Honey isn’t the only amazing product that bees make inside their hives. The wax that they create to build comb can also be used to make lip balms, crayons, beeswax food wraps, lotion bars, furniture polish, and our personal favorite: candles! Making your own beeswax candles might seem like a daunting task, but it requires few tools and limited time to produce beautiful candles that make the perfect gift.

Betterbee Chandler Mel

Betterbee’s Chandler (candlemaker), Mel Sandbrook, makes hundreds of tapers, votives, tealight, and character candles each week and is happy to share some of her tips for making candles at home.

What you’ll need to get started making beeswax candles

Tips for melting beeswax to make all types of candles

Adding beeswax to boiler

The key to making beautiful candles is to start with clean beeswax. If you are taking burr comb, wax scraped from old frames, or any wax with debris in it, you can use a spare crockpot to clean the wax before making your candles. Check out this article on processing beeswax in a crockpot.

We are also huge fans of the Lyson solar wax melter, which we throw our burr and nasty comb into, and harness the power of the sun to do the cleaning for us!

Once you have clean beeswax on hand, set up your workspace by covering the table with your shiny-side-up wax paper, newspaper, or large poster board. Place your electric hot plate on your workspace, turn it up to medium heat, and use your double boiling pot to heat up and melt your beeswax. You can estimate how much wax you will need to make your candles, or completely fill the melting pot. The beauty of beeswax is that it can be melted and re-melted without losing many of its qualities (it may lose some aroma if you melt it many times), so if you have any leftovers, you can use them the next time you make candles!

Keep the water in the double boiler at a hot simmer, not a boil, and do not try to rush the melting process. (Don’t boil wax!) Use your metal thermometer to test your wax temperature, not letting it get any hotter than 160°F. When the melted wax reaches 150-160°F, it is now ready to pour into molds.

When the time comes, if you find that there is still debris in your hot wax, use a small strainer as you pour from your double boiler into your pouring pot of choice.

Choosing the right wick for the job

Wick sizing matters! The right wick size makes for the proper burn of your candle. If it’s too small, then the candle may barely burn and extinguish quickly, too large and you’ll have an excessive flame size and “sooting.” While Betterbee has a guide for candle sizing and which wick we recommend for each candle type and size, it’s always a good idea to try a few different-sized wicks to find the one that works best for your specific needs. Here are our general rules of thumb:

  • 1” diameter tapers
    use 2/0 square braid or #2 wicking
  • Votives or candles over 3” wide
    use 51-32 zinc core wire
  • Votives or candles under 3” wide
    use 44-24 zinc core wire
    or pre-assembled votive wicks
  • Figures under 2” wide
    use 1/0 square braid wicking
  • Wide figures over 2” wide or pillars over 3” wide
    use 60 ply

Most candles have extra wicking on top after the candle is made. Before gifting or burning at your own home, trim the wick to ¼”.

How to pour tealight candles

Mel’s choice of a candle to start your crafting journey with is the tealight. You can grab a pack of tealight cups and a pack of pre-assembled tealight wicks, and you’re ready to rock!

To begin, set your tealight cups out on your workspace. Dip the bottom of the pre-assembled wick in the melted wax, then press it into the center of the tealight cup. Give them 15 seconds or so to adhere to the bottom of the cup.

From there, it’s as simple as pouring wax from your double boiler into your pouring pot or Pyrex measuring cup, and filling the cup around the wick with wax. Fill it as close to the top of the tealight cup as possible. 

To package these tealights up nicely, Mel uses the tealight candle box that holds 12 candles each. As the tealights are cooling off and solidifying (which takes about 30-45 minutes total), she sets them in the box with the lid off. When they are close to fully cooled, she points all the wicks in the same direction and puts on the clear lid. With a pretty ribbon and a nice card, this set of handmade beeswax tealights is sure to make anyone’s day!

How to pour a beeswax candle using a Lyson silicone candle mold

Have you always wanted to create a frog, beehive, or Christmas tree out of beeswax? We won’t judge; we like to create them all, with our personal favorites being the small pinecone and cube bee.

We are proud to offer around 200 Lyson candle molds and use them all the time in our own wax house. These molds are easier to use than some others because of the slit up the whole side that goes from top to bottom. It makes easy work of removing extremely detailed candles. 

Depending on the diameter of the finished candle, you might use a 1/0 square braid wicking (for smaller candles under 2” in diameter) or the more popular 60 ply wicking (for figures over 2” wide). Thread your wick of choice down through the slit in the side of the mold, pulling it up through the top of the mold, where you will center and secure the wick using a jumbo bobby pin. You want to be sure that each side of the slit matches up perfectly with the other side, then secure the mold with multiple rubber bands. If it’s all together correctly, you should barely see the slit in the mold. Be careful not to over-band it, because that can warp the mold and the final candle.

Mel’s trick: When positioning the wick, look down into the mold. Is the wick near any of the sides of the mold? If it is, move it so it’s not. If the wick is near a side of the mold, it could show through in the final candle.

Now you’re ready to pour! Pour the beeswax down as close to the center of the mold as possible and pour slowly and consistently until the wax slightly overflows the top of the mold. If you notice craters forming on the surface of the wax, continue topping off the candle with more hot wax until the candle is cooled. If you can see a gap between the candle and the mold itself, you should not add more wax as it will alter the shape of the final candle.

Be sure to let your candle fully cool before trying to remove it from the mold. If you are pouring and letting the candle cool in a 60-70°F indoor space, it could take 1 hour to 1.5 hours to cool. Feel the outside of the mold, and when it’s cool to the touch you’re ready to remove the wick from the bobby pin, peel off the rubber bands, and slowly unearth your candle by separating the mold slowly at the slit.

Mel’s trick: If in doubt, wait it out! Let your candle sit longer than you think it needs to allow it to fully cure. It’s better to let the candle fully cure than to remove it prematurely and damage it.

How to pour a beeswax candle using a polyurethane candle mold

We also offer a variety of polyurethane candle molds. Once you have your mold picked out and the correctly sized wicks on hand, grab your wicking needle and thread the wick up through the bottom of the mold. Using a jumbo bobby pin, center the wick in the middle of the mold. Rubberband the mold together and you’re ready to pour! 

Slowly and steadily pour the hot wax from your pouring pot or Pyrex into the mold, filling up to the brim of the mold with wax. As the wax cools, there will be some shrinkage. Continue to top off the mold with hot wax.

Give your candle ample time to fully cool before trying to remove it from the mold. If you are pouring and letting the candle cool in a 60-70°F indoor space, it could take 1 hour to 1.5 hours to cool. Feel the outside of the mold and, when it’s cool to the touch, you’re ready to remove the wick from the bobby pin and peel off the rubber bands. Because there aren’t slits down the side of these molds, you will have to gently grab the candle and wiggle it back and forth while slowly pulling it out of the mold.

Flatting bottom of candle

Finishing off your beeswax candles

If your candle has a bulbous bottom, it might not sit flat on a table or surface. Heat up your frying pan on high heat, then press the candle flat down into the heated bottom of the pan. Do this in quick spurts, checking on the flatness between presses. When you’re done, the candle should sit flat.

The sky’s the limit with what you can create using a wide variety of candle molds! We hope that you have fun making your own candles and let us know how it works out for you!

Warped or messy candle? No problem! Toss the whole candle and wick back into your double boiler to start over and try again. No harm, no foul!

We will dig into more advanced candle making (such as making tapers using a mold and continuous wicking) and how to make different types of candles in a future article.