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Candle Making Tutorial
Recycling Your Old Candles into Votives & Tealights

Copyright © 2003-2008 CandleHelp.com


Tealights and votives recycled from old candles

The process is simple and easy!

Gather your supplies, set up your work area prep your votive molds or tealight cups, melt down your old candles, pour, set, and re-pour. It is just that simple to make your own tealights and votives out of your old candles! You can have new candles to enjoy in about 2 hours from start to finish!

What You Will Need - Supplies

· Our Candle Recycling Tealights & Votives Kit

· Some old candles (jar candles, pillars, votives, tapers, etc.)

· Scissors

· Silicone Mold Release Spray (optional)

· Our Wax Melting Kit , OR each of the following:

o 1 Steamer Pot or old Sauce Pan to create a double boiler

o 1 Standard Size Melting Pot with pour spout

o 1 Thermometer

Also a good idea to have around:

  • Paper towels
  • Windex (Window cleaner)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Newspaper, butcher paper, or scrap paper to cover work surfaces

What our Candle Recycling Tealights & Votives Kit comes with

How to Set Up Your Work Area

  1. Put down newspaper or butcher paper on tables and countertops to catch spills and for easy cleanup.
  2. Have paper towels and Windex on hand for cleaning stovetops.
  3. Wrap stove burner bowls in tin foil to catch drips of wax, and for easy cleanup afterwards.

How to Prep Your Votive Molds & Tealight Cups

It only takes seconds to prep votive molds and tealight cups!

For Tealights:

  1. Put out your tealight cups on the work surface, make sure it is a FLAT LEVEL SURFACE
  2. Set the pre-tabbed tealight wicks in the tealight cups.
    1. Try to get them at center, although during pour they will probably shift to one side a little

Prep your tealights before pouring the wax

  1. NOTE: Some candle makers prefer to pour the wax first and place the pre-tabbed wick in the tealight cup right after the wax is poured. The choice is yours. We advocate the pre-placement of wicks in the tealight cups to reduce the chance of wax overflow and drips from the tealight cup.

For Votives

  1. Spray inside of the votive mold with silicone mold release spray, if you are using it. To do this follow the directions on the Silicone Mold Release Spray, or hold the spray nozzle 8 to 10 inches from the votive mold and spray the inside with one or two short bursts.
  2. Place votive mold open end up on the work surface, make sure it is a FLAT LEVEL SURFACE
  3. Place pre-tabbed votive wicks inside the votive mold
    1. Try to get them at center, although during pour they will probably shift to one side a little

Prep your votives before pouring the wax

  1. NOTE: Some candle makers prefer to pour the wax first and place the pre-tabbed wick in the votive mold right after the wax is poured. The choice is yours. We advocate the pre-placement of wicks in the votive molds to reduce the chance of wax overflow and drips from the votive mold.

Melting Down Old Candles

You will need either a steamer pot or deep sauce pan, and you will also need a melting pot with a pouring spout. These two items create a double boiler to melt down your old candles.

A simple double boiler using an old sauce pan and a meting pot with a spout.

Fill the bottom part of your double boiler (the steamer pot or the deep sauce pan) with about two inches of cool water, and place on the burner set to high temperature. When the water begins to boil, turn the heat down to medium low or low.

Place the candles to be melted down into the melting pot with a pouring spout, set the melting pot in a boiling water, and attend to it as the wax liquefies. NOTE: Do not place the melting pot into the water until it begins to boil.

A variety of candles can be recycled into tealights and votives with our kit!

Before you put your candles to the heat, try to pull out the wicks in them. Sometimes this may not be possible, so just try to nip off as much burned exposed wick as you can with your scissors, to minimize particulate in the melted wax. Be sure to remove any labels there may be on the side of the candle, and be sure to check the bottom of the candle for stickers and remove those as well.

When the wax is entirely liquid (i.e., when there are no solid chunks any longer in the pot) you have successfully melted the wax.

A variety of different candles going into the melting pot with pouring spout.

It is quite likely that the wick and wick clip that your candle was originally made with, if you weren’t able to remove them before melting, will have drifted to the bottom of the melting pot. That is okay, they can stay there until after you have poured your candles. It takes a lot more trouble and makes a bigger mess to try to fish them out when the melting pot is full of wax, than to just let them be and dump them in the garbage after you have completed your candles.

Leftover wick and wick clips left over after pouring recycled candle wax into tealights and votive molds.

If you are trying to recycle an old jar candle, you may find these instructions for removing the wax from the jar helpful. Please note that the goal of this process is to get the wax from the jar into the melting pot with the pouring spout, so that you can use it to pour new candles.

Getting wax out of a jar candle

    1. Put the jar candle in boiling water (or put it in the oven on low temperature) until it melts the wax enough for the whole thing to be dumped into the melting pot with the pouring spout.
    2. You can also place the jar candle in the oven and let it stay there until it is entirely liquid and then pour it into the melting pot with the pouring spout.
    3. No matter how you do it, use oven mitts when handling the jar with the melted wax, because it will be very hot.
    4. Do not leave the jar candle alone at any time during this process, and let it heat in boiling water or in the oven ONLY as long as you need to. If the jar candle gets too hot, it will explode.

Now that your old candles are melted down, you can proceed to making new candles!

How to Make Tealights

It’s a simple three step process: Pour, Set, & Re-Pour

For tealights, you may pour at any time after the wax is melted; no specific wax temperature is required. My favored method for all candles is to wait to pour until I can just begin to see the wax solidifying (congealing) on the inside surface of the pour can. You need a spouted container to pour tealights. You can also use a wood stirring stick or a chopstick for added pouring control to reduce dribbles.

Pour: There are two methods of making the first pour for tealights, Method A is to fill the tealight cup to the rim, and Method B is to fill the tealight cup 3/4 full. The choice is yours. Be sure to save about 20% of your melted wax for the second pour you will make after the candles set.

Set: After making the first pour of wax into the tealight cups, let the tealights stand undisturbed while the wax shrinks and they cool completely. It generally takes a tealight anywhere from half an hour to an hour and a half to cool completely and shrink as much as it is going too.

Setting Tealights - As the tealights cool, the wax shrinks creating a depression in the center around the wick.

Re-Pour: Re-pour, referred to by candle makers as the “second pour”, happens after the wax in the tealight cups has cooled completely. To make the second pour, re-heat the remaining wax and pour it into the depression of the cooled wax in each tealight cup. Let stand another half hour or so to cool completely.

The 2nd pour on tealight candles

When the tealight has completely cooled, that is it! You are finished with your tealight!

How to Make Votives

Making votives is almost identical to making tealights, but with a couple added twists.

For Votives, you should let the wax cool down to around 160 to 180 degrees F, or cooler, before pouring. My favored method for votives, and all candles, is to wait to pour until I can just begin to see the wax solidifying (congealing) on the inside surface of the melting pot. You need a spouted container to pour votives. You can also use a wood stirring stick or a chopstick for added pouring control to reduce dribbles.

To check temperature of wax, immerse thermometer in wax, taking care not to let it touch the bottom of the melting pot.

Pour: Fill the votive mold up to the rim with wax. Be sure to save about 20% of your melted wax for the second pour you will make after the candles set.

1st pour for a votive candle with wick placed before pouring the wax.

Using the 2nd method for votive mold prep, you don’t place the wick until after the first pour.

Set: After making the first pour of wax into the votive molds, let the votives stand undisturbed while the wax shrinks and they cool completely. It generally takes a votive about an hour to an hour and a half (my experience is usually no longer than 2 hours, although some people report cool times of up to 4 hours) for the wax in the mold to cool and shrink.

As the votive cools in the mold, the wax shrinks creating a depression in the center around the wick.

Re-Pour: Re-pour, referred to by candle makers as the “second pour”, happens after the wax in the votive candle mold has cooled completely.

The 2nd pour of a votive candle fills the depression in the center of the candle where the wax has shrunk.

To make the second pour for a votive candle, re-heat the remaining wax and pour it into the depression of the cooled wax in the votive candle mold.

NOTE: Some people like the re-pour wax temperature to be about 10 to 15 degrees hotter than the temperature of the initial pour wax. This is a matter of style and although it is reported by some that this method aids adhesion of the 2nd pour wax to the first pour wax, it is completely optional. Beginning votive candle makers need not worry over this, as all the votives will end up in a votive candle holder and, as votive candles do, liquefying as they burn.

When making the second pour, fill the votive mold up to the rim, and just a bit higher, taking care not to fill it so much that wax dribbles over the edge.

The correct level of wax for the 2nd pour of a votive creates the slight lip at the top of a votive.

Wait another hour or so for the candle to completely cool in the votive mold, and then remove the votive from the mold. Before burning the candle, trim the wick to 1/4" (our pre-tabbed votive wicks generally run a little long, so you will likely need to trim the wick down to 1/4” before burning your new votive)

Trim the wicks on your votive candles to 1/4" before burning.

Here are some helpful tips for getting a votive out of a votive candle mold:

· If you have used silicone mold release spray, and the candle is completely cool, you should only have to turn the votive mold upside down and shake it a little to get the candle to fall right out into your hand

· If you didn’t use silicone mold release spray, try just turning it over and shaking it. If it doesn’t come out into your hand easily, try twisting the candle in the mold to loosen it.

· If that does not work, then drop the candle-filled votive mold into a large glass of warm water and leave it alone. It will eventually be set free by the water and float to the surface.

That is it, you are finished making your votive candle!

About Your Finished Candles – Remember:

· Never burn a candle unattended

· Votives need to be burned on votive holders

· Tealights can be burned in tealight holders to protect your wood and other fine surfaces

One last useful hint:

Before you burn your new votives, put a little bit of water and a couple drops of liquid dish soap in the bottom of the holder. When the votive is finished burning, the wax shell will pop out easily, so you can recycle it again!

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