Candle making is a great craft to enjoy at home with the family, and homemade candles make a wonderful personalized gift. But if you’re thinking of trying out the craft for the first time, it’s unlikely that you’ll own or want to buy all of the specialized equipment required.
The main example of this is the equipment needed to melt candle wax: a double boiler or a wax melting pot. Do you have to buy one of these pieces of equipment, or are there other ways you can melt candle wax?
You may have heard that you can simply microwave a candle to melt and remove the wax. However, this is not advisable. Putting candles as-is into a microwave can be dangerous for three reasons: there will be a metal disk attached to the bottom of the wick, the wick itself may contain metal, and your candle holder may not be microwave-safe.
In this article, we’ll explain in further detail why it’s best to avoid putting a candle in the microwave. We’ll also show you how you can use a microwave to melt the wax, and include some other ways to melt wax, too.
- Can Candle Wax be Melted in the Microwave?
- Is it Safe to Put a Candle in the Microwave?
- Can Wax Explode in the Microwave?
- How to Melt Wax in the Microwave Oven
- How Do You Remove Candle Wax From Microwave?
- How to Melt a Candle the Right Way
- Other Ways to Remelt Candle Wax
Can Candle Wax be Melted in the Microwave?
Yes, you can melt candle wax of certain kinds in the microwave. For clarity, ‘candle wax’, refers only to the wax that candles are made from. It does not refer to a whole candle (i.e candle wax with a wick attached).
There is a surprising amount of debate on this subject, but we can assure you that certain types of candle wax can be melted in the microwave, and it is not dangerous to do so. The general rule is that natural waxes can be microwaved, and synthetic waxes cannot.
Some sites claim that since candle wax has such low water content, the microwave won’t be able to melt it at all. While it is true that wax contains only a very small amount of water, this does not mean you cannot melt candle wax in the microwave. The kind of molecules a material needs to contain to be microwaveable are called ‘polar molecules’, and water is just one example of a polar molecule. Among other substances, fats and sugars also fall into this category.
Natural waxes contain various types of fat, which is why they can still melt properly in the microwave. Synthetic waxes like paraffin candle wax, however, do not contain the right kinds of molecules, so they should not be heated in a microwave. Instead, we recommend only melting candle wax made from paraffin with a double boiler or melting pot.
The most effective and popular kind of natural wax for candle making is soy wax, and it is also the best wax to use if you plan on melting candle wax in a microwave.
You may also find some information on the internet that claims melting wax in a microwave is a fire hazard. However, this is not the case, as long as you stick to the following basic safety protocols when melting wax:
- Don’t put metal in the microwave.
- Only use microwave-safe containers and utensils.
- Microwave in short bursts and check the contents regularly.
- Don’t walk away from the microwave while it’s in use.
Is it Safe to Put a Candle in the Microwave?
It is not safe to put a Yankee candle in the microwave. It is common knowledge that metal items should not be heated in the microwave, and all microwave manufacturers request that consumers stick to this rule.
It may not be immediately obvious, but most candles will contain metals.
The first and most likely place you’ll find metals on your candle is at the base of the wick. If your candle is in a candle holder, you won’t be able to see this at all. A small metal disk is used to hold the wick in place and attach it to the base of a candle holder or mold.
The second part of a candle that may contain metals is inside the wick. Some wicks have ‘metal cores’ that help to make the candle burn more slowly. Lead cores are actually banned in most countries now, but it is believed that a significant amount can still be found on the market today. Other cores may be made from zinc, which is not banned. You can see if your wick has a metal core by pulling back the threading to see if there’s a metal wire in the center.
Lastly, many candle holders will be made from non-microwave-safe materials, and some may even contain metals.
Can Wax Explode in the Microwave?
Candle wax will not explode in the microwave, but it can catch fire in extreme cases. Overheating the wax past 200F can put the wax at risk of catching fire—this is true no matter what method you are using to heat the wax.
Even if nothing dangerous happens, overheating candle wax will cause other problems that will likely ruin your candles. For example, you may notice that your fragrance oils haven’t worked properly, the wax won’t stick to your candle holder, or you might see discoloration or cracking in the wax.
How to Melt Wax in the Microwave Oven
Microwaves are not a great long-term tool to use for candle making, but if you don’t have the proper equipment yet, they can be used to melt small batches of wax. Here is a quick step-by-step on how to melt wax in a microwave.
What you’ll need:
- Soy wax
- Microwave-safe container (plastic)
- Microwave-safe utensil for stirring
- Oven mitts
The first thing to remember is that the type of wax you choose is very important. Modern candles are typically made out of paraffin wax or soy wax. Paraffin wax should not be heated in a microwave, so make sure you choose soy wax instead. You can use either new wax pellets or old wax remnants from other candles.
Only melt soy wax in the microwave in small batches, and make sure you’re using wax pellets. If you want to melt a big block of wax, you’ll need to cut it into smaller pieces first.
Only use a microwave-safe plastic jug to melt the wax in. Do not use a glass container because the wax can reach high enough temperatures to shatter the glass.
Measure out the desired amount of candle wax into the microwave-safe bowl. Also, note that it is not advised to reuse a container for food once you have used it for candle making.
Set your microwave to 1000 watts, or as close as it can get. Place the jug inside and set the microwave for 5 minutes.
Check the wax halfway through, give it a stir with a microwave-safe utensil, and use a thermometer to check the temperature. You will need to use oven mitts to remove the hot jug from the microwave. The ideal temperature is between 185-195F.
Continue microwaving until the time is up. Make sure not to leave the wax unattended while the microwave is in use.
When the 5 minutes are up, remove the jug from the microwave with oven mitts (the melted wax will be very hot!). Give it a stir and check the temperature.
If the wax is not completely melted yet, put it back into the microwave and heat it for short 15-second bursts until the wax melts completely. If there are only small pieces of unmelted wax still present, the residual heat may be able to melt them, so just keep stirring. If the temperature is lower than 175F you will also need to put it back in the microwave and continue heating until it reaches 185F.
Once this step is complete, you should be ready to make a candle with your melted candle wax!
Note: We do not recommend trying this method unless you have all the right equipment. Melting candle wax in a microwave without a thermometer to measure the temperature, without a proper microwave-safe container, or without the right kind of wax is not advisable.
How Do You Remove Candle Wax From Microwave?
If you end up with a wax spillage in your microwave oven (it happens!), then the best way to clean it up is with alcohol wipes while it’s still warm and in liquid form.
If the wax has already set again, then use a rubber or plastic spatula to dislodge the wax, and use the alcohol wipes to clean up the remaining residue. Make sure you unplug your microwave before cleaning it!
How to Melt a Candle the Right Way
If you have an old Yankee candle you never used, or a dud candle that won’t burn, you may want to melt the wax so you can use it for something else. Or, you may just want to melt the candle so you can transfer it to a new candle holder or alter the shape to your liking.
Whatever the reason, when you need to melt a full candle, make sure to never use the microwave oven. As mentioned before, your candle is fairly likely to contain metal, and metals should not be heated in microwaves!
Melting a Candle Step-by-Step
To melt candles, the best thing to do is use a knife to cut the candle into pieces so you can remove the wick. No melting methods are designed for large chunks of wax anyway, so cutting the wax down would need to be done either way.
If your candles are already in a candle holder or container, they will need to be removed before you can cut the candles up. You can try placing the candles in a hot water bath to melt the edges and allow them to be pulled out. Alternatively, freezing the candle for a short period of time should allow the wax to pop right out of its container.
When cutting the candle, it’s best to work from the outside, shaving off chunks until you get close enough to the center to easily make a vertical cut and pull out sections of the wick. If you find it difficult to remove the wick, you can just remove as much wax as you can, and then put all of the wax, including that still etched to the wick into a double boiler. Of course, you can’t do this if you’re planning to use a microwave. In that case, you must fully remove the wick first.
Once cut into small enough pieces, you can melt candle wax in a double boiler, wax melting pot, or wax warmer. Make sure to handle the hot wax with care no matter what melting method you are using. With the wax melted, you’ll be able to start pouring your candle.
Other Ways to Remelt Candle Wax
It wouldn’t be surprising if reading all this has put you off trying to use your microwave to melt candle wax. There are a lot of rules and a lot of things that can go wrong.
While a microwave can melt wax faster than most methods, the truth is that wax is best melted slowly and carefully. If you don’t want to use your microwave oven, here are a few more ideas you can try.
The Make-shift Double Boiler
Just because you don’t have a double boiler, doesn’t mean you can’t use the double boiler method! A double boiler is one container holding hot water, and another container on top receiving heat.
If you can find a glass bowl and some kind of container it can sit in, then you’ll be able to fill it with boiling water and melt candle wax nice and gently. If you can find a glass bowl that can sit snugly on top of your saucepan, then even better! But, again, do take note that any containers used to handle wax, dyes, and fragrance oils should not then be used for food, even after they’ve been cleaned.
If you happen to have a wax warmer or wax burner, you can use this to melt small amounts of leftover wax. Simply place the wax into the wax warmer and turn it on.
Wax warmers don’t reach very high temperatures, so the wax won’t melt very fast, but on the bright side, you won’t need to keep an eye on it while it melts. You can feel free to walk away and let the wax warmer do all the work.
Wax Melting Pot
Of course, the proper equipment is also an option. It might not be as expensive as you think—mini wax melting pots can be found for as little as $35! With this specialized piece of equipment, you can melt candle wax with peace of mind knowing that nothing is going to go wrong. You can also melt any kind of candle wax and leave the appliance unattended while it works.
For anyone with a higher budget, fancier wax melting pots can be bought that actually include a tap to quickly, easily, and neatly pour out candles.
If a wax melting pot is still a little much to buy right now, a double boiler for melting candle wax can be purchased for even less. If you can’t find anything to create a make-shift double boiler, or you don’t have any bowls that you’re willing to give up using for food, then this could be a worthwhile purchase.
To summarize, melting wax in the microwave is possible when certain conditions are met, but can often be more trouble than it’s worth. Even without proper equipment, there is likely an easier way you’ll be able to melt leftover wax for making candles.
Melting candle wax doesn’t have to be a tricky job, and since the crafting process should be fun, it’s best to choose the easiest and most effort-free method!