Candle Making Tips, Tricks, and Troubleshooting

I have been making candles since the 1970s. My website has information that you will not find anywhere else. I can give you tips for the beginner candlemaker through to the advanced candle maker. I can also pass on my experience as an owner of a handmade candle store owner.

There is always something to learn, even for me. When I started making candles, wax blends that are on the market today did not exist.

I can tell when I watch a video or read an article if someone has experience candle making. Burnt crayons stink. Don’t use things not meant for candle making.

I am also an avid supporter of the crafting community and believe that we should support each other when we can.

All candles require testing. I have included affiliate links to help you in your candle-making journey. We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post via affiliate links to products or services associated with content in this article.

Candle testing should be done for each combination of vessel and fragrance. Testing verifies the correct wick size.

Periodic testing should be done to make sure nothing changed. Sometimes supplies change sources and the products change.

Take notes as you go. Keep a journal.

Do not use glass for measuring if it’s cold. It takes energy to heat it and takes the heat from your wax. Avoid it in a colder climate anyway.

Heating 100 or more jars in the oven does not work. If you need to pour that many candles make sure the room is WARM or put an electric blank on your table with a table cloth over it. Keep them, babies, warm.

If you are struggling with soy wax, switch to IGI 6006 soy blend. It is a good beginner wax.

Pour your candles in the jar boxes they came in if you can. This will insulate them.

“Tent” your candles to keep them warm to slow the cooling process but don’t let them build up condensation.

My best pouring pitchers are the white plastic $1 cheap ones from Dollar Tree. (and other stuff)

Wicks that slouch also slide. Make sure they stand up straight and centered.

The cheapest wick centering tools are wooden sticks with holes drilled in the center. I have 1000. These little things will limit how many candles you can make at one time.

I bought 6-foot folding tables. They hold 150 candles comfortably. As I pour, I set up another table and work my way across the room. You can also stack a few trays high and still work. This is good for small rooms.

I put bed lifts under my tables so that my back doesn’t hurt at the end of the day. I also have foam mats for my feet. You cannot work if you are hurt.

I now use a 22-quart roaster to make a 45-pound case of wax with 5 pounds of fragrance as my batch sizes. That makes about 115 candles at one time. That’s not a tip, but I am proud. If I can do it so can you!

GB 464 is water-soluble and cleans up with warm soapy water but wipe out your pitchers first with a paper towel or pour excess into a paper towel. Any plumbing can still get overwhelmed. Rinse well. Soap residue does not mix well with candles.

Fragrance oils sometimes leave a residue that can be cleaned up with alcohol or Clorox wipes.

Use a skewer against the opening of a bottle to prevent drips. The liquid will follow the skewer.

The cost of your candle is the cost of material total marked up about 20%. Take your total cost and divide it by .8, which includes your overhead. Take that number and multiple it by 2 for selling wholesale and multiply it by 3 for retail. That is the easiest way to calculate the price of your candle.

Never take a wholesale order smaller than 1 batch. My batch size is 115 candles. That is my minimum order for wholesale for 1 fragrance. The price break starts on batch 2. To get 10% off you must order a minimum of 225 candles wholesale. Wholesale is already a discount.

Price your candle according to what you are worth not someone’s budget.

Make what you like, that you can be proud of.

To get into the craft shows search for events on Facebook and go to one. Talk to the coordinator in person. Get their contact information and give them yours. Often they have a waiting list or will call if they have a spot open up. They often manage more than one event.

Candle tins are lighter and cheaper to ship. They are also less fragile than glass. Consider that when picking vessels.

Calculating wax and fragrance is tricky. See my resource page for help. ⇒ Click Here

A hot glue tool works better than wick stickers. Wick stickers are famous for coming loose. RTV glue holds better and so does E6000, but it has to dry overnight.

Most candle tops can be smoothed with a heat tool. Using soy wax has many issues.

Wood wicks are less likely to clog so if you must, only add a pinch of mica, and test these.

Do not add things to your candles that are not meant for candles. Things like vanilla extract will not give a hot throw.

If you have received a case of candle wax that has moisture in the bag, open the bag up and let it air dry for 24-48 hours. You may need to pour the flakes out onto baking sheets to let the water evaporate if there is a lot. This happens sometimes shipping in the summer.

Sometimes crystals or chunks form in the bottom of fragrance oils that are high in vanillins. Place the bottle of fragrance oil in warm water and shake or stir until the crystals dissolve.

Candle making is done by weighing the ingredients. Not all fragrances are the same volume. If you measure by volume you may have issues with your hot throw.

The candle’s melt pool is determined by the wick size in relation to the diameter of the vessel. If the melt pool is too small the wick is too small. This is called tunneling.

The opposite is true. If the candle’s melt pool is too deep or the flame too high, the wick is too big.

If the fragrance oil sinks to the bottom, you used too much. Take a skewer and pierce it down the side so you can drain the candle and save it.

Wax expands when it’s heated and contracts as it cools. If you pour too hot it will shrink leaving sinkholes around the wick. Pour at a cooler temperature or follow up with a heat tool.

If the flame flickers or flutters, you may have water in the wax from the double boiler. If the wax has a higher moisture content, try a bigger wick.

Adding fragrance oil to candle wax above the flashpoint will not make it combust. Flashpoint is used for making gel candles and shipping information.

However, I have noticed a relationship between the performance of fragrance hot throw and the temperature added below flashpoints.

Best Candle Making Tips and Trouble Shooting Guide

When you have made enough candles, something is going to go wrong and leave you scratching your head.

I am going to help you through the candle-making problems and fixes!

Once you understand what causes the problems in candle making you can head them off or at least fix them.

I work primarily with soy wax but I will try others and update this article to give you the best that I can find. Soy wax is a soft vegetable wax. It can make an amazing candle but can also be very temperamental.

Most manufacturers give you basic instructions and then leave you with a cliffhanger! Some of their websites have some information on them but not much. We are going to break it down!

Root Cause of Most Candle Making Issues

Understanding that it is the rate of temperature change that causes most problems is the key. Soy wax needs to cool at an even rate. If you are adding cold fragrance oil to hot soy wax it is like adding ice cubes to your drink. The temperature is going to drop fast!

What happens is your wax may be fluctuating at a temperature between 175-185, you are working on candles in a chilly room, when you mix in your fragrance oil it is probably sitting at room temperature at about 65-70. Suddenly, your candle wax is shocked into a 140-150 temperature.

When adding fragrance, the mixture must be brought back up to the recommended temperature of the wax or the flashpoint of the fragrance oil whichever is the lowest.

For example, GB 464 is recommended that the wax is melted to 185 degrees Fahrenheit.

I will be added Lavender fragrance oil with a flashpoint of 180 degrees.

I will heat the wax to 185 degrees and let it cool to below 180 to about 175 before adding the fragrance oil.

If adding the fragrance oil drops the temperature (because it is cold) I will heat it until it reaches at least 175 before I remove it and let it cool.

Not doing this does not allow the wax enough time to bond while it has expanded. It can make your candle look terrible as the fragrance does not mix with the wax. It is often the culprit of ugly candles.

If you pay attention, you will find that making candles in the summer is easier than making them in the winter.

The goal is to control the temperature of the wax, fragrance, and equipment as much as you can. And by equipment, I mean anything that you use to make candles including the candle jars or vessels.

In the beginning, I used a double boiler and pot of water with a melting pitcher. This worked well because I could put the pitcher back on the heat to get the temperature I wanted.

As I scaled my business and needed a faster way to make more candles, I switched to a 5-quart roaster. I ladled wax into large glass measuring cups, 32 ounces, and mixed in fragrance oil based on what orders I had. That was a huge mistake!

My wax cooled too fast and I had no way to bring it back to room temperature other than using a microwave. If was so inconsistent and such a mess, I wanted to quit. I couldn’t keep up with orders and my candles turned into a mess.

Here is what I learned from Candle Making

No matter what wick I try, it keeps tunneling.

I have found that once your candle container diameter gets to be about 3.5”, you will have to go to multiple wicks.

Not all wicks are created equal. Try a different style wick like changing from a CD to an HTP or vice versa.

Sometimes we extinguish a wick before a full melt pool has established and on the next burn the wax directly around the wick burns off before the outside. This pool of wax has already started to break down from the heat of the flame and will burn off faster than the rim starting a tunneling effect.

Learn more about what wick to use for your candles ⇒ Click Here

The top of my candle looks oily.

This could be from adding too much fragrance oil. If you followed the ratio from the manufacturer it may be something else.

The wax was not hot enough when you added the fragrance. To enable the fragrance to chemically bond with the wax, the wax needs to expand. This is done through heat. Sometimes with certain fragrances, this will happen if you added the fragrance at around 150-160 degrees. This is a common problem so it needs a little more attention. See the root cause.

My candle has wet spots that keep coming back.

Soy wax does not always adhere to glass. You can fix this with a heat gun or hairdryer, but there is no guarantee. It is the nature of the wax.

My wax has craters and looks bumpy on top.

The candle may have been poured too cold and the air was trapped when the wax congealed as it cooled. Some fragrances like florals cause the wax to look like rice and may need to stay at a hotter temperature for a longer time to bond well. You will have to do more testing if you find that a specific fragrance has this problem.

My candle has a sinkhole.

The candle may have been poured while the wax was still too hot. Try pouring at a lower temperature. Harder waxes such as a blend have this common problem.

The top of my candle looks like it bubbled and volcanoes.

Water can get into the wax and create problems. Sometimes this happens when it is humid as well. It is possible to get a bad batch of soy wax. Try heating the wax to 185 for about 15-20 minutes to reduce moisture. If it is an issue with many of your candles, contact the supplier.

My candle has a good cold throw but not a hot throw.

Softer soy wax as GB 464 can hold up to 12% fragrance load, but around 10% should smell good. That is about 1.5 ounces for every pound of wax by weight. (see resource page) You may not have added enough. Harder waxes as a soy blend with paraffin in a 70/30 mix will not hold as much, but some say the hot throw is better. You can add about 3-6 teaspoons of stearic acid per pound to help the candle smell stronger and burn longer. Adding too much can ruin the candle. I have also heard adding 1 tablespoon of coconut oil per pound helps.

I am making gel candles and I get a lot of bubbles.

Heat the candles until the bubbles float up to the top. Gel candles cool faster than soy wax and the bubbles get trapped. I put the candle in the oven on a cookie sheet set at 200 degrees until the bubbles are gone. Watch it very carefully! Gel candles are very flammable.

I dipped the decorations in gel wax before I put them in the candles to get rid of or trap the bubbles. This will help stop the air from bubbling up your candle so much and make it clear.

My soy candle is sweating.

This happens when too much fragrance oil is added or more commonly when soy candles experience extreme temperature changes. Use a heat gun on the top of the candle until the wax melts and the fragrance is absorbed back into the wax. Sometimes letting the candles sit for a few days will allow the wax to absorb the fragrance. Sometimes the wax releases fragrance oil when exposed to ambient heat such as sunlight.

My candle has lines going up the side.

This is called chattering. This happens with the glass jar is cold and the wax cools quickly as the candle is being poured. Try heating your jars before pouring. This can be fixed with a heat gun.

My candle is smoking.

This happens when the wick is too big. Sometimes we can use a wick that is just one size smaller and get a good result without smoking. Sometimes this does not happen until halfway through the candle. It is important to test burn a candle and burn completely to see how the wick responds near the bottom.

My candle looks like cauliflower.

Sometimes this happens if the humidity is very high. It is hard to save a candle like this but try putting them in an oven at 150 degrees until the wax is clear for about 15-20 minutes. Watch carefully. You may have a bad batch of wax, sorry.

My fragrance sinks to the bottom of my candle.

This is a sign that there is too much fragrance added or it did not bind well when mixed. The fragrance may have been added when the wax was not hot enough or the temperature of the fragrance and wax was too different. (shock)

Bramble Berry has a wonderful video explaining candlemaking

Sharron Gimik
Sharron Gimik

Sharron loves crafts of all kinds and is a candle maker. She loves to bake and collect decorative cake pans.

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