Candles have been used by humans for hundreds and hundreds of years, and remain very popular even now. While we would no longer read or write by candle light, using a flickering flame to create a cozy atmosphere and release a pleasant fragrance is something you’ll see in most households.
But candles are no longer the only way to achieve this effect, and lots of people are now using wax melts as well. One of the biggest differences between the two is that wax melts don’t evaporate, so even when the fragrance is used up, you’ll still be left with the wax.
So, what exactly can you do with this left-over wax? Make candles, of course! Wax melts are made from the exact same kinds of wax as normal candles are, so once the fragrance has faded, you can use the remaining wax to create a non-scented candle.
In this article, we’ll explain what a wax melt is and how it compares to a candle. We’ll also debunk some old myths about candle toxicity, and then we’ll give a step-by-step guide for making candles from old wax melts!
- Are Wax Melts the Same as Candles?
- Are Wax Melts Less Toxic than Candles?
- Can You Make Candles With Wax Melts?
- Making Candles Using Wax Melts Step-by-Step
- Wax Melt vs Candle: Which one is Better?
Are Wax Melts the Same as Candles?
Yes, wax melts are the same thing as candle wax. There are various kinds of waxes used to make candles. Paraffin wax and soy wax are the most common, but you’ll also see candles made from beeswax, palm wax, coconut wax, and vegetable wax. Any of these waxes can also be used to make wax melts.
In fact, if you grabbed a candle right now and cut off a chunk of wax from the corner, you’d have a wax melt! They’re exactly the same thing—the difference is in how the wax is heated.
How Candles Work
Candles heat wax via naked flame. A wick runs through the center of the wax, and when you set it alight, the heat from the fire melts the nearest wax. This liquid wax then travels up the wick until it reaches the base of the flame, where it’s so hot that it’s completely vaporized. When the wax vaporizes, it reacts with the oxygen in the flame and creates even more heat, which melts more of the wax and keeps the cycle going, allowing the candle to keep burning until all the wax is gone.
For scented candles, the fragrance oils in the candle wax will evaporate into the air as well, and be carried upwards by the convection current. This allows the fragrance to spread throughout a room and create the cozy atmosphere we desire.
How Wax Melts Work
Unlike candles, wax melts do not use an open flame. Instead, a special wax warmer (or wax melter) is purchased which creates heat electrically. A wax melt is put inside a wax warmer where it will be heated until it melts. However, wax warmers do not create anywhere near as much heat as a flame does. It will only heat the wax enough to melt it, not to vaporize it. The heat will still create a convection current that will carry the fragrance upwards and disperse it throughout the room, but the wax will stay in liquid form.
Because the fragrance oils will not be evaporated, wax melts can provide fragrance for longer than a candle can, and the wax can be reheated as many times as you want. However, the scent will still naturally fade over time, so you will eventually be left with just some normal colored wax.
Are Wax Melts Less Toxic than Candles?
Yes, wax melts are less toxic than candles because there is no burning involved. Burning material (even non-toxic material) releases various things into the air we breathe, and it isn’t ideal for any of these fumes or particles to enter our lungs.
However, due to the way our society creates energy (by burning fossil fuels), breathing such pollution is a part of our daily lives. In comparison, the amount of air pollution created by burning a candle is not considered significant enough to affect a human’s health, especially in a properly ventilated environment.
The toxicity of the wax used in candles is also debated. It is currently believed that paraffin wax is the most harmful wax that can be used in candles, and that natural alternatives like soy wax, beeswax and coconut wax release less dangerous chemicals when burned. However, research into this topic is not yet conclusive.
The kind of wick used in a candle can also affect toxicity, but regulations in this area have been in place since the 1970s to keep toxic materials (like lead) out of candle wicks. Most wicks are now made from cotton or paper.
If any of these factors make you uncomfortable, then wax melts are definitely the perfect solution, as they don’t involve any burning at all. With a wax melt, you won’t have to worry about any of the toxicity problems we just discussed, whether they use paraffin waxes or natural waxes. You also won’t have to worry about becoming part of the 4% of house fires caused by candles!
Can You Make Candles With Wax Melts?
Yes! Since the wax used in wax melts is the same as that used in candles, you absolutely can reuse wax melts for candle making. If you want to be economical and get some use out of old wax melts that have lost their scent, then you can make a normal colored non-scented candle out of the leftover wax. Or, if you prefer, you can also use new scented wax melts to make candles as well.
To make candles out of wax melts, you’ll need to melt wax and pour it into a candle holder with a wick inserted. If you want, you can add fragrance oils or essential oils to add a new scent when you melt the wax melts. Burns can happen during this process, so make sure to be careful. Once your wax and wick are in place, all you need to do is wait for it to cool and set.
Now, let’s get into the details!
Making Candles Using Wax Melts Step-by-Step
Making a candle out of wax melts is no harder than making a candle out of any other source of wax—but that’s not to say it’s easy. Candle making can get quite complicated, and there are a lot of factors that can affect the success and quality of your end product. But, if you’re planning to reuse wax melts, you at least don’t need to worry about wasting money!
All you’ll need for this project are a few basic supplies.
Things you’ll need:
- Wax melts (new or used)
- Candle holder
- Fragrance oils or essential oil (optional)
- Liquid dye or crayons (optional)
- Decorations, e.g glitter (optional)
- Measuring jug
- A pan and glass bowl to make a double boiler
- Hot water
Step 1 – Choosing Your Candle Holder
Creativity is key to this step! Some shapes of candle containers might prove trickier to use than others, but in general, anything goes! You can use an old candle holder, a glass container or cup, mason jars, flower pots, metal containers, or anything else you can think of.
Make sure to give your container a good wash and dry, and set it aside for later.
Step 2 – Choosing Your Wick
This is by far the most complicated part of making a traditional candle. The type and size of the wick you need depends on the type of wax you’re using and the diameter of your candle holder. From wax coated wicks, to various styles of braiding, metal core wicks and the kind of material used, there are many factors to consider when choosing your wick.
The best thing you can do is use a candle wick guide to match your wax type and candle size to a recommended wick type. But do be aware that even then, there can be some trial and error before you find what you need! Even the fragrance oils and dyes you add to the wax later on can affect how well your wick will work.
Step 3 – Measuring Your Wax
The usual rule for measuring candle wax is to pour the little wax pellets into your candle holder, weigh that amount and then double it. But since you’re using wax melts, you can’t do that!
Instead, we recommend pouring water into your candle holder until you reach the point where you’d want the wax to stop. You can then pour that water into a measuring jug and take note of the volume, so you know how much wax you need.
Once you know the volume of wax you need, you’ll then need to figure what weight that equals. If your candle holder can hold 8oz of water, this does not equate to 8oz of wax, because wax is 20% less dense than water. To get the correct measurement, you’ll need to divide the volume by 5 to calculate 20% and subtract that amount from your container volume. For instance, an 8oz container will need 6.4oz of wax. If you intend to add fragrance to your candle, 10% of this weight should be reserved for scented oil which would result in 5.6oz of wax.
Once you know what you need, simply use some scales to measure the right amount of wax melts.
Step 4 – Melting Your Wax
The best way to melt wax is to use the double boiler method. This means heating a pan of water and placing an appropriately sized glass bowl on the pan so it can gently heat up and melt candle wax. To melt the wax, you can bring the water to a boil over medium heat, and then turn off the heat when you place the bowl on top and add the wax. Stir the wax occasionally and wait for it to fully melt. Depending on the amount of wax, this can take around 10-15 minutes.
Step 5 – Customizing Your Wax
This step is entirely optional. If you don’t want to add color, fragrance or decorations to your candles, you can skip this step and head straight to step 6.
If you do want to add any of these things, now is the time! For decoration, you can mix in items like glitter, flower petals, confetti, or anything else you can think of.
For color, you can use candle dye or colored crayons to change the hue of your candle. If you’re starting off with white wax, you’ll be able to change the color with just a few drops of dye. But if your wax melts are already colored, you will need to add more to tweak the color. The best way to add dyes is little by little until you have the color you want. If you’re adding crayons, you’ll need to do this while the wax is still sitting on the double boiler.
For fragrance, you can add fragrance oil or essential oil. If you’re wondering about the difference between these two—essential oil is made from pure extracts of plants and flowers (like vanilla extract), while fragrance oil is man-made. This means essential oils only come in natural flavors, whereas fragrance oil can be found in anything from fresh cotton to bubblegum flavor.
Other differences include ‘scent throw’: fragrance oil tends to have a better scent throw than essential oil, meaning the scent dissipates and extends further, filling the room better. But essential oils, being natural, have less chemicals (although the chemicals in fragrance oil are negligible anyway).
The standard amount of oil to add is 10% of the container volume. In the case of 8oz candle containers, that would mean 0.8oz of essential or fragrance oil per container. You can also use a fragrance calculator. Simply measure the desired amount, pour it into the wax and briefly stir.
Step 6 – Attaching Your Wick
Before you pour your wax, you’ll need to attach the wick to your container. The wick will have a metal base that you’ll need to stick to the bottom of your container. You can do this by applying some melted wax and sticking it down before the wax cools. You can also use superglue if you prefer. Make sure the wick is as centered as you can get it.
Step 7 – Pouring Your Wax
Once your wax is melted and customized, and your wick is in place, it’s time to pour. You may want to transfer the wax to your measuring jug for easy pouring. When pouring the wax into your candle holder, make sure to hold the wick straight and tight, but don’t pull on it.
Step 8 – Securing Your Wick
Once all the melted wax is poured in, you’ll need to secure the wick to stop it from moving or sinking into the wax. To do this, grab a pair of chopsticks and sandwich the wick between them to hold it in place. Make sure the wick is nice and secure to prevent it from falling into the melted wax.
Step 9 – Waiting For Your Candle to Set
Next, you need to wait for the candle wax to solidify. It might be tempting to put your candle in the fridge to speed this process up, but we recommend allowing the wax to cool at room temperature. It should take around four hours to fully set.
Step 10 – Cutting Your Wick
Finally, you need to trim the wick to the appropriate length of around half an inch. And that’s it, your candle is complete!
Wax Melt vs Candle: Which one is Better?
The answer to this is ultimately down to personal preference, but wax melts do indeed out-perform candles in a lot of ways.
Firstly, wax melts are considerably cheaper than candles. To highlight the difference in price, let’s take a look at a standard Yankee candle vs. Yankee wax melts. A standard Yankee candle costs $31 and burns for between 110 – 150 hours. Alternatively, you can take that money and buy 5 packs of 6 wax melts (a total of 30 wax melts costing $27.50). Each wax melt will last around 8 hours, giving you a total of 240 hours of fragrance. This means you can potentially get double the amount of hours from wax melts compared to candles.
Secondly, wax melts eliminate the fire hazard and toxicity risks of candles—but we’ll get into that in the next section!
Thirdly, wax melts allow for more customisation than candles. You can melt multiple wax melts to strengthen the fragrance, and you can even mix scents to create your own signature fragrance! To achieve this with a candle, you’d have to make the candle from scratch yourself.
Additionally, a lot of candle warmers come with timers so you can use your wax melts more economically. If you know a wax melt can spread fragrance throughout your room in around half an hour, you can set your wax warmer to turn off after 30 minutes and stop yourself from using more than you intended when you inevitably forget about turning it off yourself!
One area in which candles still tend to come out on top is lighting and atmosphere. Although many wax warmers make use of LED lights to simulate a flickering flame, many find it lacking compared to the real thing. Some people also find the fragrance to be lacking without the earthy tones provided by the burning wick of a candle.
And there you have it, that’s how you reuse wax melts to make a candle! Whether you use plain wax, scented wax, colored wax, or go crazy with glitter, your homemade candle will make a great gift for any candle lover, or look great on your own coffee table.
Making your own candles is a great project, and creating a new candle from old wax is especially rewarding. Here’s one last tip: since candles and wax melts are made from the same thing, you can also make wax melts from leftover candle wax!
This can be a great way to salvage a dud candle that doesn’t burn. Simply chop the wax up and put it in your wax warmer!