1 In DIY/ Suburban Homesteading

Making Soy Candles

Any homesteader worth anything knows how to make candles. It’s like Being Self Sufficient 101. Now if you haven’t done it before, no need to worry. It is an easy task to accomplish and master. It has the added benefit of being fun to do as well, so yay! (See we’re having fun already) This post will look at making soy candles as opposed to beeswax ones. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some beeswax candles, but I’m just not making them today. Ok? I will post about them in the future so no need to fret.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

making soy candles

Beeswax candles

Beeswax candles are going to win this battle as long as they are made with pure beeswax and the wicks are cotton and have not been dipped in paraffin. They tend to burn at a lower temperature than paraffin candles which means they will last longer and produce less soot. Beeswax candles can emit negative ions when burned. Negative ions circulate the room neutralizing the positive static charges that keep contaminants airborne.

The best thing about using beeswax is that it is a natural by-product of the beekeeping industry. If you are lucky enough to be able to have your own hive (I’m not, those pesky by-laws again) then you have a built-in source for your wax. If not then you will hopefully be able to find a local apiary (beekeeper). This is a win-win situation as you can get the wax you need and you will help support them. As an added bonus why not grab some delicious honey too?

Paraffin candles

Paraffin wax is not good people. Sadly, many popular brands like Bath and Body Works or Yankee candles that so many people love (including me cause they smell so good) are choc-full of this stuff. It was coming to this sad realization that made me want to make my own soy candles. So why is paraffin so bad? Well, it is made from petroleum waste, this is not a good thing, trust me. When it is burned it can release carcinogens (benzene, toluene, and acetone) and if inhaled it can lead to headaches and nausea. They can also produce similar toxic by-products that occur in diesel exhaust.

Have you ever noticed the black rim that can occur around the top of these candles? Well, that’s soot people. Soot is the solid particle that results from incomplete combustion of carboncontaining fuels, mostly from petroleum-based fuels. It is known as petro-carbon soot which is not found in soy or beeswax candles.

Palm oil candles

These are also known to burn cleanly but then there is the whole palm oil debate which I explain in my cold process soap post. If you want to know more about palm oil or about making your own soap check it out.

Soy candles

While beeswax candles are the clear winners in the candle wars, soy candles are a close second. As long as they are made with pesticide-free and non-GMO organic soy. Assuming this is true, then they are a clean and renewable choice. Using non-organic soy is bad as it is water and pesticide-intensive, as well as being a genetically modified crop (and nobody wants this). It is important to note that the source of the soy is the deal-breaker. The Amazon rainforest is one of the soy industry’s biggest victims. The amount of deforestation rose quickly since 2015 and continues to rise with the increased demand for soy products.  So make sure you know where your soy wax is coming from!

Soy wax is 100% biodegradable and is derived from natural vegetables and also has the added benefit of burning longer than paraffin candles. Soy candles are virtually soot-free, so they are a better choice (than paraffin ones) for people with allergies, asthma or other respiratory sensitivities.

Do soy candles produce soot?

Anything that burns can cause soot. That said the amount of soot produced from burning soy candles with NO paraffin wax (including on the wick) will produce almost no soot. Which is a very good thing. This means soy candles burn much cleaner than their paraffin competition. You won’t end up with unsightly black marks at the top of a soy candle or on your walls or curtains. Seriusly, if you burn a lot of paraffin candles the soot deposits will biuld up in your home (and in your lungs).

Can soy candles go bad?

They can definitely lose their smell over time, and if you are using essential oils they will come with their own expiration dates. If you have put colour into your candles, these can also fade over time. Especially if they are left exposed to the sun (which will also dissipate the smell too). So if you are not going to use your candles right away it is a good idea to store them in a cool, dark place.

Soy candles and pets

When it comes to your pets, the same toxins and chemical compounds that are toxic for humans to inhale are going to be even more potent for the wee beasties. In addition to benzene, compounds such as Carbon Tetrachloride and lead are often found in the scented wax of many candles or the composition of the candle wicks. All three of these compounds can prove deadly for your cat.

The concentration of these emissions can linger in the air for up to 10 hours after the candle has been lit, increasing the odds of your pet being exposed. Be careful what essential oils you are using as cats (even moreso than dogs) are sensitive to many of them.

Also, which should go without saying but I will say it anyway, don’t leave burning candles and cats unsupervised. One, they could burn their little faces off or they could in true cat fashion push a lit candle onto the floor. Which would be terribly bad for all involved. Chances are neither of these things would happen but why take the chance?

making soy candles

Essential oils vs Fragrance oils

Using oils, either essential or fragrance or none at all is totally a personal decision. Purists will say use nothing as it reduces the chances of anything going airborne, which may or may not bother you.

Essential oils are a better choice than fragrance oils as they are more natural. But burning anything can release things into the air. After the Bath and Body Works revelations from my research, I am planning to stick with just essential oils. I still want some fragrance from the candles but want to keep it as natural as possible. It just means I’m not making any watermelon candles anytime soon, but I can live with that.

Keep in mind that you need to use quite a bit of essential oils and even then the smell will not be very strong. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, I’m just letting you know. A good rule of thumb is 100 drops per pound of wax.

Fragrance oils can contain phthalates, which are used to help the wax a fragrance oils bond together. I should point out that phthalates have been banned from use in children’s toys (in the USA and Europe) but they are not banned in candles. They have been linked with disruptions to the human endocrine system and cancer. So if you are going to use fragrance oils then make sure that they are phthalate-free.

Cleaning old containers

Save any leftover containers, I will show you how to reuse them and get the wax out without losing your mind or a finger. If you know the trick then bask in your superior knowledge and don’t ruin it for everyone else. If you don’t know what I’m about to say then sit back and prepare to have your mind blown. Actually, I may have built that up a bit much. But it IS kinda cool. So here we go, grab your old glass candle container. I have mine right here…

making soy candles

Set your kettle on to boil. Once it is ready you are going to carefully pour the hot water into the container until it is about a 1/2 inch from the top. Then you wait for the magic to happen…it may not look like much at first but it’s going to make your life a whole lot easier!

So just leave it to do its thing. Don’t hover ’cause that ain’t helping anyone and it will make you go nutty. Grab a book, watch Netflix or anything really, as this is going to take awhile. Eventually, the water will cool down and the wax will harden into a puck on top. Gently poke one side to break the seal.

If there is still unmelted wax at the bottom, then take off the puck at the top. Pour out the water and refill it again. If I have to do this step, I leave more space at the top and I put the puck back on top. Why? I like to have all the wax in one puck, just because.

Once all the wax has melted and the water has cooled. Push gently on one edge of the puck to break the seal. Take it out and set it aside and pour out the water. I like to refill it again with boiling water and then pour it right out and use a scrub and dish soap to give it one last cleaning. Then voila!

making soy candles

So now you should have a nice little wax puck and an empty glass container. Of course, if you don’t have any old candle containers lying around, you can always grab a trusty mason jar. They really are perfect for just about anything.

making soy candles

So now we can get down to making some soy candles!

***rolls up sleeves and puts on game face***

The Necessities

Luckily, there really aren’t too many things that you are going to need for this DIY. It’s easy peasy. ‘Cause sometimes it’s just nice to have an easy task to accomplish. So here is what you will need to make these soy candles.

making soy candles

That’s it. Now let me say right off the bat…the wood wicks cost more. But they are my go-to, I can’t help it! I just love making soy candles with wood wicks, I can’t get enough of the crackling sound they make. Hearing it just makes me smile, and so I buy them. ‘Cause it’s the little things that matter. If you just want to avoid any fuss and just get a soy candle making kit, this is a good one.

Making soy candles

How to make soy candles

Now for the fun stuff! So let’s get this show on the road. This really is a super easy DIY, the hardest part is waiting for the wax to cool before pouring it into the jars.

To start you will need something to melt your wax in. I didn’t have spare saucepan that I was willing to sacrifice so I used a 28 Fl oz can that I had cleaned out. Not ideal I will concede, but we’re homesteaders so were frugal and make do, right? to put some water in a pot and bring it to a boil.

making soy candles

Then you want to measure out your wax using a digital scale (I use the same one I do for making cold process soap). Once you have the right amount of wax, add it into whatever you are going to use to melt it. Then put the container/pot into the boiling water and wait for it to melt completely.

making soy candles

Once the wax has fully melted, carefully remove the container from the boiling water and set it aside to cool. It is important to make sure that the wax cools down to between 49-55C (120-130F). Don’t go getting all gung-ho as you may regret it later. Pour some wine, start up Netflix and chill for a bit. But don’t forget to check on the temperature. I used my infrared digital thermometer to keep an eye on things.

making soy candles

Once the wax has cooled it is time to add in the essential oils. You will need 100-200 drops of essential oil per 1lb of wax. You may be like, um, why such a big range? So I’ll tell you. When I did these the first time I used 100 drops per 1 lb of wax. The candles did give off a scent, but it was very, very light. So now I am playing around with adding more oils. It also can vary depending on the try of essential oil you add. So play around with whatever scent you have chosen. Just remember, you can always add more but you can’t take it away.

making soy candles

If you want to increase the scent given off by your candles you can put essential oils on your wicks. To do this just pour some in a glass or ceramic container and pull the wicks through and set aside. As I mentioned I love the wood wicks and I wasn’t sure about putting the oils on them. In hindsight, I wish I had tried it. So I will definitely give it a go with my next batch. But I will most likely just drip a few drops along the length of the wood wicks. This is because the wood will be much more absorbent than the regular wicks.

Next step is to set your wicks in the containers. A lot, ok most people glue them in. I was just trying to avoid the glue as who knows what’s in that. So I just set them in place, poured in the wax slowly and adjusted them as needed.

making soy candles

Then it’s time to leave them to set! Once they are all done, you can trim the wicks leaving at about 1/4″ above the surface of the wax. All that is left to do is light these bad boys and impress your friends!

making soy candles

The issues

Candle not burning evenly

Also known as tunnelling, this usually occurs because the six used was too small for the size of the container. Due to this situation, the flame is not able to melt the surface of the whole candle.

Wax pulling away from glass

If the wax in your candle pulls away from the sides of the container then there is a good chance you were naughty and didn’t wait until the wax cooled down to 49-55C (120-130F). These are known as wet spots, they don’t affect anything other than your candle not looking 100% perfect. Another option if you don’t want to wait for the wax to cool, is to warm up the containers a bit so they are at a similar temperature (try for about 66C/150F).

Have you made candles before? Do you prefer beeswax or soy? I’d love to hear your candle making experiences!

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Kira
    June 13, 2019 at 9:42 pm

    I cannot WAIT to try this out! I mean, you had my jaw on the floor with the tip about removing old wax from candle holders- and it was only up from there! I really appreciate learning more about the soy industry- I got so much from this post so THANK YOUUU!

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