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How to Make Soy Candles at Home: Step by Step Guide

How to make soy candles at home
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / VMonte13

Using soy wax is a great way to make personalized, long-lasting candles that won’t hurt the earth. Here’s a guide and some helpful tips for making your own soy candles at home.

Soybeans before being turned into wax.
Soybeans before being turned into wax.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Jing)

Soy wax offers multiple benefits over other waxes when it comes to candle making. Where many other candles can also contain animal by-products, such as animal fats like stearic acid, tallow and beeswax, soy wax is one of the few definitively vegan options for candle enthusiasts. 

Furthermore, most candles you can buy at the store are made of paraffin, a waste product of petroleum. When a paraffin candle burns, it produces soot which becomes airborne. This can usually be seen most clearly by a residue left on the inside of the container but can also deposit itself on ceilings and walls. Most concerning, however, is its ability to be inhaled. While you can clean out a glass container or replace your wallpaper, you can’t replace your lungs. 

Soy wax not only produces 90% less soot, but it also burns longer and cooler than paraffin wax. Even better, it comes from renewable sources and is 100% biodegradable.

However, it is also worth keeping in mind the greater ecological impact of soy production. In the US alone, over 80 million acres of land are covered in soybeans, and globally it is one of the world’s most pesticide laden and genetically modified crops. The production of soy in monocultures is responsible for mass deforestation, habitat destruction, soil erosion and depletion.

To ensure you’re responsibly sourcing your soy wax, look primarily for place of origin in order to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation. Unfortunately, soy wax cannot be certified organic due to the nature of the process of turning the bean into wax.

How to Choose the Right Materials and Ingredients

Essential oils are easy to use for making DIY candles at home.
Essential oils are easy to use for making DIY candles at home.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Monfocus)

While the process of making your own soy wax candles is simple, it does require some special equipment. Most candle-making suppliers will have inexpensive beginner packs, which should provide you with everything you’ll need without asking for too much financial investment. However, if you’re ready to jump right in, we’ll go through the equipment in more detail here. Although we have linked some online suppliers, always see if you have a local or independent candle shop in your area first. 

Soy Wax: NatureWax C-3 is probably the most popular soy wax on the market, which is the one we will be using in the following recipe. However, if you are using a different brand of soy wax, you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Candle containers: Soy wax is much softer than paraffin and therefore must be poured into a container for use as a candle. While it can be poured into any container which can hold a cup of hot coffee, if you intend to use a glass container, make sure to use tempered glass. Ideally, you will want to choose containers that are cylindrical or wider at the top – look to repurpose unused homeware that you already own or from second-hand stores to give your candle a personal touch.

Wicks: When selecting the width of a wick, you must also take into account the width of the container to ensure that the wax will melt evenly to the sides. Sometimes it may be necessary to use two wicks, evenly spaced apart. If you’re shopping online, Pro Candle Supplies is a great resource for buying wicks as well as other instruments for making your own soy wax candles at home. They even have a helpful guide to wick sizing. Another option is to make candle wicks yourself following the instructions included in this article: DIY Candles: How to Make Homemade Candles from Leftover Wax

Fragrances: Essential oils are often used as fragrances in soy candlemaking thanks to their many uses in aromatherapy. You can find essential oils at most department stores and health food stores, or you can look for organic and ethically sourced brands online, e.g. at Eden’s Garden. To ensure you’re getting quality oils when shopping online, look for ones that have been extracted via distillation, as these will be free of the food grade solvents used in some extraction methods.

Making Your Own Soy Wax Candles at Home: Things You Will Need

Choose the right candle containers for your candles.
Choose the right candle containers for your candles.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Lars_Nissen)

Here’s everything you’ll need to make your candles at home.

Materials to make one 500ml (17 oz.) candle:

  • 400g (13.5 oz.) soy wax flakes
  • 1 500ml (17 oz.) candle container 
  • 1 wick
  • 30ml (2 tbsp.) essential oil

Equipment:

  • Apron / old clothes
  • Measuring jug (preferably glass)
  • Notebook and pen
  • Pan and a heatproof glass bowl to make a bain-marie
  • Thermometer
  • Wick tabs
  • Wick holder (this can be either a pair of toothpicks bound together or a Popsicle stick with a hole in the middle, it’s not necessary to buy something made specifically for this purpose)
  • Scales

How to Make Your Own DIY Soy Wax Candles

  1. Fill your candle container with water to the level you want the candle. Pour this water into the measuring jug and note the amount. We will use this to determine how much wax to use. Since wax changes properties when it’s melted, you’ll have to work out how much wax you will need using this formula: Volume of water (in ml) x 0.8 = weight of wax needed. Assemble all the materials you will need as stated above. 
  2. Fill your pan ¾ full of water and turn to medium heat, not letting the water boil. Never use a microwave to heat soy wax, as you need to be able to control the temperature of the wax. 
  3. Measure out the wax into the bowl following the above formula. Be careful not to get any water from the pan in the bowl with the wax. 
  4. Place the thermometer in the melting bowl. NatureWax C-3 should melt to no higher than 185℉. If using a different wax, always check the manufacture’s instructions. Stir gently if necessary with the thermometer. 
  5. While the wax melts, attach the wick tab to an untrimmed wick and place it in the center of your candle container, resting the top of the wick in the wick holder. For best results, the container should be kept at room temperature.
  6. Remove the wax from the heat once it has reached 185℉ and is fully liquified. Allow the wax to drop to 158℉ and add fragrance. Use approximately 30ml or 2 tablespoons of fragrance for every 500ml or 17 o.z. of wax. That’s a ratio of roughly 1:16.
  7. Now allow the temperature to drop to 150℉ before pouring the wax slowly into the container.
  8. When the wax has hardened, the surface should be smooth. Carefully lift the wick holder away and clip the wick to about ¼ inch. Don’t light the candle until at least 48 hours after pouring to allow the wax to set completely.
  9. Wash the bowl using warm water and soap. Don’t pour leftover wax down the drain as this will cause a blockage (a lesson learned the hard way!). Make use of any excess wax by pouring it into a tealight or an empty wax warmer.
  10. Enjoy your lovely new homemade soy wax candle! Now that you’ve learned how to make your own soy candles at home, you can replenish your supply whenever you run out.

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