Are you captivated by the charm of handmade candles and thinking about crafting your own in Chicago? Whether you're a hobbyist or aspiring to start a Chicago-based candle company, the process of making candles at home can seem daunting with the myriad of wicks, waxes, and containers available. Fear not! This beginner-friendly guide is tailored to help you navigate the essentials, ensuring a seamless start to your candle-making journey.
Whether you have just a kitchen counter, $20, or an enthusiastic DIY spirit, candle making is within your reach.
Basic Candle Making Supplies You’ll Need
Understanding the basics before you splurge on supplies is crucial—it saves both money and unnecessary stress, especially for beginners.
Wax: The Heart of Candle Making
Wax is fundamental. It's what you melt, mix, and set into a mold or container with a wick at the center. The go-to choices for novices are usually paraffin and soy wax, both possessing distinct qualities yet are excellent for starters. You could even blend them to leverage their combined properties. For robust "pillar" candles, opt for sturdy waxes like paraffin, beeswax, or palm wax.
Wicks: The Soul of Your Candle
Selecting the correct wick may seem simple but can be the most complex task. Wicks are categorized by type (reflecting manufacturing variations like CD, ECO, wooden, LX, HTP) and size, with the latter based on the diameter of your candle. You'll also need wick stickers or a high-temperature glue to secure the wick to your container.
Fragrance or Essential Oils: The Spirit of the Experience
Often the most expensive component, fragrance oil adds personality to your candles. Starting with oils specifically for candles is more manageable, as essential oils can be tricky and require a fine-tuned balance with your wax and wick. The fragrance concentration in candles typically ranges between 5%-10%.
Containers or Molds: The Body of Your Creation
Heat-resistant containers are a must for candle making, be it glass jars, tins, or ceramics. For mold-free candles, you'll directly need a mold, often available at the same outlets as containers.
Dye: The Aesthetic Touch
Dyes can add a vibrant flair to your candles. Options like dye chips or liquid dyes can be integrated into the melted wax for that pop of color.
Where to Purchase Candle Making Supplies
You can find the essentials at local craft stores like Hobby Lobby or Michaels, which usually have a dedicated candle making section. However, a specialized candle supply store is your best bet for variety if one is within reach. Online retailers are a convenient alternative, with popular ones including Candlescience, Lone Star Candle Supply, and Aztec Candle & Soap Supplies, among others.
Candle Making Equipment: The Tools of the Trade
Fire Safety Equipment: A Non-Negotiable Essential
Never forget a fire extinguisher when working with flammable materials and heat.
Double Boiler: A DIY Apparatus
You don’t purchase a double boiler—you create one. This can be as simple as using a large pot to boil water with a smaller pot or heat-resistant glass inside for melting wax, providing control and minimizing wax damage.
Thermometer: The Precision Tool
Accurate temperature control is vital for optimal burning and fragrance throw. Choose from IR or glass thermometers, but stay consistent with your choice throughout the process.
Stirring Utensil: For the Perfect Blend
A wooden or silicone spatula is ideal for mixing wax and fragrance. Alternatively, a glass thermometer can serve a dual purpose here.
Wick Centering Tools: For a Professional Finish
Clothespins or wick bars help keep the wick centered after pouring the wax—a small but critical step for candle perfection.
Budget-Friendly Candle Making Setups
The Simple Kit ($45 – $100)
For those who prefer a ready-to-go solution, candle making kits are available at various price points, offering pre-measured wax, jars, fragrances, wicks, and essential equipment.
The “MacGyver” Approach ($15 – $50)
If you're not keen on a kit, the "MacGyver" method involves utilizing household items to save costs—think measuring glasses, kitchen scales, meat thermometers, and homemade double boilers.
Beginner candle makers, fear not—the art of candle crafting is within your reach with these essential supplies and a bit of resourcefulness. Whether opting for a complete kit or a more frugal approach, the path to creating your very own candles is paved with endless possibilities and the promise of cozy, fragrant lighting crafted by your own hands. Happy candle making.