How to Make Jar and Other Container-Based Candles

If you've always wanted to make candles—either for fun or to save money or both—but never knew where to start, this guide is for you. Just follow this simple four-step process from beginning to end, and soon you'll have jar or container-based candles to burn in your home or ready as gifts. 

  • 01 of 06

    Candle Making Supplies

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

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

    • Several empty jars or containers
    • A double boiler
    • Candle wax
    • Candle wicks (I recommend pre-waxed and wired wicks with wicks clips)
    • Crayon pieces for coloring the wax
    • Oven mitts
    • Wax paper
    • Optional: candle fragrance
  • 02 of 06

    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 that spills will be easy to clean up.

    Insert 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.

  • 03 of 06

    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. 

    Assemble Your Double Boiler
    For safety reasons, wax should always be heated in a double boiler, which is essentially a pan inside of a pan. Fill the bottom 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 the pan you use is dispensible because it will 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 top of the double boiler, or the pan-within-the-pan. Then, heat over medium heat until the wax is completely melted.

    Add Color
    Decide what color you want your candles to be and then add bits of crayons to the wax and heat until melted. Continue adding bits of crayon until you are satisfied with the darkness of 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 is a good indicator of your finished color.

    Add Candle Fragrance
    Add fragrance to the wax if desired but be careful not to overdo it. Then, turn the stove off.

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

  • 04 of 06

    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.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    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 depression. Then, once the new wax has hardened, simply trim the wick down to size, and your candle is ready for use.

  • 06 of 06

    Clean Up Tips

    Candle Making Supplies
    Candle Making Supplies. Erin Huffstetler

    Cleaning up after a project is never fun, but if you follow a few 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.