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I haven’t burned candles for years because of the toxins they emit. It seems mind-boggling, but paraffin candles emit toluene and benzene when burned. Those are the same carcinogens found in diesel fumes! And if that isn’t scary enough the wicks can contain metals like lead and can actually release a hazardous amount into the air when burned. Paraffin is a petroleum-based product, and even the American Lung Association has warned of the hazardous soot and fumes.
Once you know these facts, you can’t un-know them. I couldn’t burn candles around my children in good conscience so I rid my home of them. In their place we diffuse essential oils, which smell amazing and have many benefits but it’s just not the same as the flickering glow of candlelight.
I’ve recently been on a quest to practice hygge in my home, which is essentially the Danish art of coziness. Soft lights, cozy blankets, and a hot cup of tea while you disappear into your favorite book seemed like a magical way to end my night, so I decided to reopen the candle issue.
After a little research I discovered that there ARE clean burning options! 100% beeswax and organic soy candles don’t emit toxic fumes when burned, and have little to no soot. I love the soft honey smell that natural beeswax produces, plus it emits negatives ions that actually purify the air. After some looking online I discovered that a lot of beeswax candles aren’t 100% beeswax, they are mixed with paraffin. Or the shipping cost made the price prohibitive.
I remember making candles as a child, and it was really easy, so I decided to order a few components and make my own beeswax candles. While dipping candles to make tapers is probably the most fun, it takes a ton of beeswax, so I decided to start small with some pour candles using containers I already had on hand.
How much beeswax you use per batch will really depend on your containers. 1 lb of beeswax netted me 5 candles poured into very small, short mason jars. After your first batch you will definitely have a better idea of how much to melt for each container size.
Lets talk about wicks for a moment. The wicks I use are metal-free and all natural. They are pre-waxed, but with soy wax. There is no point in making a toxin free candle if you are using a wick with lead or paraffin wax on it! Also, apparently there is a bit of an art to choosing the correct size of wick for your wax and container. This page has tons of great information! Beeswax is hard and burns hotter, so typically needs a larger wick than a paraffin candle of the same size. My smaller containers burned more smoothly with these wicks than the shorter, wider ones, so if you have wide-diameter jars you may want a heavier wick. Don’t let this scare you off. I randomly ordered the medium wicks and they were just fine for my candles.
I used wick stickers to secure the wick in my containers. These are an extra expense, but they make it so much easier to get the wicks in straight. Why make life more difficult than it has to be?? You also don’t HAVE to use a pouring pot, you can use a pyrex measuring cup or any heat-safe container, but I plan to keep making candles and didn’t want to hassle with cleaning wax out of something I used in the kitchen. I used a regular wooden spoon to stir. I just wipe it with a paper towel while the wax is still hot. It actually conditioned and sealed my spoon nicely!
I made two different batches so I could experiment with just straight beeswax, and then one batch with a little coconut oil. For the candles with coconut oil I used 1/4 C to 2 C of beeswax. I like the natural scent of the plain beeswax better, but I think the candles with the coconut oil burn a bit smoother with less soot. There isn’t a whole lot of soot that comes off of EITHER type of candle, but I was really being critical so I can perfect my “recipe.” If you want to add fragrance, like essential oils, to your candles you will definitely want to add some coconut oil as it will hold the scent better. I did not scent mine because I diffuse essential oils if I want scent, I just wanted the ambience of a flickering candle. If you do add fragrance, add 2 T of essential oils after the wax is melted and removed from heat.
DIY Beeswax Candles Instructions:
wooden spoon or other utensil to stir
a few pens to stabilize wicks
Attach the wick stickers to the wicks, then stick to the middle of the bottom of your jars. If your wicks aren’t perfectly straight, don’t worry too much as we will be stabilizing them into position later.
Add your waxes to your pouring pot and melt using a double boiler method. This means putting and inch or two of water in a stock pot, then placing your pouring pot in the water. This will ensure the wax melts evenly without scorching. Stir occasionally until wax is melted into a completely liquid form. Carefully pour into your mason jars.
Straighten the wicks and stabilize them with the clip of a pen. Allow the candles to set up in a warm area. If the wax cools too quickly it can crack, which won’t affect the usability of the candle but is not as aesthetically pleasing.
If you don’t want to use the coconut oil, follow these instructions and just omit it. Allow the candles to set up for a day or two, then snip the wick down to 1/4″ before burning. When using for the first time allow the candle to burn til the entire top is melted. This way the candle won’t “tunnel,” which means just burning a small hole in the middle with a bunch of unused wax around the edges. Don’t worry if this happens though, you can just reuse the wax for your next batch of candles.
I am so pleased with how my candles turn out, and am loving being able to enjoy candlelight again. I have a few burning beside me as we speak and I smell not smoke or soot, only the soft honey of the beeswax. Its so simple and easy to make these clean-burning candles, I hope you whip up your own batch!