How to Make Votive Candles
Start by gathering all the items that you will need. Our Votive Candle Making Starter Kit contains many of the items found in this tutorial. The process will go much more smoothly if everything is readily accessible.
Here's What You'll Need:
UV Stabilizer (optional, but recommended)
Butcher Paper or Newspaper
Metal Spoon or Stir Stick
Wick Trimmers, Scissors, or Nail Clippers
Metal Cookie Cutter or Trivet
Cover your work area with butcher paper or newspaper. Spills or drips are most times unavoidable, and clean-up is much easier if you don’t have to clean wax off of your work surface.
The amount of wax required should be weighed out. You can make about eight votive candles per pound of wax.
Cutting the votive waxes can be tricky. For this demonstration, the wax is scored with a utility knife. Then, the scored piece is placed on the remaining slab and pressure is applied to help break the wax on the score. You may need to do this a few times to get the wax in small enough pieces to fit in the pouring pot. (Be careful not to cut yourself or smash your fingers while doing this.) The wax can be weighed in the pouring pot so you do not have to transfer it from a different container.
The wax will need to be heated to 175°F to 185°F depending on the wax you have chosen. To create a double boiler, put about an inch of water in the sauce pan, and then place the pouring pot in the water. It is a good idea to add an inexpensive metal trivet or cookie cutter under the pouring pot to elevate it. Doing this ensures the wax is not receiving direct heat from any side. Adjust the heat to a medium-low setting. The water needs to be boiling, but it does not have to come to a rolling boil. If the water is at a rolling boil, it may splatter out of the pan. Check the temperature of the wax occasionally to make certain it is not getting too hot. Adjust the temperature as needed. While the wax is melting you can continue with the next steps, but make sure that the wax is never left unattended.
While the wax is melting, you can prepare your votive molds. Even when the molds are new, there may be a thin layer of oil in them from the manufacturing process. Your candles will look best if the wax is poured into clean molds. To clean them, put a small amount of mold cleaner on a paper towel, and then wipe the inside of the molds thoroughly. If you do not have mold cleaner available, a Pam type cooking spray would also work. If you are using auto wick pins, check them to make sure they are straight. If they need a little adjustment, hold the base of the pin and manually correct it. Once the pins are ready, you can set them inside the votive molds.
Arrange the molds in a way that it will be easy for you to pour into them. If you are making a large batch, you may find having them in a single row near the edge of your work surface makes them easier to reach. Make sure they are not so near the edge that they are easy to knock off.
Once the wax has reached the proper temperature, you are ready to add the fragrance oil. Depending on the wax you are using, you could add 0.5 - 1.0 ounce of fragrance per pound of wax. It is most common to add 1 ounce of fragrance per pound of wax. The fragrance is most accurately measured by weight, but you can also use a tablespoon to measure it if the scale you have does not measure a small amount precisely. A tablespoon is equal to approximately 0.5 ounce. Pour the fragrance into the wax and stir for about 2-3 minutes or until the fragrance is completely "absorbed" by the wax.
Step 7 (using dye blocks)
Next, add the desired amount of dye. If using dye blocks, the block will melt into the wax more quickly if it is cut into small pieces. After adding the desired amount, stir the mixture until it is blended thoroughly. Skip to step 9 if you are using color blocks.
Step 7 (using liquid dye)
If using liquid dyes, just add the desired amount of drops. Since you can not remove dye once it has been added, it should be added sparingly, especially if you are trying to achieve a light color. You can always add a little more if it is not dark enough. After adding the desired amount, stir the mixture until it is blended thoroughly.
When you look at the liquid wax, it will usually look much darker than when it has completely cooled. To test the color, you can drip a small amount of wax onto a paper plate or paper towel. Make sure not to drip the hot wax on your hands. Allow it to harden, and you will be able to see a more accurate representation of the color. You can then add more dye if desired.
At this point, you can add UV stabilizer if you choose. The addition of UV stabilizer will help keep the color from fading if the candles are exposed to UV rays or fluorescent lighting. You would add about ½ teaspoon per pound of wax. You will need to stir the UV stabilizer into the wax until it is completely dissolved/melted.
Slowly pour the wax into the molds making sure to fill them completely. If you pour too quickly, it may cause bubbles to form on top of the wax. The wax should be poured level with the top of the molds. After filling the desired amount of votive cups, there should be some wax left in your pouring pot. You will need this wax for the second pour. If you are using the votive wick pins, let the wax cool completely which may take about two hours and you can skip steps 12 and 13.
If you are not using wick pins, you will need to insert your wicks. Check the wicks to make sure they are straight. If they are not, hold the wick in one hand and gently straighten the wick with using your fingers.
Wait until you can see the wax setting up around the edges of the mold as shown here in the picture. Hold the wick so that the tab "cuts" through the top of the wax as you insert it. Carefully center the wick in the mold. It should feel as though the tab has stuck to the bottom of the mold when you insert it. As the wax cools and shrinks, it may tend to pull the wick down slightly. A gentle pull on the wick will help straighten it. Be careful not to pull too hard, or you may pull the wick out of the tab. Let the wax cool completely.
After the wax has completely set you will clearly be able to see the sink hole that has formed from the wax shrinking. Re-melt the leftover wax and let the wax heat to about 190°F. The hotter temperature on your second pour will help blend it better with the first pour.
On the second pour you need to fill the votive mold so the wax level is slightly higher than the edge of the mold. Leave the candles to cool completely. If you try to remove them before they have set, wax may spill over the sides of the mold.
Once they are completely set, you are ready to remove the candles from the molds. If they have been left to fully cool, they should easily remove from the mold by pulling on the wick pin or wick. If you are having trouble removing them, you can put them in the freezer for about 5 minutes to help the wax release from the mold. If you still have trouble after putting them in the freezer for 5 minutes, you can put them back in the freezer for an additional 5 minutes. Be sure not to leave them in the freezer for too long or your candles can crack, and they could fall apart when removed from the mold.
If you used wick pins, you will need to remove them from the candles. There are a couple of different ways to do this. If you hold the candle in one hand and tap the pin against a hard surface, the pin will start to slide out the bottom. You can then pull the pin out. (Make sure you are tapping the pin against something that would not be damaged.) If you aren't able to remove the pin by tapping it out, you can use a butter knife or something that is very thin to try to pry the pin from the bottom of the candle. After you have pulled the pin out, you can slide the wick in its place. When you put the wick in the candle, you will have to firmly press the wick tab into the candle.
Trim the wick to 1/4 inch length using wick trimmers, scissors, or nail clippers. Be sure not to trim them too short because they will not burn properly.
It is highly recommended to add a caution label. You may also choose to add labels unique to your business, fragrance name labels, or other packaging.
Are you ready to give it a try?
Our Votive Candle Making Starter Kit is a great way to get everything you need ot start making votive candles or you may choose to order everything you need separately by browsing our selection of candle making supplies.