How to Make Your Own Long Burning Candles
Buying or crafting your own long burning candles makes a lot of sense. You get more value for your dollar, and there's less hassle involved. If the candles are intended for functional applications, like for light or heat in the event of an emergency, getting them to burn as long as possible is a safer and far more cost effective option, too.
Beeswax and soy wax (made from hydrogenated soybean oil) are the longest lasting waxes for candles. Beeswax lasts somewhat longer than soy because it has a higher melting point, but soy wax is substantially less expensive and easier to work with. Both are renewable resources, too, unlike paraffin, which is a petroleum product.
There are several ways to extend the life of any candle. Here are a few:
- Wrap candles in plastic and freeze them before using them.
- Keep the wick trimmed! No more than a quarter inch is necessary as larger flames will burn down the candle faster.
- Start a candle only when you plan to keep it burning a while. Candles burn more efficiently and slowly when there's a pool of wax around the base of the wick.
How to Make Long Burning Candles
We'll work with soy for this tutorial. Beyond being a cost effective ingredient, soy wax can be melted in the microwave instead of requiring a double-boiler like beeswax or paraffin. This makes creating soy candles a fast, fun project. Just remember, if you’re making long burning candles for use during an emergency, it’s safer not to add a fragrance. Though you may enjoy a scent normally, being cooped up in your home and unable to open the windows if it’s cold outside means you’ll be smelling the same scent 24 hours a day, for potentially days on end. This may make you sick, on top of being very agitating.
Here's what you'll need:
- Soy wax (flaked wax melts easiest)
- Jars (or other containers)
- Tabs (They hold the wicks in place.)
- A glass container with a spout (a Pyrex measuring cup is perfect)
- Heavy gloves
- Check jars for heat resistance. (Canning jars are always a good choice because they're made to withstand boiling temperatures for long periods). If you want to use another type of container, heat test it by pouring boiling water inside, if it doesn't crack, it will probably stand up to hot wax.
- Clean and dry the jars (or other containers) you plan on using.
- Prep the wicks by threading them through the tab bases and trimming the tops so they'll stand taller than the expected level of the wax.
- Place a dab of hot wax from another candle (a taper works well) on the center bottom of the jar's interior, and affix the tab to the wax. The wick should stand up like a tiny pole in the center of the jar. A spot of wax under each tab will hold the wicks in place for the rest of the process.
- Melt the soy wax in a glass pitcher or measuring cup according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Pour the hot wax into the jar, being careful not to upset the wick. If the wick shifts, move it back into position while the wax is still warm. Watch your fingers and hands. Wax is very hot and hard to get off your skin before it hardens.
- Leave about a half-inch of space between the top of the wax and the rim of the jar.
- Once the wax cools, trim the wick to about a quarter-inch above the surface of the candle.
A 4-ounce soy candle should burn for between 20 and 25 hours. You can double that for an 8 ounce candle. For larger candles with more light and heat, use bigger jars and employ multiple wicks.
You can find all the ingredients for candle making, including accessory items like colorants (dyes) and fragrances (essential oils) online or at your local craft outlet.