How to Make Soy Candles

This easy DIY project produces candles that are better for the environment.

hands hold diy soy candle with lavender

 Treehugger / Lesly Junieth

They set a mood, warm up a room, and just look pretty on a shelf. But many types of candles also have a dark history. For vegans, the fact that they’re made from animal byproducts like beeswax and tallow is troublesome. Furthermore, if candles are made from paraffin, a petroleum-based product, they often emit soot.

For those who prefer an all-natural golden glow from their candles, there is another option. Soy candles don’t give off soot. They last longer than candles made from animal products and burn in a way that reduces the amount of unburned wax on the side of the jar. They're just as beautiful as paraffin candles and are easy to make by hand with basic tools and just a few ingredients. That's why they make wonderful homemade gifts.

diy soy candles with string and lavender
Treehugger / Lesly Junieth

For your friend whose apartment looks like it could be in the pages of Dwell magazine or Martha Stewart Living, consider making a natural soy candle. You can tailor the soy candle to suit their style—be it a candle scented with lavender, or a candle housed in a reclaimed teacup, or a simple white candle in an old Mason jar. Your friend will feel good turning off the lights and lighting a homemade candle that isn’t harmful to the environment, and you’ll get to flex your creative muscles without spending too much time or money.

Basic Supplies for Making Soy Candles

  • 2 cups soy wax flakes for container candles (available at your local craft supply store)
  • Glass bowl
  • Saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Candy thermometer
  • Fragrance oils and/or essential oils (lavender, vanilla, ginger, nutmeg, etc.)
  • Wick sized to fit container
  • Glass jar or other container
  • Clothespin
  • Scissors

Optional Supplies for Making Homemade Soy Candles

  • Wick holder
  • Candle putty

Instructions for Making Soy Candles

melting wax in hot water on stove
Treehugger / Lesly Junieth

1. Melt the wax. Place soy wax flakes in a glass bowl, and place the bowl on a saucepan about a third full of water, creating a double boiler. (You might want to designate a bowl for this specific purpose, as it may be difficult to clean afterward.) Heat the wax, stirring occasionally, until it is soft and pourable. You will have 1 cup of melted wax per 2 cups of soy wax flakes. You can also heat the wax in the microwave, at one-minute intervals until melted. At the same time, consider preheating the glass jar that will hold the candle so the wax doesn't pull away from the sides.

adding essential oils to melted soy
Treehugger / Lesly Junieth

2. Add the fragrance. Let the wax cool (the temperature of the wax should be about 120 degrees) and then add whatever form of fragrance you're using. Do not continue heating the mixture after fragrance has been added; that will cause the scent to evaporate out of the wax.

Fragrance oils are different from essential oils. Because they're synthetic, they smell much stronger and are typically used at a ratio of 1 ounce fragrance oil to 1 pound of wax. Natural essential oils can be used, too, though you will have to play around to find the right scent strength. Amounts vary from 50-100 drops per pound of wax, and remember that the scent will be milder once the candle has solidified. You can also practice mixing scents.

setting wick in hot wax
Treehugger / Lesly Junieth

3. Place the wick in the container. Spoon a small amount of wax onto the center of the bottom of the container. Dangle the wick into the container until it touches the wax, making sure you have enough wick at the top to hang over the end of the container. (You can also purchase wick holders and candle putty at a craft store to secure the wick at the bottom; simply follow the directions on the packaging.) Hold the wick in place until the wax hardens; then pinch the top end of the wick with a clothespin and set the pin across the top of the container, keeping the wick centered and upright.

Alternatively, dab the bottom of the wick with superglue or hot glue and hold for a moment until the wick is fixed in place. If your container is shallow with a wide diameter, you might consider placing two or three wicks in it for a more even burn and better light.

pouring hot wax into glass jar with wick holder
Treehugger / Lesly Junieth

4. Pour the wax. Stir the wax so that it is smooth and then slowly pour it into the container. Leave some room at the top. If you have leftover wax, let it harden and then save it in a container for later use.

cutting the wick with scissors
Treehugger / Lesly Junieth

5. Let the wax harden overnight. The next day, trim the wick to 1/4 inch (and whenever you burn it). Your soy candle is complete!

lavender candle with string bow
Treehugger / Lesly Junieth

Embellish your candle jar with a simple ribbon or piece of yarn tied around the neck. If you have a vintage matchstick box or an empty matchbook from a place that is special to you and your friend, create a tag out of it for a personal effect. Then give and glow!