Everyone assumes we must hate our brutal Wyoming winters.
But I don’t. (Well, not most of the time at least.)
Starting in October, I implement our winter evening ritual, which makes me ridiculously happy and makes these long, dark winters much more tolerable–especially on the evenings when the wind howls and the snow hits the windows like gravel.
After putting the kitchen to bed for the evening with an empty sink and freshly-wiped counters, I make a sweep through the living room. The pillows are fluffed and the throws rearranged, while Christian packs the stove with enough wood to last through the night. Then lastly, I light a candle right before I settle into a good book or our latest Netflix binge. It’s the very best time of day.
Why I Don’t Burn (Most) Candles
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with candles over the years, and got rid of most of my candles years ago after I discovered how toxic it can be to burn paraffin, which is actually a petroleum by-product. Paraffin candles release a number of chemicals (some of them are known carcinogens) into the air, can greatly reduce your indoor air quality and even cause headaches, dizziness, or asthma attacks. Not to mention, lead-based wicks used to be a huge concern before they were banned in 2003. So if you have a collection of older candles with wicks of questionable origin, it’s probably best to avoid burning them altogether.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever burn a candle again– there ARE safer alternatives such as beeswax, soy wax, and even tallow.
Yup, you read that right– a slow cooker!
DIY Soy Candles Video Tutorial
The Benefit of Making Candles in a Slow Cooker
Let me just say– if you hate doing dishes, especially impossible-to-clean waxy dishes, this is the candle making method for you.
I used to melt my candle wax (whether it was soy, beeswax, or tallow) in a separate pot before pouring it into my candle jars or containers. That works, but it leaves a residue in the pot that’s miserable to remove.
These slow cooker candles allow you to melt the wax right in the jars, which makes clean-up a breeze. However, if you don’t have a slow cooker or rather would not use yours for this, you can also just place the wax-filled jars in a small saucepan filled with several inches of water and heat it on your stovetop. The results will be the same– quick melting and minimal clean-up.
Making Soy Candles with Essential Oils
Would you be surprised to hear this essential oil fanatic say that essential oils aren’t the best candle making ingredients?
Well, there. I said it.
Essential oils (yes, even the very best, most pure ones) just aren’t strong enough to give a candle that ultra-strong scent that most of us are accustomed too. If you do decide to use essential oils, expect to use a LOT– even for very mildly-scented candles. (As in 80 drops per jar…)
Therefore, if you want a SUPER smelly candle, it’s probably best to stick with fragrance oils designed for candle making (although I can’t vouch for any personally).
So here’s my best advice: Either skip the essential oils in your candles altogether, or be content with a much milder candle.
And then if you want a naturally-scented house, use an essential oil diffuser instead. A diffuser will use FAR less essential oil and give the room a much stronger scent. I actually much prefer using essential oils to scent my home (versus relying on candles to do that), as they also provide therapeutic benefits at the same time. (These are the essential oils I love the most, by the way.)
That being said, if you still want to add essential oils to your candles, I’ve included some of my favorite combos below.
How to Make Soy Candles in a Slow Cooker
You Will Need:
- Soy wax – about 6-7 ounces per half-pint jar (I got this soy wax on Amazon (affiliate link))
- Wicks (I got these from Amazon (affiliate link))
- Essential oils (these ones are my fav)
- Small mason jars (half-pint or smaller) or non-porous repurposed containers
- A slow cooker
Fill the slow cooker with 2 to 3 inches of hot water.
Fill your containers or jars completely full with wax, then place them in the slow cooker with the lid on.
It takes about 1.5-2 hours for my slow cooker to completely melt all the wax, but yours might be slightly faster or slower, depending on the model. The good news? You don’t have to babysit the cooker at all– just walk away and come back to check when you think of it.
Best Essential Oil Combos for Candles
- Bergamot + Patchouli
- Clove + Cassia + Siberian Fir
- Rosemary + Lemon
- Lemongrass + Geranium
- Wild Orange + Peppermint
Homemade Soy Candle Tips
- Check your local thrift stores for unique tea cups or mugs to use as candle containers (just make sure that whatever container you choose is non-porous and
- It’s reeeaaalllly important that you keep your wicks in the middle of the jar– otherwise, the candle won’t burn evenly, which is super annoying.
- Of course, you can totally use beeswax or tallow to make these candles instead of soy wax, if you like
Cost Breakdown for Homemade Soy Candles
Based on what I paid for my wicks and soy wax on Amazon:
7 ounces of wax (enough for a half-pint jar) = $1.00
Wicks = 18 cents each
Half-pint jar = 58 cents each (or free if you have a stash in your canning closet!)
That brings us to a grand total of $1.76 per half-pint candle, which is pretty darn good in my opinion. Even if you dress them up a bit with some ribbon and greenery, that’s a thoughtful, handmade, and very cost-effective homemade gift.