Have you ever seen an ice candle before? Talk about gorgeous! Once made, they have beautiful configurations and textures that are stunning even without being lit. These are candles that can be a fun family project to do together and are fairly easy to make! Read further for a step-by-step tutorial on one way to make ice candles (with a huge shout out to Jessica Begum’s eHow article on How To Make Ice Candles!).
Here’s what you need to make ice candles:
- Cardboard Container (I prefer the 64oz orange juice containers)
- Cooking spray (not needed if using the OJ container)
- Taper candle
- 1-2lb of wax
- Partially used candles (optional)
- Pouring pot (or similar container to melt your wax)
- Stirring spoon
- Thermometer (optional, but preferable)
- Candle dye (optional)
- Candle fragrance (optional)
- Ice (crushed ice works best, but vary the size for interesting patterns)
- Bowl or other container to catch water
- Towel to allow your candle to dry
Step 1: Prepare your container
You can choose from a variety of carboard containers to make your candle. Be creative! Some examples would be milk cartons, orange juice cartons, old salt containers. Cut the top off your empty container. Clean it out and then spray it with cooking oil (this is so your end product doesn’t stick). If you use something like a milk carton or orange juice container, they already have a waxy coating on them, so you don’t need to spray them with cooking oil.
Step 2: Prepare your taper candle
Stick your taper candle down into your carton to see how long you need your taper candle to be. You want the wick sticking out just above your finished ice candle, so you may need to trim your taper candle just a bit. If your taper is too long, you can start cutting it off at the bottom. Keep checking the length after each cut, because you don’t want to make it too short. Also, consider shaving the top end of the candle a little to have more access to your wick. You want the wick to extend about 1/4″ above the ice candle.
Step 3: Melt your wax
How much wax you will need depends on the size of your container. For a 64oz orange juice container, you will need approximately 2 pounds of wax. You can purchase 1lb blocks of Gulf Wax paraffin wax from craft stores, WalMart, or similar places. You can also purchase soy candle flakes use beeswax if you’d prefer. There are a number of ways to melt your wax, but just remember to never melt wax over direct heat. I prefer to use a candle pouring pot. Cut your unmelted wax into manageable pieces and place them in the pouring pot. Fill a pan with water (1/3 of the way full is best – you don’t want it to spill out when you put in your pouring pot) and place it on the stove on low heat. Put your pouring pot in this pan of water and wait for your wax to melt. Stir gently as it melts. Having a thermometer available is a huge plus. Wax getting too hot is a fire hazard, and for this project you don’t need your wax hotter than about 185 degrees. Don’t leave your melting wax unattended!
If you have partially used candles that you’d like to use for this project, melt that wax in your usual fashion and use that melted wax for your project. If you don’t have enough from old candles, you can still use that melted wax and pour it into your pouring pot to mix scents and colors.
Step 4: Add color and scent, if desired
This step is completely optional. If you want something other than white color, you can add candle dye at this point to your melted wax. You can get candle dye from craft stores or online. I’ve seen some tutorial that have added shavings of melted crayons. You can also add your fragrance oil at this time. One of the neatest ways I’ve found to add scent is to melt up some of those partially used candles and add that additional wax to your melted wax.
Step 5: Put ice into your container
Now you’re ready to start adding ice to your cleaned out container. Put your taper candle in the middle of your container and begin filling up your container with ice. It’s easiest to do if you have someone hold the taper candle while you add the ice. If you need to secure the taper, pour a little bit of your melted wax in the bottom of the container and then set your taper candle down inside. Hold it in place until the melted wax hardens. Then you can start filling up with ice. Fill the container up but don’t jam pack the ice in there.
Experiment with the size of ice chunks you want. Try not to make them too small, because then they just melt too quickly and you won’t get your pretty lacy effect. If they are too big, you will have huge craters in your candles that you might not like. It takes a little trial and error to decide just what you’d like, but that’s the beauty of this project – no two candles really ever turn out the same!
Step 6: Pour melted wax into your container
Set your ice filled container into a bowl to catch water. Retrieve your melted wax (careful – it’s hot!) and start pouring it into your container full of ice. Don’t pour in one spot…you’ll want to move around as you’re pouring the wax out of your pour pot. Fill your container up, but try not to cover the wick. You can dig it out later, but it’s just a little more trouble.
Step 7: Go read a book
Or start cleaning up, watch TV, take a well-deserved nap. The wax will need time to harden and you don’t want to start messing with your candle, as tempting as it might be. Ice candles are beautiful but delicate. Wait at least an hour for your wax to harden.
Step 8: Relieve some of the water
You can tell areas on the outside of your candle that have water just waiting to come out – those areas will be softer and cooler than other areas. Poke holes in those spots – small holes. We’re only wanting the water to drain out. This step is optional, but I find it easier to let as much water drain out before I’m ready to unmold.
Step 9: Unmold your candle
Now pick up your container candle and press down gently on the top as you pour out any excess water. There should not too much because we’ve already relieved some of the water present (Step 8). Pour the water into your bowl or down the sink. (If down the sink, be sure to use a strainer to catch pieces of wax.) You can start peeling away the container to reveal your beautiful candle. Hold it over the sink or your bowl as you unmold it, because it will still leak some water.
Step 10: Let it dry
Set the candle on a towel, cookie sheet, or back into a (dry) bowl. You’ll need to let the ice candle dry completely before using it – at least 24 hours.
There you have it! You just made a cool ice candle. Be sure to burn these on some type of stand or dish that will catch the water as it burns. There are a number of variations and other creative things you can do with this project – varying colors, shapes, layers, etc. Just have fun and experiment!
Have you ever made an ice candle? What are your tips and tricks?
Happy candle burning ~