How to Make Votive Candles

votive candle artVotives are often one of the first things candle makers learn to make, and for good reason- they are small, easy and attractive. Votive molds are one of the most inexpensive of all candle molds and very little wax and color are needed.
The only equipment that you absolutely need is wax, a wick, a votive mold and something to melt the wax. The wax can be melted in a pouring pot, a double boiler or in an old pot of any kind.

The only real criterion is that it should be a pot that you don’t ever plan on cooking with. For larger projects, a candle thermometer is a necessity to keep the melted wax from reaching its flash point, which is the point that it bursts into flames. Liquid wax is just as flammable as gasoline at that point, so extra caution is always a good idea. But, if you are making nothing more than a simple votive, the thermometer step can be skipped. The amount of wax needed will be so small that it will melt quickly and will be ready to pour right away. If you want to add color or scent to the wax, add these at this time.

While the wax is melting, affix your wick into the mold. This can be done by taking raw wick, tying it onto a stick and hanging it into the pot, or you can buy a wick attached to a wick tab. Those are the simplest- you just drop it into the mold and pour in the wax. However you affix your wick, once the wax has melted, it is ready to pour.

Pour the wax into the mold slowly. After the wax is poured close to the top of the mold, gently tap the sides of the mold. This will loosen any small air bubbles that were made during the pouring process. If the wax was poured too quickly, there may be more bubble, and you can stir the wax in the mold gently to try to loosen them. Of course, the best idea is to have as few air bubbles as possible, so make sure to pour as slowly as you can.

Once the wax is in it will need to have time to cool. Check it every 10 minutes or so to see how the wax is shaping up. Wax shrinks as it cools, but never seems to shrink in exactly the same way twice. Some votives will shrink unilaterally across the top, and some will shrink toward the middle and leave a sink hole in the top. If there is a sink hole, pour a little extra wax into it to even it up. Through trial and error, and some really hideous candles, I’ve learned that the trick is to pour just enough to fill the hole and to come even to sides of the top. If you fill it with more than that, there will very likely be a line all the way around the candle that shows where you added the extra. If you put in too little, there will be a line showing the edges of the extra amount you added in. This is the hardest part of making votives, but if the fill-in wax just touches the edges of the candle there will be no weird lines and no one will ever be the wiser.

When a votive dries, unlike many candles, the top that you see is actually the top and not the bottom. Larger candles are generally inverted after taking them out of the mold so that the shrinkage area isn’t as apparent. But with votives, the world will see that top surface. If you used the hanging wick method to make your votive, cut the wick so that it stands about 1/4 – 1/2 inch above the wax. And there it is- a lovely new votive ready to burn. Or, you can leave it lying around and warn everyone not to ever burn it, not that I ever do that. Whichever.

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