Way back when I started pouring soy candles I used jars that I rescued from recycling bins and op shops - then I made concrete pots and poured delicious warm scented wax into them. Eventually I started buying candle vessels for candle making with the intention that I'd find a way to offer a refilling service. Fast forward four years and I still haven't found a way to make it work!
So, I really urge you to refill your own empty candle vessels. By all means, buy a fresh one if you can't resist, but please add it to your candle filling roster. I've put together some step by step instructions to refill your empty soy candles including what to buy and where to buy it from!
The "proper" way to make candles is using a double boiler, but I use a microwave proof jug in the microwave. I can melt just over 1 litre of wax at a time (about 1.2l at a push) and so I can fill two large candles at once, or three medium size candles. I have found that it's easier to clean clear candle jars (instead of frosted ones) so now I look for clear jars when buying candles.
You can start refilling your empty soy candles with relatively little set up costs. If you already have a microwave, all you need in terms of equipment is;
- A 1 litre microwave jug (this Anchor Hocking one from Briscoes is good)
- A rubber spatula (I use something like this one from Briscoes)
- A thermometer (I bought one of these from Candle Creations)
At full price the jug is $24.99 and the spatula is $9.99, but we all know that Briscoes is partial to a sale, so for this exercise we'll pretend we got 50% off each of the items, so we're looking at an investment of about $17.50 (plus delivery if you're shopping online), and another $6.50 for the thermometer.
If you're tuning in from over the ditch in Australia something like this measuring jug from Kmart would do the trick, and here's a rubber spatula that would work (although I personally prefer for there not to be an option for the rubber bit to fall off the end), so at full price the Aussies are looking at a $9.50 investment of candle making equipment.
Candle Creations recently released a wangle fangle candle maker that is programmed to heat the wax to the correct temperature and even stirs the wax and fragrance for you! It comes with a 500ml jug but I see there's now a bigger 1 litre jug available for pre-order. This is the very easy (but not as cheap) option.
You will already have glassware so you don't need to buy anything new (that's the point after all). To clean mine I chipped out the last of the wax with a butter knife and scraped the sides (this can be a bit messy with frosted glass which is why I now prefer clear glass), then I rinsed well with hot water and a cloth to get the last of the wax out.
To refill your soy candles you will need;
- Soy wax
- Wick holders (not essential but very handy)
- I also use wick stickers but these aren't compulsory
I use Golden Wax 464 because it's easy to work with (I get my soy wax from here, Australians can get their soy wax from here). The wax keeps well so I tend to buy mine in bulk 22.7kg at a time (which makes it only $6.39/kg), but if you would like to start small you can buy as little as 1kg for $12.50.
1kg of wax will melt to 1.1l so this is a bit more than enough to refill two 500g candles. This is enough to refill three 400g candles because the fragrance will top the pour up to be enough for the total amount required to fill all three candles.
I use natural cotton wicks for my candles. I had a total mare with wood wicks once and haven't used them since - I also find that the wick holders are bigger and so the candle doesn't burn down as far as a cotton wick. I get my cotton wicks from here (Australians can get cotton wicks from here).
It pays to measure the width (or diameter) of your vessels so that you know what size wicks to buy - this is so the soy wax burns all the way to the edge. Wicks should come with wick tabs (the metal bit on the bottom), I tend to buy the longer wicks (the 300mm ones) and then I buy extra wick tabs so that I can cut the wicks and use the off cuts.
I choose to use wick stickers to stick the wicks to the bottom of the clean jar, but it is possible to pour the wax and wait for the bottom to set a bit and then add the wick - the semi set wax should hold the wick tab to the bottom of the glass. I also use wooden wick holders (you can get a pack of 10 for $2.50 - these can be reused time and again).
You also need fragrance and the choices can be a bit overwhelming! There is a huge range of fragrances online here, some popular fragrances are;
- Raspberry and Vanilla
- Cinnamon and Vanilla
- Coconut and Lime
- French Pear
- Pina Colada
- Sweet Pea and Jasmine
- White Chocolate and Macadamia
I find that the fragrance keeps very well also (I store it in a cool, dark place) and so I tend to buy mine in 500ml bottles, but if you are refilling a 400g candle, the 30ml fragrance option will be enough, if you are refilling two 500g candles I would go for 100ml option. Fragrance load is usually about 8%.
So once I've cleaned up the empty candle glassware, I stick the wick to the bottom of the jar, I thread the wick through the wooden wickholder and then melt the wax. I melt the wax in two batches - I fill the jug to the very top with wax flakes, melt it, then fill the jug again with flakes and melt it again, I end up with just over 1 litre of melted wax.
All microwaves are different but I find it takes 3 min 30 sec for each melt. This takes the wax temperature to about 75-80 degrees, and this is when I add the fragrance. Because the fragrance load is about 8%, I have a 1/3 cup (80ml) that I use to measure the fragrance oil (note: once you use the measuring cup it's not reusable for kitchen stuff!).
I stir the wax/fragrance combo for about two minutes and then wait for it to cool to between 60-65 degrees which I've found to be the best pouring temperature. I give the mix another stir and then pour it into the vessel and leave the wax to set. It's important not to move the candles while the wax is setting because it can effect the way they set.
Once the candles have completely set you can cut the wicks. Sometimes it takes longer than you think so leave them as long as possible - cutting the wicks too early can effect the finish of the candles but again, these will be good as new after the first burn.
From time to time the candles set terribly - I haven't been able to figure out why! The tops of the candles will have holes and ripples - for obvious reasons they aren't great if you're producing a product for sale, but if you're just making candles for yourself this is quite fine! After the first burn these candles will be just like a bought one!