pouring several layers of different colored wax into the mold. Just remember to wait until the wax is no longer liquid, yet soft enough to create a fingerprint if pushed on, before adding another layer.
Plastic - Yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, shampoo, and tupperware containers, to name a few, can also be turned into great candle molds. It is also recommended to rub the inside of these containers with oil. Keep in mind that thinner plastics may cause the wax to melt the plastic, use at your own discretion.
Tins - Soda cans, pie tins, and even tin foil can be used for a candle mold. Tins make for a great finish and are easily removed from the mold when finished. Be sure to remove the top of an aluminum can prior to pouring wax, as the ridges will prevent the candle from releasing. Alternatively, you can carefully cut the aluminum once candle is set. When using tin foil, form the foil into your desired shape, place wick and pour wax. We used hot glue to secure the wick and prevent leaks. Be sure to place tinfoil mold into a container in the event of a leak caused by a tear in the tinfoil.
Crumpling up some tin foil and forming into a container can create a pretty funky looking candle.
I added some purple wax squares to give it some flare, and dark pink at the bottom.
The tin foil candle sure is wild looking, the kids love it.
Ideas and Tips
With plenty of ideas to create your own unique molds using household items, you can get creative with your candles using several different methods, producing amazing looking candles your kids will be very proud of.
Add essential oils to your wax just before pouring to create a therapeutic aroma as well as a unique marbleized appearance. Using more candle scent than called for can also give a marbleized look.
The upper green portion of this candle contains essential oils, giving it a marbleized look. I used a solid purple wax for the bottom.
Adding glitter to your wax makes for some cool effects. Found this out accidentally when using a glitter crayon for dye.
You can create blocks of wax using cookie sheets to create slabs of different colors, then break up the slabs into chunks or squares.
Mix and match different colors or create your own pattern or design in a mold, then pour a different color over the chunks. This method is great for the impatient people like myself. Since the majority of the wax is already set, the candle finishes much faster.
You can create decorative candles with just about anything. I have filled candle molds with potpourri and uncolored wax. They looked really neat, but when lit, the potpourri would catch fire, posing a hazard. For this reason, error on the side of caution when putting things into candles.
You can color the wax with crayons. Simply peel off the wrapping and drop into the wax when it is melted. Use one crayon for every pound of wax.
If you are looking for a polished finished, try using nylons to buff out any imperfections.
Consider purchasing stearin as an additive for your candles. Stearin is a mixture of fatty acids used as an additive in candlemaking. Stearin has many benefits, including a higher melting point, making your candles last longer. Stearin also allows for easier mold release; shrinking the wax. It also helps bring out the colors in your candle, enhancing them with a bright and vivid appearance.
If you happen to spill hot wax on carpet or clothing, lighter fluid works great to clean it up.
Consider the diameter of your mold and the size of your wick when making candles. It is important that the wick is the right size for the mold for proper melting.
Making candles as a family has proven to be a lot of fun and is a great way to create some homemade gifts. I would love to see what others have found around the house to make candles with. Be sure to post in the comments below.
Remember to be careful with hot wax, making sure an adult is present throughout the candle making process. I have my kids design the candles and place the blocks of wax, I do the pouring.