Making Votive Candles

Michelle Radcliff
Candles

Homemade votive candles are nice to have on hand for last minute party decorations or can be given as a thoughtful, handmade gift. The simplicity of making votive candles makes them a good choice for beginner candle makers.

How to Make Votive Candles

Votive candles can be made with a few inexpensive materials and a few hours of free time.

Materials

Gather the following materials to get started:

  • Votive wax
  • Votive molds
  • Pretabbed wicks
  • Double boiler with pouring pot
  • Thermometer
  • Wire whisk
  • Wax additives (optional or as needed)
  • Fragrance oil (optional)
  • Dye (optional)
pouring melted wax

Instructions

Follow this simple procedure to make the candles:

  1. Set up a double boiler by placing the pouring pot into a larger pot filled with 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil. While you're waiting for the water to boil, place the votive molds in the oven on a "keep warm" setting. Warming the metal molds will prevent drag lines from appearing on the sides of the candle
  2. Melt the votive wax by placing it in the pouring pot. Heat the wax to a temperature of 175 degrees. Add any wax additives you plan on using, saving fragrance and color as the last two items. Use the wire whisk to blend in the dye, stirring for a full two minutes to bind the color into the wax. Repeat this process with the fragrance oil, which should always be added last as too much heat can weaken the scent
  3. Place votive molds on a protected surface and fill each mold to the top with wax, taking care not to overflow the cup. Set the remaining wax aside but do not put it back on the heat source.
  4. Allow the wax to cool for a while, until a thin skin forms over the top. While the wax is cooling, prepare your wicks by straightening them as much as possible. Holding a wick by the tip, push the flat end through the wax skin, keeping the wick centered, until the tab hits the bottom of the mold. Adjust the wick if necessary to make sure it is centered. Repeat the procedure for each votive until all candles have a wick. Allow the candles to cool completely for 3 to 4 hours.
  5. As the wax cools, it will shrink, leaving a sink hole in the center of the candle. Re-melt the leftover wax in the pouring pot, heating it 10-15 degrees warmer than the first time, or about 190 degrees. This will allow the two wax pours to properly bind or adhere together. Fill each mold carefully until the wax is just above the lip of the mold. Poured at the right temperature, the second filling should result in a smooth top once the candle cools completely
  6. After the candles have cooled for several hours, they are ready to remove from the molds. The candles should slide out easily. However, if you're having trouble, try placing the molds in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes. You can also try putting gentle pressure on the sides of the mold as you roll it in the palms of your hand.
embedded seashells in candle wax

Embedding Objects

Embedded decorations are typically used in pillar or container candles. To embed items in a votive candle, you will need a second, larger mold to create an outer layer of wax that will surround the smaller votive candle. This is where you will add the embedded objects, where they will be easily visible and safely away from the wick and flame. Follow this procedure to embed objects inside the candle wax:

  1. Place the votive in the center of the larger mold. Heat up more candle wax in the double boiler. While the wax is melting, place your decorative objects around the outer edge of the mold. Press the objects against the side of the mold to ensure their visibility.
  2. Once the wax has reached about 170 degrees, slowly pour it into the mold, taking care not to disrupt the embedded objects. Allow the wax to cool completely before removing the candle from the mold.

Embellish the Votive Containers

embellished votive container

Homemade votive candles can easily be transformed into unique, custom home décor by embellishing the glass containers used to hold to them. DIY ideas for glass candle holders include:

  • Ribbon wrapped around the center and secured with a bead of hot glue
  • Beaded cord, twine, raffia or string tied around the container
  • Cut out paper designs secured with double-sided tape
  • Spray on frosted, metallic or mirror glass paint
  • Colored transparent glass paint
  • Natural materials such as fall leaves, floral greenery or pine cone scales attached with hot glue or spray adhesive
  • Vintage book paper or lace secured with double-sided tape, spray adhesive or hot glue

Where to Buy Molds

The most common type of mold for a votive candle is a metal mold designed to create a 15 hour burning candle. This size is a good fit for most average votive candle holders. These molds measure 1 ¾ inch at the top, 1.5 inch at the bottom and stand 1 15/16 inches tall. They hold approximately 1.5 ounces of wax. You can find these votive candle molds at:

  • Candlewic- This homemade candle and soap making supply store carries the standard metal holders in addition to octagon holders that are roughly the same size and plastic holders of equal size that claim to provide a glossier finish than metal molds. Prices range from $.60 for metal, $.43 for plastic and $2.73 for metal octagon.
  • Candles and Supplies- Although this site claims to have the largest selection of candle molds on the Internet, votive molds are limited to 15 hour polycarbonate molds for $.50 and shallow metal floater molds for $1.49 designed to make votive candles float in water. However, you can find a plethora of tart, tealight, floater and other assorted molds in various sizes and shapes.
  • Rustic Escentuals- Here you can find the standard metal 15 hour molds for $.89 each and handy plastic 2 cavity votive clamshell molds for $.39 each that produce 2 large votive candles (5 5/16 inches high by 3 inches wide).

A Fun Project

Making votive candles at home is inexpensive and fun. Naturally, there are other advantages, such as creating eco-friendly variations using soy and essential oils for fragrance. However, the joy of creative expression is certainly reason enough.

Making Votive Candles