my summer project has been turning all the end scraps of my candle collection into fresh new tea light candles that I can give as party favours (and maybe keep a couple for myself.)
it’s easy to do – all you need are a kettle, a microwave, and the tea light cups and wicks (available online for a song) – and it makes for a good couple of hours of fun in the kitchen with a friend or a good podcast playing. it also means i get to tell people i’m “making candles”, which sounds like i’m a fancy person with a whole candle making operation.
my illustration up above lists the steps -here’s what they look like in a bit more depth!
1…first catch your rabbit (and by rabbit i mean wax). once a candle is burnt down to the last 5mm, it’s hard to burn any further. many candles come with warning labels about this because the jar may overheat if the flame gets too close to it, and nobody wants an exploding candle jar. (you can also use this method to break up one big candle that smells too strong into lots of little candles that are less strong. i did some of this as well.)
to get the wax out of its jar/tin/whatever, you’ll need to boil the kettle and fill the container to the top with boiling water. the wax at the bottom will start to melt and stream up to the top of the glass like a one-way lava lamp! leave the jar overnight while the wax melts itself up, collects at the top and hardens. (you want it to be hardened because liquid wax is bloody murder to get off almost anything, including your hands.)
so you end up with a jar full of water, and then a big thick layer of wax sealing it up at the top. once the wax has hardened completely, put it over the sink * and push on the wax until it comes loose. now you can use the jar as a pen cup/candle votive/vase/happiness jar, too!
i collected a whole lot of chunks of wax before i began, which ended up making about 100 tea lights. since the next part is pretty messy and hands-on, that’s a good way to do it.
* WARNING / CLEANLINESS NOTE: you have to do it over the sink because all the water will splash out everywhere and it probably has bits of grease and soot mixed in from the candle, so it’s really not good on your kitchen floor. for bonus points: do this over a sink that you don’t mind getting grease and soot on either. in my house, that’s the laundry sink.
2…now you have your wax, you can make your candles!
it’s pretty straightforward. put your piece of wax in a microwave-safe bowl (preferably one you don’t really like) and melt it back down to a liquid.
then comes the messy bit: pour it into tealight candle cups and add a wick in the middle. the pouring can be a bit tricky, so lay out newspaper and be prepared to lose a fair bit of your wax spilling over the edges. i found that spooning the wax into the cups with a plastic spoon was pretty reliable, but still not mess-free.
3…leave your candles somewhere flat to set. this takes up to an hour, depending on the consistency of the wax and how warm the weather is! be patient.
3…once my candles were set, i decided i’d use them as party favours so i labelled them with what fragrance they were and wrapped them in cellophane with glitter, like this: