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Container candles - How to make them ?

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How to make them ?

Now that wax blends specially formulated for Container candles have become readily available to candlemakers outside the United States (it was certainly not the case when I wrote the first version of this article, about twenty years ago), this type of candle is one of the easiest to make, even for an absolute beginner. The apparition and increasing popularity of soy and other soft vegetable waxes, particularly suited to be poured in glass and metal containers, have played an important part in that as well.

In this article and the video that illustrates it, we will discover in details each and every step of the creation of a Container candle.

Supplies and tools used for this project

You have already been introduced to the specific supplies you will need to make Container candles in the article devoted to that topic but it seems interesting to show you exactly what I have been using to complete this project : it is probably what you will be using too...

  • a double boiler and a melting pot,
  • a container candle wax blend,
  • a thermometer,
  • a long needle or a kebab stick,
  • a glass (or plastic) stirring stick,
  • fragrance oil,
  • candle dye,
  • a decorative container in glass or metal,
  • a pre-tabbed wick whose size matches the diameter of your container,
  • a glue dot or your glue gun,
  • a kitchen scale of sufficient precision,
  • a glass vessel to measure the fragrance oil,
  • a heat gun (not mandatory but highly recommended for good results)

How to make a Container candle ?

Before we start, we need to say a few words about Container candles wax, if you decide to go with a commercial blend.

If it's your first time making Container candles, you may be surprised, when your order arrives, to find large slabs of wax instead of the pellets you're probably used to if you ever used regular paraffin wax. Don't worry, that's the form it normally comes in ! But how to break it down into manageable pieces that will fit inside your melting pot ?

Along the years, I have tried many different ways of breaking down slabs of Container candles wax but the only one so far that hasn't given me grey hair is also the one used in stone quarries to break down slabs of stone. All you need is a large, flat-head screwdriver.

Place the slab of wax on a cutting board covered with wax paper. With the screwdriver, trace a line where you plan to cut just to give you a guideline. Along this line, at four or five different places regularly spaced, drive the screwdriver head through the wax, not too hard at first. The second time around, push a bit harder. Repeat a third time. You are actually creating a break line. The piece of wax you covet should soon separate from the rest of the slab without further ado. Repeat the operation to break down the smaller slab.

While your wax gently melts in the double boiler (a relatively quick process as Container blends have a rather low melting point), prepare your container.

If you're going to be using a glue dot, press one of its sticky sides against the wick tab then peel off the film that covers the other side. If you prefer using a glue gun, just place a drop of glue on the wick tab. Hold the wick by its end and use your needle to guide the tab, then press it against the bottom of the container, making sure it is dead center. Apply pressure with the needle on every side of the tab. Then stick your fingers inside the container and push down on the wick tab using the tip of both your middle fingers.

Install a wick holder to straighten and center the wick. I can think of nothing worse than a candle with a wick off-center...

Trick of the trade : when your wick is installed, place container and all on the scale and write down the weight (in this case 593 grams) next to the type of container in your notebook. We will come back to this towards the end of this project.

When the Container candles wax blend has entirely melted in the double boiler, add your choice of candle dye and stir thoroughly, especially if the dye you use is not in liquid form.

Now, remove the melting pot from the double boiler, wipe it dry with an old kitchen towel and put it down on a heat-resistant surface.

Before you even start on a project where you will be using fragrance oils, you should check what its flash point is. If the flash point is not explicitly mentioned on the bottle, search your supplier's website for the MSDS sheet relating to your fragrance oil; it should be readily available. If it's not the case, reach out to your supplier. If he is unable or unwilling to give you this essentiel piece of information, seriously consider working with another supplier.

For this project, I used Candleshack's Enchanted Forest fragrance oil. The MSDS sheet on their website informs me that this oil has a flash point of 176°F. Perfect !

The time has come to measure the quantity of fragrance oil you will be needing. Don't forget that fragrance oils are mesured by weight, not by volume, which means you will need a kitchen scale and not a measuring cup. The accepted norm is 6% of fragrance oil in weight. In this project, I used 400 grams of wax, so I will need (400 / 100) x 6 = 24 grams of fragrance oil. Place the glass vessel (or plastic but never metal as it could negatively react with the oil) on the kitchen scale, zero it out and start pouring the oil until the scale display shows 24 grams.

Check that the wax temperature is somewhere between 140°F and the fragrance oil's flash point. If that's okay, add the oil to the wax and stir thoroughly but slowly for two minutes, no less. Use a glass or plastic stirring stick (again, no metal).

Most Container candles wax blends must be poured at a temperature of 140°F unless otherwise instructed (check the packaging as the pouring temperature is usually mentioned). Because this temperature is relatively low where wax is concerned, you might end up with jump lines on the inside of your container if you don't heat it up slightly before you pour.

Your tool of choice for this is your faithful heatgun set on low (212°F) temperature and low airflow. Alternatively, you could use a hairdryer. Heat up the inside of your container for about a minute then, straight away, gently pour the wax into the container. Proceed calmly to avoid the formation of air bubbles or wax spills where wax is not supposed to be. Fill the container up to just under the neck.

The main advantage of a wax blend that has been formulated specifically for Container candles is that it shrinks very little if poured at the recommended temperature. Nonetheless, there will always be some degree of shrinking and a slight depression will take shape between the container walls and the wick. When the container is cold to the touch, place the melting pot back in the double boiler and melt down the remaining wax. When done, remove the melting pot from the double boiler, let the wax temperature cool down until it reaches 158°F and pour the required amount into the container, making sure you don't pour above the initial level. Allow to fully set and cool down.

Before you remove the wick holder, place container and all on the scale. Remember the first part of the "trick of the trade" above ? If you subtract the initial weight (593 grams) from the final weight (977 grams), you learn that, to fill this type of container with this type of wax, you need 384 grams of wax. If you allow for what sticks to the inside of your melting pot and for the potential spill, you can think of 400 grams as your starting point next time.

You can now remove the wick holder and trim the wick to 7 millimeters ( 1/3 inch). Container candles are like sauce dishes : much better the day after. Let your candle rest for 3 days before you light it; this gives the molecules plenty of time to settle down and the scent throw will be a lot stronger.

You just made a Container candle. Great job ! See you soon for a new project.

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