I’ve inherited many things from my mother: a corny sense of humor, a love of baking, her nite-owl nature, an appreciation for reading… and a love of candles.
If you’re looking for a thoughtful, practical gift for the mother in your life, consider setting a date with her and making some candles together. Or you could just make the candles yourself to give as a gift to that special mama.
A couple weeks ago, my mother and I spent the day together replenishing our arsenal of candles. It was great to share a creative experience with my her and I think she still enjoys teaching her daughter a thing or two.
Thanks to modern technology, candle-making is quite easy to do and can be a thrifty project. Continue reading for the tutorial on how to make these candles, plus my mother’s handy tips.
These are the materials we used:
*Cardboard (We used cake and cereal boxes.)
*Wicks in varying sizes (Ours were cotton wicks, also from the Swan Creek Candle Company.)
*Glass containers and/or tealight molds (Ours were candle holders—some we previously used and some that were bought from a thrift store. You could make this an even thriftier project by repurposing baby food jars or other small to medium-sized jars.)
Optional: disposable plastic cups to making pouring the melted wax easier.
1. Clean your glass containers. If you’re going to refill previously used candle holders, clean out the old wax first. If the wax is soft enough and not blackened, you can simply spoon it out to reuse. Look at all the wax we saved:
If the leftover wax isn’t soft, you can easily remove it by melting it with your microwave. CAUTION: IF THE PREVIOUS WICK HAS METAL, MAKE SURE TO REMOVE IT FIRST. Not sure? Remove it first anyhow or melt the old wax by floating the container in a pot of heated water on your stove.
Once you’ve removed the old wax, soak your containers in the sink for about 5 minutes in warm water and dish soap before washing them. My mother recommends using Dawn because of its grease-cutting power. It took no time at all to get our containers looking like this:
2. Prepare your workspace. Cover the surface area with newspaper— this will make any spilled wax super easy to clean up. Turn on your hot glue gun and set out your candle containers with their corresponding wicks.
3. Heat the wax in the microwave. Remove the lid, leave the wax inside its container, and heat on high just until all the wax is melted. This should take about 3-4 minutes. (The time may vary based on your microwave, so keep an eye on it.) Remove the wax from the microwave. Be sure to use your potholders!
(If you are using leftover wax, stir this into the container of melted wax.)
4. Glue the wicks inside your containers. Once your hot glue gun is ready, add a dab of glue to the bottom of the wick’s metal plate and press to the inside bottom of the glass/tealight mold.
5. Slowly pour the melted wax into your containers. We first poured some of the melted wax into a disposable plastic cup, because it made pouring much easier and lighter.
6. Cut strips from the cardboard and cut out small hole in the middle of the strips. The holes should be just as wide as the wicks but not much larger.
7. Carefully thread the wicks through the holes in the cardboard strips. Doing this once the wax in your candle containers has started to solidify (after about 10 minutes) helps ensure the wicks will remain straight as the wax hardens.
8. Allow your candles to fully set overnight at room temperature before using. Once the candles have hardened, trim the wicks to 1/4″.
If you make these candles as gifts for Mother’s Day, make then even more special by dressing them up a bit. You could tie some pretty ribbon around them, add a name tag, or embellish the outside of the container with jewels or scrapbook paper.
I truly didn’t expect this project to be so easy. Years ago, I bought a candle-making kit from a craft store and it was quite the process. Using pre-scented, pre-colored refill wax made this project way more fun, way simpler, and way cheaper.
All our candles were made with Swan Creek Candle Company’s wicks and refill wax. Neither myself nor my mother were paid to endorse or review their products. We just really like how strongly scented their wax is and appreciate the longer life of soy candles. (My favorite right now is the Lilac Mist, because it’s so spring-like.)
Have you ever made your own candles or made them as gifts? Feel free to share your experience and your products of choice!