Friday, July 11, 2008

Candle light....

I think that these are my favourite of our wedding DIY projects - soya jam jar candles. We have made about 40 of them in different sized jars, from the below organic pesto which is rather neat and dinky, to a couple of very large beetroot jars (The Boy's, I won't touch the stuff).

Love candles, love glass jars, love recycling, love soya. So it's all good.

We had a tonne of glass jars around the house (I knew I'd been saving them for something) and we bough 5 kilos of soya wax on ebay, as well as 5 meters of wick and lots of little metal thingies that attach to the end of the wick.

I made candles years ago with paraffin wax and let me tell you, soya wax is heavenly in comparrison. It has a much lower melting temperature than paraffin wax, so instead of melting it in a pan over the heat you can put in in the microwave in a jug, or if you don't have one (like us) you can rest the jug full of wax flakes inside a pan of hot water and it will melt like that too. As it doesn't get so hot it doesn't hurt half as much when you get it on your fingers (of course you don't have to get it on your fingers at all. But I'm clumsy. And messy).

It also washes off everything - clothes and the jug. Stick the jug in the dish washer and it comes out as good as new. Once paraffin wax touches your clothes it is a fight to the death to get rid of it, but not the delightful soya wax.

But those are just practicalities, the real beauty of soya wax is that it's natural. It has the most gorgeous soft texture and a beautiful opaque ivory colour. It is warm, tactile, silky, heavenly. Paraffin wax is hard, cold, mean, and hideously industrial in comparison. And it smells bad. Also, it burns twice as fast, releasing carcinogenic soot as it does so. Yuck.

Soya wax is more expensive to buy, but it's definitely worth it.


Practical bits.....

5 kilos of wax = about 30-40 candles, depending on how deep you pour the wax. We made them between one and two inches.

10lb of wax = about $40 on ebay.

We didn't buy a little whatsit for holding the wick in place, so as a result most of our wicks are not quite central.

Pre-waxed wicks (above) are much easier to use than wick that comes in one long length as they stand up in the jar, whereas unwaxed wicks just flop straight over. Unless you buy a whatsit.

Top tip -

if you're recently poured candle acquires a bit of fluff sitting on its surface, do not turn it upside down and bang the bottom of it to remove said bit of fluff. That is a sure fire way to get wax that looks like it has set but hasn't all over your hands, your jars, your kitchen work surface and the floor. Soya wax may be easier to clean up that paraffin wax but it's not that easy.


  1. [de-lurking!] Wow, that's really fantastic... and CHEAP!!! I'm majorly impressed. I love soy candles, though I must admit I miss playing with the wax with my fingers. ;-) I bought pretty inexpensive soy tea lights from an Etsy seller (to use in jelly jars as well!), but your way is much more economical. **bangs head** I could have bought something fun with that money!

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  3. I was thinking of doing the same thing but didn't know where to begin! Thank you. Would you mind sending me a pic of a whole jar so that I can see what it looks like. You can email me at kakita99AT

  4. They're going to look fantastic :)

  5. Everything is going to look so soft and pretty with these floating around. I love this new movement away from mass produced goods.

  6. Impressive! I love the idea of grouping different types of recycled bottles, that sounds so pretty and unique...

  7. Could you post some more pictures of these? They were very pretty pictures, by the way, but I'd like to get a better view of the final product :) Sometimes art and utility clashes *grin*!

  8. Yay!! I had considered pouring my own candles for our wedding, and you have just made it seem kind of easy!! And thanks for the tip about not turning them over to bang on the bottom.... that would have been me!

  9. Thanks for all the good tips! I too have been thinking about making soy candles (just for around the house in the winter). When they aren't going on the dinner table, I love a light citrus or lavender scent--did you add any scent to yours? I haven't been able to find any directions anywhere about what and how much to use (just lots of talk about what waxes take scent).

  10. Soy candles are absolutely wonderful. Kudos for making them =)

  11. Hello (bride.)! Thank you for delurking, it's lovely to meet you!

    Kaki and Kat, I will try and dig out the candles and take a proper photo of them, we made them months ago and packed them all up!

    Riley, it really is easy. And fun!

    FF, I didn't add scent to them as they're going to be on the dinner tables. I thought about adding some sort of citrus oil, to keep the midges away, but I couldn't find any info on how to do it either unfortunately.

  12. Gosh, you are creative, woman! ;-)

  13. absolutely stunning! my mom LOVES the soy candles and has been thinking of doing this for our v.r. i just might let her after seeing this!

  14. just wanted to say that i did this for our wedding (in a little over a month), and it was by *far* the easiest of all the wedding projects that we did (and we did MANY). i wish everything could be so easy and turn out so great.

    a few tips that i have learned: when placing the wicks into the glass jar (easiest to use hot glue gun), stick the wick through a straw first, which will allow you to direct the wick, and firmly place the metal bit (w the hot glue) on the bottom of the glass to stay put where you want it.

    if you dont have or dont want to buy the 'whatsits' to keep the wick in place, use two rubber bands on either side of the wick, crossing on one side. this keeps the wick perfectly central.

    best to use a pyrex measuring cup w a spout to pour the melted wax in (microwaves are the easiest way to melt the wax (2 minutes on mine)), but dont pour all the way to the bottom of your pyrex measuring cup as then it is a lot harder to keep the wax from getting on the sides of the jars.

    if the wicks arent long enough for the jars you are putting them in (we used a bunch of mason jars, some of them a quart, which is taller than the wicks), attach any twine to the top with some tape around it. that will still fit through the straw, and you will cut the wicks down anyway.

    also - be sure to try out different wick sizes - they are designed to go into different width jars, otherwise you might end up with a small round tunnel of wax and lots unmelted (if the wick is too small) or a big pool of soy oil under the wick while the candle is lit (if the wick is too big). for pint size jars i liked HTP 083 best and for the quart size HTP 104. (and experimented with lots of sizes). it all depends not on the volume o the container but the diameter.

    hope this helps someone. i think everyone should try this - easy peasy and cheap. so fast to do. we are making about 100, and the whole thing doesnt even take an evening....


play nice.