Packaging and delivering to your customer is the first impression of your candle and the final cost of your product. Packaging for your candles is as important as testing the performance of your candles.
The key to packaging candles for shipping is to minimize movement and create a buffer within the box. Test packs should be made for each style of a candle with a combination of quantities, sizes, weights, and destinations. Use bubble wrap and packaging peanuts to encapsulate the candle within a box. The test packs will determine the best method to package and cost to ship candles.
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For many years, I sold candles at craft shows and markets using glass containers. As I started selling online I realized that switching to tin made more sense. The tin candles are lighter and not as fragile as glass.
Glass candles weigh more than tin candles and consequently cost more to ship. They are packaged about the same. The difference is the risk of damage. Usually, the cost to ship candles starts with the weight, then the size, and finally the distance.
How to Ship Candles
These are the essential items you need to ship homemade candles from home.
- Shipping boxes
- Shipping tape
- Bubble wrap
- Shipping scale
- Shipping labels
- Access to shipping websites
- Ability to purchase postage (fee)
- Alternatively access to Post Office, UPS Store, or FedEx
First, protect the candle by wrapping in bubble wrap at least 1 inch thick around the entire candle. Do this for each candle. Do not nest them together. The vibration will break the glass.
If you are packing several candles, cell packs (dividers) will help to keep them from bumping into each other during their trip.
Second, select a box that is about the same size as the wrapped candle. Choose a box that will be a snug fit. The candles should not move around the box when you shake it. Fill the voids or spaces with packing peanuts, pieces of bubble wrap, or paper.
Bubble wrap provides a better cushion than paper without adding weight like paper. You want to do this step and still look professional. Don’t sacrifice the candle presentation to reduce the cost of packaging.
An alternative to plastic would be shredded crinkle paper that looks like easter grass. Create a nest for the candle with a material that can be composted or recycled. I caution with this as some of my customers complained about the mess.
Single candles can be shipped in flat rate envelopes through the US Post Office as long as the box fits inside. I have also seen candles packed with cardboard wrapped around the bubble wrap and then secured in a Tyvek (priority mail) envelope but that seems risky to me.
Third, secure the box with packaging tape on both ends. Do not use regular scotch tape or masking tape. It will not hold and if the box comes apart, the candles will fall out.
How much does it cost to ship candles and how can I ship candles cheaper?
The first time I shipped a candle I was shocked! My jelly jar candles hold 7.5 ounces of wax but weigh 14 ounces including the jar. The final cost to ship a candle also includes the packaging.
- Rule 1: weight
- Rule 2: size
- Rule 3: distance
First-Class is the cheapest way to ship a candle. However, to ship first class, the package must weigh less than 1 pound.
First-Class packages for your candles cannot be mailed in the free priority or flat rate packaging boxes that are provided from the post office. You will have to provide the boxes (poly bags) at your cost.
One way to reduce the cost of shipping candles is to use tin containers instead of glass jars. A jelly jar weighs about 7 ounces, empty.
A tin the same size weighs about 1 ounce, empty. This can be a difficult decision to make as your branding relies on the candle vessel you choose.
It is a personal choice, but keep in mind, the price also plays a role in a customer’s decision to purchase.
In general, shipping tin candles is about half the cost and is easier to meet the First-Class USPS shipping requirement.
For packages over 1 pound, I ship priority mail. The USPS determines the cost by weight, size, and then distance. Unlike first-class which is a postal service, priority mail can be provided by services such as Pirate Ship.
They will ship your candles based on the size of your box. The smallest box they allow is 6” x 6” x 6”. They have negotiated a discounted rate and can save you money by going through them. If you have a package that weighs a little over a pound, this may be a cheaper way.
Flat Rate Boxes allow you to ship heavier or further for a set cost. A medium flat rate box can hold several heavier candles shipping across the country sometimes cheaper than priority mail.
This is the distance factor. If I need to ship a candle from Michigan to Kentucky it may cost around $8. The same box shipping from Michigan to California could cost $14.
A huge advantage to shipping candles through US Mail is that the boxes are free and can be ordered online at usps.com by creating an account. They deliver to your address.
The shipping material provided by the US Postal Service cannot be used for other carriers even though UPS will take almost any secure box.
Alternate shipping providers are FedEx and United Parcel Service (UPS). Sometimes heavier packages, over 3 pounds as an example, that will not fit in a flat rate, ship cheaper through UPS.
Test packaging for candles is like testing your candle jars with what wick works best.
You will not know unless you test. To look up the cost for any combination go to the shipping service website and set up a package to ship.
This will give you the best rates and then compare them. Each service has a ton of information on its websites to help you through.
Another reason to use USPS is they provide free shipping envelopes and boxes to ship flat rate or priority mail. The cost of your candles has to include the packaging cost as well as the shipping cost. It all adds up.
Another factor for selling candles online is the mindset of the consumer. Some people will purchase a candle if it includes free shipping whereas they will pass if they think the shipping is too high.
Someone has to pay for the shipping. It is important to know what that cost is if it is included in your price. USPS increases the price about twice a year. So, consider reviewing your pricing too.
How to ship candles that are not in containers or pillar candles
Many of us make pillar candles and they need to be protected just like candles made in glass vessels. They will break just as easily as the glass. They should first be wrapped in a poly wrapper (shrink wrapped) to protect the candle before it’s wrapped in bubble wrap.
I also do not wrap it on paper. Paper will draw the fragrance from the candle over time and is not something I use with anything I make that has fragrance oil (or essential oil). It also could stick to an unwrapped candle making a mess.
How to ship candles in the heat so they don’t melt
Most of the time the bubble wrap serves as an insulator for the candle. Use an expedited service so that the package is not sitting for days in a truck or staging center too long.
Do not freeze candles.
Freezing makes wax brittle and more likely to crack. They will not stay frozen long enough to make a difference. Add special packaging cold packs that are designed for this.
When it is extremely hot, I have also lined boxes with Styrofoam as an added insulator. They also make insulated packaging material. This can drive up the packaging cost. Some people will not risk shipping candles during the summer months, especially in our southern states.
Shipping candles outside of the lower United States or Overseas.
I do not. The cost is just not worth it.
Shipping from Etsy, Poshmark, Macari, or eBay
Services such as Etsy may charge a commission but can offer a discounted shipping rate to offset the cost to ship heavy candles. It is worth the investigation to calculate the overall cost of your candles using a platform that provides a cheaper shipping service through flat-rate pricing. The actual packaging material cost to you would be the same. The savings would be in the shipping cost.