How to Make Jar and Other Container-Based Candles

Candle Making Supplies

Homemade Container Candles
A variety of candles made with old glasses and containers purchased second-hand. Erin Huffstetler

If you've always wanted to make candles, but never really knew where to start, this guide's for you. Follow these instructions from beginning to end, and you'll learn how to make basic jar or container-based candles. Let's get started!

To make a jar or container candle, you will need:

  • Several empty jars or containers
  • A double boiler
  • Candle wax
  • Candle wicks (recommended: pre-waxed and wired wicks with wicks clips)
  • Crayon pieces for coloring the wax
  • Oven mitts
  • Wax paper
  • Optional: candle fragrance

Prepare Your Containers and Work Area

Prepare your work area, and insert wicks into your containers.
Prepare your work area, and insert wicks in your containers. GettyImages

Once you've chosen your candle containers – jars, glasses, tea cups, mugs, etc. – it's time to prep them for use.

Make sure the containers are clean and completely dry. Then, place them on a sheet of wax paper. This will ensure that any wax spills will be easy to clean up.

Finish by inserting a candle wick in the center of each container. If you are using wicks with wick clips (little metal disks on the end), the wicks should stand up straight without any assistance (as shown in the picture). If you are using wicks without clips, you can hold the wick in position by tying the top of the wick to a pencil, and balancing the pencil across the top of the container.

Melt the Candle Wax

Melt the candle wax in a double boiler.
Melt the candle wax in a double boiler. Erin Huffstetler

With all of the prep work complete, it's now time to start work on your candles. Let the melting begin!

Assemble Your Double Boiler
For safety reasons wax should always be heated in a double boiler. What's a double boiler? It's essentially a pan inside of a pan. You fill the first pan with water and then place the second pan (with the wax) inside of it.

If you don't own a double boiler, you can create one by placing an empty can, pan or glass container inside of one of your pans. Just make sure you're not attached to whatever you decide to use – it'll be covered with wax when you're done.

Place Wax in the Double Boiler
Cut the wax into small pieces, and place it in the double boiler. Then, heat over medium heat until the wax is completely melted.

Add color
Decide what color you want your candles to be; then, add bits of crayons in your chosen color to the wax, and heat until melted. Continue adding bits of crayon until you are satisfied with the color.

Tip: If you're not sure how the color will look when it's dry, dip a popsicle stick into your wax. The color on the stick should be a good indicator of your finished color.

Add candle fragrance
Add fragrance to the wax if desired. Then, turn off the stove eye.

Note: Do not leave the stove unattended while heating wax, and be sure to keep a fire extinguisher nearby as a safety precaution.

Pour the Wax into the Containers

Melt Down Old Candles and Make New Ones
Melt Down Old Candles and Make New Ones. Erin Huffstetler

Use oven mitts or pot holders to remove the wax from the stove. Then, carefully pour the wax into the first container until it reaches the top of the container (or the desired height). Repeat with any remaining containers.

Allow the wax to cool undisturbed for several hours or until completely hardened.

Top Off Your Candles and Trim the Wicks

The wax around the wick is depressed, and requires a second fill.
The wax around the wick is depressed, and requires a second fill. Erin Huffstetler

Sometimes you'll end up with a depressed area around the wick of the candle. This is a common occurrence and an easy problem to remedy. Just melt some more wax, and pour it into the void. Then, once the new wax has hardened, simply trim the wick down to size; and your candle is ready for use!

Clean Up Tips

Candle Making Supplies
Candle Making Supplies. Erin Huffstetler

Cleaning up after a project is never fun, but if you follow a couple simple guidelines you'll minimize the hassle.

1) Do not pour wax down the drain.
Allow any leftover, melted wax to cool; then, store the dried pieces for later use. You should also dump the water from your double boiler outside to ensure that no wax goes down the drain.

2) Clean up any wax on or near the stove eye.
If any drips or spills have occurred, be sure to clean them up completely. Wax will ignite if it reaches a high enough temperature.