How to Make Dipped Candles at Home with Kids

We are so excited to have an easy step by step tutorial on how to make candles at home. Making candles seemed too complicated or messy, but we found the candle making process easy and fun!  This year we decided to try making dipped candles together to use for our Thanksgiving table.

Homemade Dipped Candles hanging on a hook
Making candles at home made me feel like we had been transported back in time.

How to Make Candles At Home

This is a great DIY candle making activity for kids of all ages with adult supervision:

  • Younger kids can follow directions and help with the non-stove steps.
  • Older kids can get creative and design how they dip their candles.

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supplies needed for candle dipping at home includes wax, scissors, string, weights, stick or ruler, jars and large pot
This is what you will need to do candle dipping at home.

Supplies Needed

  • Wax*- can use wax beads or old candles chopped up
  • Candle wicks (purchased at craft store, costs about $2.50 for 15 ft), cut into 10″ lengths
  • Empty clean large soup cans or glass jars
  • Scissors
  • Ruler or stick
  • Hanger & clothespins
  • Stove top pan
  • Metal screw or something for a weight on the end of the candle wick
  • (Optional) Crayons for coloring wax or candle dyes which are wax dyes for candle making

*You could purchase new wax at the craft store, but for this project I dug through my cabinets & pulled out old candles we don’t use any more. I happened to have green, red, & white candles that I chopped up for melting. If you only have white and you want colored candles, just throw in some old crayon bits in whatever colors you want during melting!

Keep in mind the different melted wax: paraffin wax, soy wax for soy candles in case allergies are involved.

Directions to make a Candle

Step 1 – Prepare the Candle Wax

Recycling old candles: Chop up your wax if you’re using old candles.  No need for precision here. Just cut and pare off pieces that are small enough so they can fit into the cans or jars. 

Using wax beads: Fill the jar/can with wax beads.

Two ways to use wax for candle making shown, on left chopped up old candles and on right the store bought wax beads
You can chop up old candles (left) or use store bought wax beads (right) to melt.

Step 2 – Get Wax Ready for Heating

Place soup cans in a large sauce pot (use 1 can for each color).  

If you are recycling old candle wax, fill cans 1/3 full of cool water.   It seems like wax & water would not work in the cans, but the wax floats as it melts & having water in the can makes the wax melt better.  

If you are using wax beads, follow the package directions, but usually no water is needed inside the jar.

melted beeswax for hand dipped candles - step 3
In step 3, we are melting the wax inside the jar inside the pot with water.

Step 3 – Melt Wax

  1. Fill sauce pan 1/2 full of water & turn heat on Low. It’s kind of like using a double boiler.
  2. Add candle wax to cans, & add crayons to white wax if you are using it.  
  3. Keep heat on Low and allow wax to melt completely.
immerse the candle into the jar of cold water - Kids Activities Blog
You will need a jar of cold water nearby so you can dip in the hot and then the cold.

Step 4 – Set Up Dipping Station

Prepare by covering counter with plenty of newspapers and fill extra soup can or other disposable container with cold water (we kept a few ice cubes handy to keep the water cool).    

Once your wax has completely melted, set up your dipping station.  

tie weights to the end of the candle wick to make hand dipped candles - kids activities blog
Tie weights on the bottom end of the wick to allow the candles to dip straighter.

Step 5 – Get Wicks Ready for Dipping

  1. Fold your 10″ wick in half, so you will make two candles at one time – we found draping it over a ruler helped make the process faster.
  2. Add weight to the bottom end to keep the wick straight during the dipping process. 

Step 6 – Dip the Candles to Build Wax Layers

Dipping diy candles is all about building layers, & you will alternate dipping your candle into the wax & cold water to set each layer.

Dip the wicks into wax, then into the can/cup of cold water.  

Candle dipping between hot wax and cold water creating layers within the candle
Dip the weighted wicks in the hot wax and then the cold water. Repeat over and over again.

Repeat this process many times, and continue to do so until your candles are as thick as you want them.  

repeat until the desired length is achieved for candle dipping - Kids Activities Blog
Keep repeating until candle is as big around as you want it to be.

We found that the thinner candles burned very quickly, and the big, fat candles would last a whole meal.

hang the hand dipped beeswax candles on to the inside of the cabinet to cool down - Kids Activities Blog
Hang the dipped candles to cool completely.

Step 7 – Hang the Dipped Candles to Cool

Drape the finished candle pair over a hanger & clip with a clothes pin so they stay in place or use an upper cabinet in the kitchen with something to secure the end inside.  Allow to cool completely.  

Step 8 – Trim the Wick

Snip the wick in half so that you now have two candles.

finished hand dipped candles - Kids Activities blog
Here is what our finished hand dipped candles looked like!

Displaying Finished Candles

Since our candles were lumpy on the bottom & uneven in size, they wouldn’t fit into candle holders. I took some votive holders & larger glass vases and  filled them with brown rice.  I stuck the candles into the rice & they stayed upright!

preschooler making candles at home by dipping wax into cans that sit in pan of water
This was my son’s favorite part of making candles.

These stick handles don’t have candle jars or candle containers. You can get cheap candle holders at the dollar tree or set them in mason jars or a small plate to avoid leftover wax everywhere when burning the candle. That way all the melted wax will set at the bottom of the container.

Our Experience Candle Making at Home

I loved this project because it’s fun for all ages, and no matter how long you dip, you will end up with functional candles! My son liked making the smaller candles, while I thought it was fun to see how thick I could make mine.

I like these a lot more than store-bought candles because it’s the easiest way to use natural waxes or use up old candles that may or may not have candle fragrance.

Plus, this method is a lot better than most candle-making kit which are not very creative most time and make an okay finished product.

What do I need to make candles at home?

  • Wax – There are a bunch of different waxes you can use to make candles. You’ve got options like paraffin wax, soy wax, beeswax and more.
  • Wicks – You will need wicks to provide the heat and energy needed to melt the wax and create the flame. There are several types of wicks available, and the right one for your candle will depend on the size and type of candle you are making.
  • Container – You will need a container to hold the melted wax and the wick. This can be a jar, a tin, a glass, or any other type of container that is appropriate for the size and shape of the candle you are making.
  • Double boiler or microwave-safe container – You will need a way to melt the wax. A double boiler is a good option, as it allows you to melt the wax slowly and gently. Alternatively, you can use a microwave-safe container to melt the wax in the microwave.
  • Essential oils – If you want to add scent to your candle, essential oils can be added with the fragrance of your choice.
  • Dye – If you want to add color to your candles, you can use liquid dye or powder dye. Or choose a wax with color.
  • Thermometer – A thermometer can be helpful for ensuring that the wax is at the right temperature when you pour it into the container.
  • Spoon – You will need something to stir the wax as it melts.
  • Scissors – Scissors work best for wick trimming!

What wax is best for making candles?

There are a few different waxes you can use to make candles.

  • Paraffin wax is cheap and easy to work with, but it’s not super eco-friendly.
  • Soy wax is made from soybean oil and is a more sustainable option, but it has a lower melting point, so it might not hold its shape as well in hot weather.
  • Beeswax is a natural wax made by bees and it’s a bit pricier, but it burns cleanly and has a long burn time.
  • Palm wax and coconut wax both have high melting points and are good for making pillars and votives. They also have a creamy, opaque appearance and a slow burn time.

Ultimately, it all comes down to your preferences and what type of candle you want to make. Just think about the burn time, fragrance, color, and environmental impact of each wax before deciding.

Is making candles at home really cheaper than buying candles?

If you are using old candles to recycle into new candles, then making candles at home is definitely cheaper than buying candles. If you are purchasing all the supplies from a craft store, then sometimes the cost will be similar to buying a candle. The good news is when you make candles at home, you can customize the size, smell and color you want.

How To Make Dipped Candles At Home With Kids

Homemade dipping candles hanging on a hook

Want to learn how to make dipped candles? Great! Kids of all ages, particularly older kids, and parents will love making their very own candles!

Materials

  • Wax*- can use wax beads or old candles chopped up
  • Candle wicks (purchased at craft store, costs about $2.50 for 15 ft), cut into 10″ lengths
  • Empty clean large soup cans or glass jars
  • Scissors
  • Ruler or stick
  • Hanger & clothespins
  • Stove top pan
  • Metal screw or something for a weight on the end of the candle wick
  • (Optional) Crayons for coloring wax or candle dyes which are wax dyes for candle making

Instructions

  1. Chop up your wax if you're using old candles. If using wax beans then fill the jar/can.
  2. Place soup cans in a large sauce pot. If recycled old wax fill cans with 1/3 cold water . If you're using wax beads follow the package directions.
  3. Melt wax. Fill sauce pan 1/2 full of water and turn on low heat. Add candle wax to cans and add crayons to white wax if you're using it. Keep heat on low and allow wax to melt completely.
  4. Set up dipping station. Prepare by covering counter and fill extra soup can with cold water.
  5. Get wicks ready for dipping. Folding your 10 inch wick in half so you will make 2 candles at one time. Add weight to the bottom of each end.
  6. Dip the candles to build wax layers. It's all about the layers and you will alternate dipping your candle in the wax and cold water.
  7. Repeat many times.
  8. Hand dipped candles to cool.
  9. Trim the wick.

More Fun Things to Do with Kids Inspired by Making Candles at Home

  • Explore candle making history in your town.  If you are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, check out all the candle dipping fun at Log Cabin Village.
  • We have a huge collection of fall activities for kids that pair nicely with homemade dipped candles!
  • Here are some super cute Thanksgiving craft ideas that the entire family can enjoy.
  • We explore how to make wax melts for a different kind of “candle” experience.
  • For jar candles, follow along to make a mod podge mason jar.
  • And if dipping is a little too complicated, try candle rolling — this is good candle making activity even for the youngest crafters.

How did making your own candles turn out? Where you surprised to see how fun and easy it was to make candles at home?

7 Comments

  1. Aluminum Fool says:

    How long does it take to dip the candles?

  2. Thanks for this gonna try it soon with my very small class of special needs students. We’re studying colonial America.

  3. Kristen Yard says:

    Have fun! I did this during a colonial unit when I was in school and it was such a blast that I can STILL remember that day clearly!

  4. Grace Wofford 11 +Anna Wofford 9 says:

    Me and my sister are trying to make are room look old fashioned so we got some old fashioned candle holders and now we want to make home made candles to put in them

  5. Kristen Yard says:

    What a cool craft idea!!!

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