How to Make Pillar Candles

Alexander M

Here's the official Waxing Moonshine step by step guide to making beeswax pillar candles. Feel free to ask me if you have any questions. I make beeswax candles, mostly, but this same technique should work well for soy wax, palm wax, and other waxes as well I'm sure. 

Stuff You'll Need 

Click the links above to find the supplies we've got in our shop. For a double boiler, you can use any pot that will fit a Pyrex bowl sitting in a water bath or just pick up some old pots from a thrift store for a dedicated beeswax candle making set.

Gently melt your wax down in a double boiler - do not heat your beeswax in a pot directly over a flame as this is kinda dangerous. Beeswax is combustible (that's why it makes good candles) and you could end up with a major fire. So use a double boiler! You can get all fancy with a thermometer, but I just slowly heat it till the wax has just melted (high heat can easily damage beeswax) and then I turn the flame down low enough to prevent solidification (if the wax begins to solidify on top, just turn up the flame a bit and give it a stir). 

It can take a while to slowly melt down chunky beeswax - smaller pieces melt faster and stirring it up will help as well. 

The Setup

As you wait for your wax to melt, get your pour area all set up. String your cotton wick through your pillar mold and hold it tight with a generous dose of sealing putty on the bottom (which will be the top of the candle) and your wick centering device on the top (which will be the bottom of the candle). When using beeswax, I like to use #5 cotton square wick for 3" round pillars - but I do like a large flame and a candle that does not tunnel, so a #4 square braid wick may also do for a 3" pillar. But if your beeswax is particularly dark and unfiltered, it's possible you'll need a #6. If you find that the wick hole on your mold is too small to get your fat wick through (as I often do), aluminum is a rather soft metal and you can easily widen the hole a bit using an awl or phillips head screwdriver, light pressure, and a twisting motion. 

I don't prime my wicks (pre wax them), though many other candle makers do. I've done it in the past and simply don't see a real need for this step. See notes at the end for more info on this. 

Have your set up on a large wax sheet, parchment paper, or some tinfoil to catch any spillage. 

The Pour

Now once you've got your wax fully melted and ready to pour, lightly but fully spray the inside of your aluminum mold with some natural cooking oil spray. I use coconut oil spray from Trader Joe's, but any oil should do. It's important to do this right before you pour your wax as the oil will quickly slide down the sides and pool at the bottom if you diddle daddle too long. Lightly coating with your finger will also do if you don't have a spray oil. 

 

You can also just buy some mold release spray for candles, but who knows what kind of crap they're made of, and if you're into the whole natural thing, like us, oil will work. 

Pour your hot wax into the mold right after coating the mold with oil, and fill to about 1/4 inch less/lower than you want your total height to be. Wait for the wax to cool and form a thin layer of hardened beeswax over the top (what will be the bottom - let the wax form a full or nearly full layer over the top - but don't let it get too thick!) of your candle, and then, using a chopstick or something similar, poke two holes, one on each side of the wick, about midway from the wick to the edge of your mold. Make these holes at least a couple of inches deep and don't bump your wick - cavities tend to form here and these holes will allow you to fill the cavities up with beeswax.  

Finally pour a small amount of your melted wax into the holes, filling them up and covering your previously solidified wax with another 1/4 inch or so of fresh wax. 

Getting Your Candle Out

Now I just let the candle fully cool and set overnight at room temp (cooling too quickly may cause cracking), and come morning, I toss the whole thing into the freezer for 15 minutes and then once it's nice and cold I give it a good whack against the palm of my hand (or the kitchen counter, if need be) to jostle that candle loose, and then voila - you've got something too beautiful to burn.

You may have to stick the whole thing back in the freezer for another round of freeze and smack if it doesn't come out the first time.

Final Bits 

Lastly, but perhaps not leastly, I find my candle burn best when I allow them to simply sit and set for a week or two before burning. If I burn them too early, they tend to tunnel. When burning your candle for the first time, allow it to burn long enough for the wax pool to reach the edge, or nearly the edge of your candle - this may take an hour per inch of width, or more, for beeswax. 

I also suggest:

  Always lighting your candle at the base of the wick to help get the wax melt started

  Trim your wick to about 1/4 inch between burns

  Using your candle in a draft-free environment (for the best burn)

  Keep something under your candle to catch any spillage - candles can get messy!

To Prime or not to Prime - the main difference I see between the two options is with the very first light of a fresh candle - it's a bit easier for the candle to light up, this first time, with a primed wick. That being said, I don't find it difficult to light an unprimed wick on a new candle, and it's always a good idea to light/relight candles at the base of the wick, to help get the wax melted from the get go.

To prime your wicking, simply melt down some wax and submerge the wick in the wax until it seems well saturated (this should just take a few moments) - jiggle it around if need be. Then straighten and lay the wick on some parchment paper or tin foil or something similar and let it cool (again, this shouldn't take long) and it's primed!

 

the pillar candle is out of the aluminum mold

I don't always check the comments left here, but feel free to contact me if you have any questions,

Alexander - alexander@waxingmoonshine.com



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