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How to refill your old candle vessels and give them a gorgeous new life

Candlemaker Veronica Gutierrez shows how to clean and fill empty containers — and add a little embellishment too.

Candlemaker Veronica Gutierrez shows how to clean and fill empty containers and add a little embellishment too

10 lit candles in different sizes and different colour glass vessels, sitting on a pale pink surface with a pale pink fabric background behind it.
(Photography by Michael Kai Young)

We all have that one empty candle vessel that's become part of our decor and is too pretty to part with. This DIY will show you how to give it a new life by turning it into a beautiful new candle in just a few hours. It's the perfect small project for the colder months. You'll just need a few items that can be found around the house, and a few others like soy wax, cotton wick and fragrance oil that can all be easily found at your local craft store or online.  Your new (refreshed) candle will be perfect for keeping exactly where you've grown to like it — or for gifting to someone.

Part 1 — The cleaning process

What you'll need:

  • Old candle vessel
  • Well-fitting oven mitts or dishcloth (see note below)
  • Butter knife
  • Paper towel
  • Small pot
  • Small used carton/plastic container that can be be tossed out

Note: Well-fitting oven mitts are important so the candle vessel doesn't slip out of your hand. Regular oven mitts — large ones that go over your whole hand — are not as safe for this DIY, because they make it difficult to grasp onto the vessel properly.

Overhead shot of a metal pot, 3 pieces of paper towel, a candle in a pink glass vessel, a butter knife and a pink silicone oven mitt, all on a pale pink surface.
(Photography by Michael Kai Young)

How to do it:

1. Write down the number of ounces listed on the label of the old candle vessel and set this info aside for later.

2. Boil 1 cup of water in a small pot. 

3. Add the old candle vessel to the boiling water, making sure it is sitting upright inside of the pot. Wait 5 minutes or until the wax has turned into liquid, then turn off the burner.

A hand lowers an empty glass candle vessel into a silver pot on a hot plate sitting on a pale pink surface with a pale pink background.
(Photography by Michael Kai Young)

4. Use a tight-fitting oven mitt or dishcloth to carefully remove the candle vessel and pour any old wax into a small used carton or plastic container.

5. Quickly use a paper towel to clean out any remaining wax from the inside of the vessel before it hardens again. You can use a butter knife as a tool to get into any corners.

Part 2 — Making your new candle

What you'll need:

  • Clean vessel
  • Glue gun
  • Glue sticks
  • Food scale
  • Small pot
  • Wooden chopstick, for stirring
  • Wick
  • Wax (I used soy wax.)
  • Fragrance oil (see notes below) 
  • Heat-safe glass or metal measuring cup
  • Candle dye, optional
  • Heat gun (or hair dryer)
  • Decorative items (I used colourful rocks and pearls, but dried flowers or beads work as well. See notes below.)
  • Wick holders (or clothespins)
  • Scissors

Notes:

When shopping for fragrance, it should say "candle fragrance oil" or "essential oil." Avoid any other fragrances, like soap fragrance, which won't mix well with wax.

Decorative items such as dried flowers, wood, herbs, stones or gemstones in very small amounts are safe to add to your candle, but should never be added in large amounts that go over the wick. Using any of these in large quantities, or adding glitter or mica powder to the top of the candle, will not allow the wick to burn properly, and could potentially be unsafe. Glitter and mica powder may cause the flame to extinguish on its own, cause the candle not to burn properly or weaken its scent throw. (Scent throw is the strength of the candle's aroma as it permeates the space.) 

Overhead shot of a glue gun, glue sticks, a small glass bottle of fragrance, some small pebbles, a silver measuring pot, a bowl of wax pellets, three candle wicks and a heat gun, all on a pale pink background.
(Photography by Michael Kai Young)

How to do it:

1. Use a hot glue gun to add glue to the bottom of the wick (metal area) and place it at the centre of the clean vessel.

2. Look up the size of the old candle that you'd written down previously. The size will determine the amount of wax that you will need for your new candle. 

How much scented wax will I need to make?:

An 8 oz. candle needs 154 g of scented wax

A 6 oz. candle needs 115 g of scented wax

A 4 oz. candle needs 75 g of scented wax

3. To make scented wax, you'll need to add fragrance oil to the unscented wax. A few calculations will be needed for the next steps to calculate how much fragrance is needed to add 10 per cent of the candle's weight in fragrance oil. The calculations below are based on the 154 g of scented wax required for my 8 oz. vessel. Adjust the amount of wax depending on your candle size.

a) Divide the total weight of scented wax by 110 per cent. (10 per cent is the amount of fragrance you will be adding.) Then, subtract that number from your total weight of wax to determine the exact amount of fragrance you'll need. 

General calculation:

X =  total weight of candle wax after adding fragrance, in grams (see chart above) 

Y = weight of unscented wax required, in grams

X ÷ 110% = Y 

X - Y = weight of fragrance oil needed for the candle, in grams

For my 8 oz. candle, that looks like: 

154 g ÷ 110% = 140 g (unscented wax)

154 g - 140 g = 14 g (grams of fragrance needed for the candle)

b) Add the required weight of fragrance oil to a small dish. I needed 14 g. I used my food scale to weigh the fragrance oil and wax to make sure I got the exact amount required. 

4. Pour the unscented wax into your heat-safe measuring cup. I used 140 g. 

5. Bring water to a boil in a small pot and place the measuring cup in the water. Or, if you have a heat-safe metal measuring cup, place it directly on the burner to heat the wax. Wait 5-10 minutes or until wax is liquefied/looks clear.

6. Turn the burner off and remove the measuring cup using your oven mitt or tongs. Place it on a heat-safe surface.

7. Immediately add the fragrance oil to the measuring cup and stir constantly with a wooden chopstick for 3-5 minutes. (Important: stirring for less time than recommended will not allow the fragrance oil to bind to the wax). I left the candle its natural colour, but if you'd like, you can add a small amount of candle dye and mix it with the fragrance. 

The strength of the candle dye depends on the product purchased, as all dyes are different. First, add a few drops or flakes and you will see the colour of the wax changing. If you'd like to keep the tint fairly light, 3-5 drops or flakes should be enough. As you add more, the colour will darken. The dye will not change the calculations made above because you'll only be using a few drops or small flakes. 

8. Slowly pour the scented candle wax into your clean vessel.

A person shown from the shoulders down to the waist, standing in front of a pale pink fabric background, pouring melted wax from a metal measuring pot into a pink glass candle vessel. The vessel is on a gold wire rack on top of a pale pink surface.
(Photography by Michael Kai Young)

9. Use a wick holder or clothespin to hold the wick straight in the middle of the vessel. Let the wax harden for 5 hours. 

10. Use scissors to carefully trim the wick, leaving about an inch of wick sticking out from the surface of the wax.

11. Use a heat gun (or a blow dryer) to heat up the top of the candle for about 20 seconds or until you see liquid wax at the top of the candle.

12. While the top of the candle is hot, add the decorative pieces. I used colourful rocks and pearls. Beads or dried flowers work well, too.

Overhead shot of 2 hands using tweezers to place decorative pebbles onto the top of a candle in a pink glass vessel.
(Photography by Michael Kai Young)
Closeup on 2 hands holding a candle to the camera. The candle wax is white, has decorative pebbles on top and is in a pink glass vessel.
(Photography by Michael Kai Young)

13. Wait a full week before lighting the candle if you used soy wax. If you used paraffin wax, you'll only need to wait 24 hours. 

And there you have it — a beautiful, brand new candle made by you! 

4 lit candles in different sizes and different colour glass vessels, sitting on a pale pink surface with a pale pink fabric background behind it. A hand holding a lit match lights the candle in the middle.
(Photography by Michael Kai Young)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veronica Gutierrez is the CEO and creative director of This Candle Is Lit, a creative candle studio located in Toronto. She began her journey by creating candles for her son's first birthday and is now working with brands to create unique pieces just for them! She also has her own line of candles and runs monthly candle workshops in the city. You can find her at thiscandleislit.com and @thiscandle.islit.

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