Whether it’s a one time craft project with the kids or a personal hobby, making candles at home is fun, easy and cheap.
And nothing is better than making candles in your favorite colors.
So in this article you’ll find easy instructions on how to color your candles and which dye to use.
If you already made candles at home before you will be able to learn how to color candles within no time.
The trick is to add the right type of dye at the right moment.
Sounds easy pretty easy, right?
You will need to prepare the following materials:
How to color wax
1 Pick your favorite type of wax
Candles can be made out of different types of wax such as beeswax, soy wax, paraffin wax, etc. All of them have their own pros and cons, so you might want to read our article on different types of candle wax first.
Using new candle wax is the easiest and especially soy wax is popular among beginners.
But if you have any old candles you can also try to melt those and make new candles. This is especially great if the wick of your old candle already stopped working but there is still a fair amount of wax left.
However, you should be careful of scented candles since melting them at high temperatures might change the fragrance in an unpleasant way.
2 Melting the wax
There are 2 things you want to keep in mind when melting the wax.
First, you don’t want to apply heat directly because that might change the natural consistency of the wax. Instead, you can use a double boiler or place a glass mixing bowl inside a pan with hot water.
Secondly, you need to know what type of wax you are working with because different types melt at different temperatures. And you definitely don’t want to raise the temperature too high or you might burn the wax.
So slowly raise the temperature to around 180 degrees Fahrenheit (depending on your type of wax) and keep stirring till all the wax is completely molten.
3 Add the candle dye
Now you want to add the dye into the molten wax. There are different types of dye you can use and you can read about them later in this article.
Make sure to only add small amounts at once and then stir the wax for a while to mix in the color completely. Especially if you are using dye blocks it can take a while before they melt.
How much dye you need to add depends on the type of dye and type of wax you are using. You can find more on this later in the article.
If you got the color you wanted you want to take a piece of paper and drop a little bit of wax on it.
This is because the color of the molten wax and can change quite a lot when cooling down. So this is an easy way to check what your final candle will look like.
If the color of the dried wax looks too light you can try adding some more dye and try again. If the color is too dark you can also try to add extra wax to dilute the dye.
Tip: combine different dyes to make new colors
4 Cooling down the wax
You don’t want to pour the candle wax when it is still super hot. Since this might break the container you are using and the candle might crack due to shrinkage.
So let the candle wax cool down to around 140 degrees Fahrenheit first.
4.5 Add candle fragrance (optional step)
If you want to give you candle a great scent as well, this is the right time to add any of your favorite candle fragrance oils like vanilla, peppermint, or lavender.
I personally always add a few drops of fragrance oils because scented candles make your room smell amazing.
5 Preparing the container
You can get really creative when it comes to containers for your candle. But the good old mason jar never fails to impress.
Take a wick and tie one end around a pencil such that the metal end can still reach the bottom of your container. Make sure that the wick is in the center of your container.
6 Pouring the wax
Now take your molten wax and slowly pour it into your container. Make sure to leave a little bit of space at the top.
If you have leftover wax that didn’t fit on your container, you can always let it dry and melt it again next time you are making candles.
The last step is definitely not the most exciting one. But you do have to give your new candles a little time to cold down completely before you use it.
After a few hours the wax will be completely solid and you can cut the wick from the pencil, leaving around half a centimeter from the surface.
How to choose candle dyes
There are different ways to dye your candle wax. The best way is to use a liquid dye, dye blocks or dye flakes.
These dyes are highly concentrated such that you only need to use a little to get the colors you want.
Let’s look at them one by one.
1. Liquid candle dye
Liquid candle dye is my personal favorite because it’s super easy to use.
Since liquid dye is highly concentrated you only need to add a few drops per 100 grams of candle wax.
It is also easy to make the same color again in the further without any weighing or measuring by simply remembering how many drops per 100 grams of wax you need. Moreover, it is very easy to make new colors by mixing different dyes together
Compared to other types of dye, liquid candle dye has the tendency to create rather light pastel colors. I personally like these colors, but if you want to make candles with more intense colors you might have to use dye blocks instead.
2. Candle dye blocks and chips
Dye blocks and dye chips are made out of vegetable wax with a high amount of dye in them. When you add these blocks or chips to your wax while heating, they will slowly melt and release the dye.
Although they are pretty similar, dye chips are normally smaller and work a little better for light and pastel shades while candle dye blocks are more bulky and produce a darker hue.
Regardless of which one you use, you always have to make sure that the dye is completely dissolved and evenly mixed with the wax. Obviously this can take quite a while with big dye blocks but the last thing you want are big chunks of wax in your candle.
Although dye blocks and dye chips are great for making dark colors, it can be a little annoying to use them when you are making candles in small batches. Since adding a single block might be too much, you will have to cut or shave the block to get the right amount.
3. Candles Dye Flakes
Candle dye flakes are pretty much dye blocks that are already shaved for you. This makes it easier to measure the exact amount of dye you need for a particular color. Moreover, these thin flakes dissolve much faster in the hot wax than the solid dye blocks.
Frequently asked questions
How much dye to use in candles?
The amount of dye you need to add to your wax depends on the type of dye you are using and what shade of color you want to achieve.
For liquid candle dye, you can achieve pretty light shades with a dye concentration as low as 0.005% and pretty dark shades with a concentration of 0.1%. (However, make sure you don’t add more than 20 ml of liquid dye per kilo of wax, or else the dye can clog up the wick.)
For dye blocks & chips, you should add about one dye chip per 500 gram of wax or one 5 cm by 3 cm dye block per 3 kg of wax to obtain a medium shade.
Finally, if you are using dye flakes you want roughly 0.1 wt% of dye flakes to get light shades or 0.25 wt% to obtain dark shades. So if your wax weighs 1 kg, you want to add 1 gram of dye flakes.
Can you use food coloring in candles ?
People often ask me if you can use food coloring for candles as well.
And as always, the answer is that it depends.
The problem is that most types of food coloring are water-based, and they don’t mix well with the molten wax.
So it is difficult to get even coloring throughout the entire candle. And as soon as you light the candle the color will start to separate.
I have heard that gel food coloring mixes pretty well with candle wax. But I haven’t tried it myself and suggest you stick with the regular candle dyes.
Can you use crayons to color candles?
Many beginners like to use crayons to add color to their wax. Crayons are cheaper than other dyes, give pretty nice colors, and mixes well with molten candle wax.
But crayons have one big disadvantage!
The problem is that the pigment from the crayons will slowly start to clog the wick of your candle. So after a while the candle will extinguish itself and you will be left with half a candle that you can’t use.
If you want your flame to last a long time you should use one of the 3 types of candle dye mentioned above.