What do you need to make Pillar candles?
When you take your first steps in the noble art of making candles, you often start by making pillar candles.
Why? Because a basic pillar candle is a relatively simple starting project you can bring to fruition with limited tools and supplies and that it's a good introduction to a range of issues you may encounter with all the other types of candles.
Once you've successfully created a basic pillar candle (uncoloured, unscented), you can gradually attempt, at your own rythm, more advanced projects (try another shape of mold, add colors and scent to the wax), thereby building up assurance and experience.
For your first attempt at making a pillar candle, you don't need much and you'll probably find (almost) everything you need around the house.
You'll need the following: a mold (homemade or purchased), a length of wick, wax, obviously (a pillar or votive blend), some mold sealer, a small tool to keep the wick tight (called a wick holder). That's about all!
With the exception of very specific cases, remember that, as showed on the top part of the illustration, the side of the candle AT THE BOTTOM of the mold will become THE TOP of the finished candle.
You can purchase a mold from a candlemaking supplies store (start with a basic shape, like a cylinder) or use any household item and make it a temporary or permanent candle mold. Possibilities are endless! To get you started, take a look at the article titled "homemade molds".
To make a pillar candle, you can use almost any type of mold you wish (polycarbonate, metallic, rubber...)
Just remember that, if you use a one-piece mold, it needs to either have straight sides, either be slightly tapered, otherwise, quite obviously, you won't be able to unmold the finished candle.
Flat braid and square braid wicks (see the related articles for more information) are the two types of wick generally used in pillar candles.
The size of the wick will depend on the diameter of your candle and picking the right wick size can prove a little tricky and require some testing and trial and error. To get you started, you'll find guidelines in the two articles for which I just gave the links.
To ensure that the wick behaves correctly when lit, you will need to prime it before you place it in the mold and pour the candle. This is a simple but very important operation, don't skip it!
The mold sealer
With molded candles, it is necessary to thread the wick through the mold at its base. Because the wick alone isn't enough to prevent liquid wax from escaping the mold, you will have to make the wick hole watertight.
The ideal solution is to use a small amount of mold sealer (also called plumber putty), a tacky substance that looks like play dough.
A small ball of mold sealer spread tight at the place where the wicks comes out of the mold will do and, as long as the mold sealer isn't too dirty, it can be reused.
Even if a small amount will last a long time, the type of mold sealer available in craft stores can be quite expensive so, instead, visit your local DIY (Do It Yourself) store and purchase a pot of plumber putty (take the basic sort, avoid the "special copper" or "special lead"). You'll have mold sealer for the next twenty years.
Price tip: about 7 EUR for a 400ml pot.
The wick holder
When wax cools, it tends to shrink (just like almost anything on earth). This is a normal phenomenon but you need to keep the wick tight or the shrinking of the wax will throw the wick off center and distend it.
To avoid this, keep the wick tight until you're ready to unmold the candle by using a wick holder (also called cotter pin). The first picture in this article illustrates how to use a wick holder when making a molded candle.
If you can't find a "real" wick holder, you can make one yourself quite easily with, for exemple, a pair of chop sticks: keep both sticks tight using two rubber bands. Now just trap the wick between the two sticks to keep it tight.
You don't need any complicated tools to start making pillar candles