01 of 10
What You Need to Make a Sand Candle
If you're like me, you probably made a sand candle at some time in your youth. For me, it was when I was a second-grader and participated in a summer program called the Beaver Bug Club. We dug holes in the sandbox and the teacher poured the wax into them. That sand candle has been sitting on my mom's curio shelf for over 30 years.
And while it is a great kid's project (if carefully supervised), there are lots of fun things that we grown-ups can do with sand candles.
For this project, you'll need:
- A large bucket or a plastic dishpan
- Clean sand
- Spray bottle with water
- A jar, glass, votive holder, ball, or other objects to use as a form.
- A tablespoon you won't mind getting wax on
- Wax to fill whatever size hole you're going to make—we usually use a pillar blend wax or just straight paraffin. You don't want to use container wax, it will be too soft.
- Primed wick appropriate for your mold/form. For example, if your mold/form is votive size, just use a standard zinc core votive wick.
- Dye and/or fragrance, as desired
- Heat gun
Let's get started.Continue to 2 of 10 below.
02 of 10
Create the Mold/Form for the Sand Candle
Think sand castle...That's how wet you want the sand. Dry enough so that it's not drippy...but just wet enough to hold its shape. Err on the dry side, and spritz it a bit with the water.
Gently press your jar or form down into the sand making sure to push straight down without twisting. Gently pull the form back out and check to make sure that the sides are solid with no spaces or air pockets.
Continue to 3 of 10 below.
- Instead of using a jar or glass, just make a free form hole in whatever shape you like—star, amoeba, blob—you pick.
- After you've made your hole, create "legs" for the candle by pushing three or four fingers about 1/2" down into the bottom of the candle.
- Embed shells or sea glass into the sides of the hole.
03 of 10
Heat and Pour the Wax for the Sand Candle
Here's where all of your candle making safety instincts will have to be temporarily put aside. Sand candles require hot wax. Much hotter than you can get in a double boiler. So you'll need to heat your wax directly over the heat source.
BE CAREFUL! Do not leave the wax unattended for even a moment.
The pouring temperature of the wax determines how thick the sand "crust" will be on the final candle. Pouring the wax at about 225° will give you a thin, light coating of sand. 250° will give you a medium "crust." 275° will give you a nice thick "crust."
Heat the wax to your desired temperature. If this is your first time, we recommend about 250°. Do not add any fragrance or color to this wax—the color will be distorted by the high heat and the fragrance will burn off.
Using the tablespoon to deflect the wax, slowly pour the wax into the hole. The spoon helps the hot wax disperse better without causing the hole to cave in. Depending on how wet your sand is you will likely hear a sizzling. This is just the water being evaporated out by the wax. You will notice that the wax begins to seep into the side of the hole. Fill the hole and let it seep. We'll come back and do a second pour in a bit.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
04 of 10
Setting the Wick for the Sand Candle
There are many different ways to set the wick in a sand candle.
Continue to 5 of 10 below.
- You can stick the wick into the sand before you pour the wax—but it often falls over when you pour
- You can stick the wick in after you've done the first pour—we prefer this way and it's what we did here. Use an ice pick or stick to make a small indentation in the bottom of the poured candle and nestle the wick into that hole. If you need to, stabilize the wick with a wick bar, straw or popsicle stick. You can also just drop a tabbed wick (like a pre-made votive wick) into the candle.
- You can wait until the candle has formed a "skin" over the top, pierce the top with an ice pick or stick and stick the wick in there.
- You can add the wick once the candle is complete. This is the way Norma Coney does it in The Complete Candlemaker. Once the candle is done, she drills a hole in the center of the candle and inserts the wick. (We think it's easiest to add it when the wax is liquid.)
05 of 10
Doing a Second Pour
You'll be amazed at just how much wax is soaked up by the sand...especially if you've poured at a high temperature. You'll need to do at least one extra pour to add more wax to the candle. You don't have to get the wax as hot, though. The shell of the candle has already been made in the sand. Similarly, you shouldn't need to use the spoon to disperse the wax.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
06 of 10
Doing a Final Pour
After a second (or third or fourth) pour, you're ready for your final pour. The wax will have shrunk as any votive or pillar candle does. Note: In each pour after the first very hot one, even on the second pour, you can add fragrance or color if desired.
You can also fix minor dips from shrinkage by topping it off with a heat gun.
Variation: We love using sand candles to make outdoor citronella candles. You don't have to worry about the sand flecking off as you do inside the house...and they're great for a beach/summer/tiki theme backyard.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
07 of 10
Dig the Candles Out
After the candles have completely hardened, dig them out of the sand with the spoon. Rub the sides gently to get the very loose sand off, but don't brush too hard.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
08 of 10
Seal the Sides
Some people recommend a blow torch for this step, but we find a heat gun works just as well.
Using either, heat the side of the candle. You'll notice the sand becomes a bit darker as the wax melts a bit and penetrates outwards. The heat helps draw the wax through the outer layer of sand and seal it.
Note: Unless you're wearing heavy gloves, or have heat resistant skin, it's best to set the candle on a flat surface to seal it.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Level the Bottom
Depending on how steady your mold-formation was, or how even your "feet" were, you may need to level the bottom of the candle.
Cover a frying pan with foil and put it over the heat. Set the candle onto the hot foil, holding it level, and melt/level the bottom.
Tip: You can skip this step if you're careful to make your mold holes level and/or your "feet" even.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
10 of 10
Finished Sand Candles
Arrange your sand candles in the window sill or on the back deck and enjoy your creations.