Candles are a home’s best friend. From lavender to cinnamon to vanilla, they come in almost any scent you can possibly think of. But are all candles good for the environment? And does learning how to DIY candles of your own make a difference?
The Issue with Candles
Many candles are made with paraffin wax, which can release potentially dangerous chemicals into the atmosphere when burned. Because paraffin is a petroleum byproduct, it can release soot, as well as toxic chemicals like toluene and benzene, into the air—aka things you definitely don’t want to be breathing in while you’re trying to relax.
According to Aneta Wierzbicka, a researcher and associate professor at Lund University in Sweden, candles are one of the most powerful sources of air pollution inside the home, next to cooking and tobacco use. In an interview for the New York Times, Wierzbicka recommends lighting candles in a well-ventilated room and using clean candles that don’t have too many toxic additives.
If you’re not sure about the exact ingredients in your candles and you want to light one without causing harm to yourself or the environment, DIY candles of your own! Follow these simple step-by-step instructions for a natural and eco-friendly option.
DIY Candles, Step by Step
1. Gather Your Materials
The first step to candlemaking is gathering your tools. When shopping for wax, opt for all-natural, non-toxic wax. Soy wax, coconut wax, or beeswax will work perfectly. Avoid paraffin wax to keep your candles eco-friendly. Look for labels that say 100% beeswax, soy wax, or coconut wax to be sure that paraffin hasn’t been added to the wax blend.
You’ll also need a lead-free wick, clothespins or clips, and a heat-resistant vessel to hold your candle. Mason jars and mugs work well. If you have old candle jars, you can use those, too!
2. Pick Your Scent
Picking your scent is the best part, right? There are endless options to choose from, all of which will make your home smell amazing. To add a fragrance to your candle, find an all-natural essential oil to add to your wax. Make sure the oils are free of synthetic ingredients and check the label for 100% pure oil. You can also go fragrance-free if you like your candles unscented.
3. Insert the Wick
Once you have your materials and your chosen scent, it’s time to make your candle. Make sure your lead-free wick is long enough for the vessel you’ve chosen. Place it in the center of the bottom of your candle jar. The wick should stick out about half an inch from the top of the vessel (the longer the better) to make sure you’ll have something to burn later.
4. Melt the Wax and Pour
Now you’re ready to melt the wax. There are several ways to do this step, including heating the wax in the microwave or using a wax melter. If you use a microwave, heat the wax in 30-second intervals and stir until it’s liquified. Once the wax is ready, add in a few drops of your scent of choice and stir.
Grab your potholders and pour the liquid into your heat-resistant candle vessel. This step is tedious. Make sure you don’t move the wick around too much, and try to keep it in the center of the vessel while you pour. You can use clothespins or clips to hold it in place.
5. Wait for the Wax to Harden
Allow the candle to cool off for a few hours. Once the wax cools, you’ll have a homemade candle! When the wax completely hardens, you can remove the clothespin from your wick and trim it to the desired length. The shorter the wick, the better—as long as there’s enough to burn.
6. Light Your Candle
Finally, you’re ready to light your DIY candle with your favorite rechargeable lighter. Don’t leave your candle lit for more than an hour or two at a time, and never leave the lit candle unaccompanied. Also, be sure to trim the wick after each use.
Want to Skip Some Steps?
If you’d like a little help making DIY candles, try a candlemaking kit. This option comes with 10 ounces of all-natural coconut blend wax, a lead-free cotton wick, and a wooden wick holder.
The wax is non-toxic, free of parabens, paraffin, and phthalates. When ready, the candle burns for up to 60 hours. Just like making the DIY candles above, you can use whichever vessel you already have on hand.
Whether you make DIY candles from scratch or skip some steps with a kit, basking in the glow of your all-natural and eco-friendly candle couldn’t be a better way to unwind at the end of a long day.
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