How to Make Pillar Candles: Your Guide to Making a Pillar Candle From Scratch

How to Make Pillar Candles

Making a pillar candle, a type of freestanding candle known for its long burn times, can be a rewarding DIY project. This guide will delve into the various methods of crafting pillar candles, including techniques for those without a standard mold. You’ll discover the essential materials and steps needed to create your own beautiful, functional pillar candles. Let’s explore the art of candle-making and illuminate your space with your handcrafted creations.

Making Pillar Candles: Key Takeaways

  • Understand the unique characteristics of pillar candles.
  • Learn about essential tools and materials needed for candle making.
  • Discover the best practices for selecting and preparing wax.
  • Explore the art of adding fragrance and color to your candles.
  • Gain insights into choosing the right wick and molding techniques.
  • Master the pouring and cooling process for a perfect finish.
  • Uncover tips for unmolding and decorating your pillar candles.

What is a Pillar Candle?

A pillar candle is a type of candle characterized by its thick, cylindrical shape that allows it to stand independently without the need for a container. These candles vary in height and diameter and are known for their long-lasting burn time compared to other types of candles.

Pillar candles, with their sturdy, standalone structure, offer a classic aesthetic that suits various decor styles. These candles differ from other types in that they do not require a container, allowing for a more versatile display. The composition of pillar candles enables them to burn longer and more evenly, making them a popular choice for both ambiance and practical lighting.

Essential Tools & Materials for Making Pillar Candles

Embarking on the journey of making pillar candles begins with gathering the right tools and materials. Let’s dive into the specifics of what you’ll need to start crafting your own beautiful pillar candles.

Tools for Making Pillar Candles

Creating pillar candles requires specific candle-making tools that make the process efficient and enjoyable. It’s essential to have the right equipment on hand before you start. Here are the key tools you’ll need:

  • Measuring tools: These are used for measuring the amount of wax, fragrance oil, and color you use. Whether you use a scale or measure volumentrically, having graduated cylendars, kitchen scales, and other tools will help you ensure you have the correct ratios for your candles.
  • A double boiler or wax melter: These are used for melting and pouring wax. Double boilers are easy and affordable, as they can be improvised at home. Candle wax melters are more specialized, and they come in various sizes and typically have a spout for easy, precise pouring. 
  • Thermometer: A crucial tool to measure the temperature of your wax. Accurate temperature control is vital for achieving the best results.
  • Wick Bars: These are used to keep the wick centered and taut in the mold, especially crucial when using aluminum molds.
  • Mold Sealer: This helps to seal the bottom of the mold to prevent wax leakage.
  • A Pillar Candle Mold: This forms the shape of your free-standing candle and is essential for making your own pillar candle.

Having these tools at your disposal will streamline your candle-making process, ensuring you create beautiful, high-quality pillar candles.

Materials for Making Pillar Candles

While the tools are necessary for the process, the materials you choose will greatly influence the quality and appearance of your pillar candles. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Wax: The type of wax is the most significant material choice. Options include paraffin, soy, beeswax, and more specialized blends, each offering different properties and burning characteristics.
  • Fragrance Oils: These add scent to your candles. The fragrance oil should be compatible with the type of wax you are using to ensure a good scent throw.
  • Dyes: If you want colored candles, you’ll need candle dyes. These come in various forms, such as liquid, powder, or blocks.
  • Wicks: The right wick is crucial for a clean, even burn. The size and type will depend on your candle’s diameter and the wax type.

With the right combination of materials, you can customize your pillar candles to suit any preference or style.

Step-by-Step Walkthrough: Making a Pillar Candle

Crafting a beeswax pillar candle at home is both a delightful and rewarding hobby. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process, ensuring you end up with a beautifully crafted candle that not only enhances your home decor but also provides a calming ambiance.

  1. Cut and Measure The Wax: Begin with your chosen wax. Use a utility knife to score and then break the wax into smaller pieces, suitable for melting.
  2. Melt The Wax: Set up a double boiler or candle wax melter to melt the wax. If using a double boiler, place the wax in a pouring pot and set it over a saucepan with simmering water. Use a metal trivet or cookie-cutter beneath the pouring pot to avoid direct heat. Monitor the wax temperature to avoid overheating.
  3. Prepare The Molds: While the wax is melting, prepare your aluminum metal pillar molds. Clean your molds thoroughly (even new molds) to ensure a smooth surface for your candles. Insert pre-waxed candle wicks, cutting them longer than the mold’s height for easy handling.
  4. Anchor The Wick: Add the wick and secure it at both ends of the mold. Use mold sealer putty at the base to prevent leaks and a candle wick holder at the top to keep the wick centered and straight.
  5. Measure and Add Fragrance Oil: Once the wax is melted, add your chosen fragrance oil. Stir well to ensure even distribution of the scent throughout the wax.
  6. Measure & Add Dye: If desired, add the candle color dye to the melted wax. Stir thoroughly to ensure an even color throughout the mixture.
  7. Mix All Ingredients Thoroughly: Remove the pouring pot from the heat and stir the wax, fragrance, and dye mixture. Ensure that everything is well-combined and the mixture is uniform.
  8. Pour The Wax Mixture: Check the temperature and pour the wax into the prepared molds. Pour slowly to prevent air bubbles and ensure a smooth surface.
  9. Poke Relief Holes in The Wax: As the wax begins to set, poke relief holes near the wick to allow air pockets to escape. This step is crucial for preventing voids in your finished candle.
  10. Second Pour: Reheat any leftover wax and perform a second pour to fill in the relief holes and ensure a smooth, level surface on the top of the candle. This is best done while the candle is only semi-hard, so there are no layer lines.
  11. Remove The Candle From Mold: Once the wax has completely set, carefully unmold your candle. If the candle is resistant, placing the mold in the freezer for a few minutes can help release the candle.
  12. Allow The Candle to Cure: After you demold the candle, it needs to cure for 24 hours to 2 weeks to ensure the fragrance is fully set.

Selecting the Best Candle Wax for Pillar Candles

The choice of wax in candle making is pivotal, particularly for pillar candles. Each type of wax has its own set of characteristics that influence the candle’s structure, burning quality, and scent distribution. Below is a comprehensive comparison of different wax types, highlighting their advantages and disadvantages.

What is the Best Type of Wax for Pillar Candles?

For pillar candles, the most common choices are beeswax, paraffin wax, soy wax, and paraffin-soy blends. Each offers unique benefits for candle making.

Wax Type




  • Natural and non-toxic
  • Slow-burning and low-drip
  • Hypoallergenic with a natural fragrance
  • More expensive
  • Limited fragrance absorption

Paraffin Wax

  • Excellent scent throw
  • Smooth texture, ideal for vibrant colors
  • Widely available and affordable
  • Derived from petroleum, less eco-friendly
  • Can produce more soot

Soy Wax

  • Eco-friendly and renewable
  • Cleaner burn with less soot
  • Longer burning time
  • Can be too soft for pillar candles without blending
  • May not hold fragrance as well as paraffin

Paraffin-Soy Blend

  • Good balance between firmness and clean burn
  • Better fragrance retention than pure soy wax
  • More affordable than pure beeswax
  • Not as natural as pure soy or beeswax
  • Quality varies depending on blend ratio

Understanding the properties of each wax type will help you make an informed decision to achieve your desired outcome in terms of aesthetics, fragrance, and burning efficiency.

Fragrance and Color: Bringing Your Candles to Life

Adding fragrance and color to your pillar candles transforms them from simple wax structures into captivating sensory experiences. This section will guide you through the process of selecting and incorporating these elements to create candles that not only look beautiful but also emit delightful scents.

Choosing Fragrances

Adding fragrance to your candle is a great way to personalize it. When selecting a fragrance oil, keep in mind the following:

  • Compatibility with Wax: Ensure the fragrance oil is compatible with the type of wax you are using. Different waxes have varying capacities for scent absorption and release.
  • Fragrance Load: This refers to the percentage of fragrance oil used in the candle. A common guideline is 1 ounce of fragrance per pound of wax, but this can vary based on wax type and personal preference.

Coloring Your Candles

Adding color to your candle creates visual appeal and draws the eye. When adding dye, keep in mind the following:

  • Type of Dye: Choose from liquid, powder, or block dyes based on your preference and the wax type. Each form has its own intensity and method of incorporation.
  • Color Intensity: The amount of dye you use will affect the color intensity. Start with a small amount and gradually increase until you achieve the desired shade. Remember, the color will appear lighter once the wax has solidified.

Both fragrance and color play significant roles in the overall appeal of your pillar candles. Experimenting with different scents and colors can lead to unique and personalized candle creations.

The Perfect Wick: A Critical Component

The wick is more than just a thread in a candle; it’s the heart of its functionality. Choosing the right wick is essential for ensuring that your pillar candles burn evenly and efficiently. Let’s delve into how to select the perfect wick for your candle creations.

Factors Influencing Wick Choice

  • Wax Type: Different waxes burn at different rates. For instance, beeswax and paraffin-soy blends may require wicks of different thicknesses or materials.
  • Candle Diameter: The width of your candle determines the size of the flame needed for an even burn. Wicks come in various sizes to accommodate different diameters.
  • Fragrance and Color Load: Heavily scented or deeply colored candles might need a thicker wick to ensure proper burning.

Best Wick Types for Pillar Candles

  • Flat Wicks: Ideal for most standard pillar candles, they curl slightly when burning to minimize carbon buildup.
  • Braided or Knitted Wicks: These are more robust, making them suitable for tougher wax blends or heavily scented candles.

The key to a perfect pillar candle lies in matching the wick to your specific combination of wax, diameter, fragrance, and color. A well-chosen wick ensures a beautiful, clean burn and enhances the overall candle experience.

Molding Your Pillar Candle

Creating the perfect pillar candle starts with choosing the right mold, an essential step that significantly influences the candle’s final appearance and quality.

Selecting the Right Mold for Your Pillar Candle

When selecting a mold for your pillar candle, the material is a key consideration. Aluminum molds are popular for their durability and are ideal for crafting standard shapes. They are known for their longevity and ability to consistently produce smooth candles. On the other hand, polycarbonate and silicone candle molds offer the flexibility to create more intricate and unique designs. These molds often enhance the gloss of the finished candle, adding an extra touch of elegance.

The size and shape of the mold are also crucial factors. Molds come in various dimensions and forms, providing an array of creative possibilities. Whether you are aiming for a classic cylindrical pillar candle or something more avant-garde, the right mold can turn your vision into reality.

Pillar Candle Mold Preparation and Pre-Heating

The preparation of your mold is just as important as the selection. Ensuring that the mold is clean and free from any residue from previous uses is crucial for achieving a smooth finish on your candle. Even the smallest particles or remnants of wax can affect the surface of your finished candle.

Pre-heating the mold can significantly improve the quality of the finished product. A slightly warmed mold helps prevent surface chilling, a common issue that can lead to imperfections on the candle’s surface. This simple step of pre-heating contributes to a smoother, more professional-looking pillar candle.

By carefully selecting and preparing your mold, you lay a solid foundation for a beautifully crafted pillar candle that not only looks appealing but also burns evenly.

How to Pour Wax for Pillar Candles

The process of pouring wax is a critical stage in candle making, where precision and care come into play. This phase not only shapes the candle but also affects its burning properties.

When pouring wax into the mold, it’s essential to do so slowly and steadily. This technique helps to avoid the formation of air bubbles, which can mar the candle’s surface and affect its structural integrity. The temperature at which you pour the wax can also have a significant impact. Too hot, and the wax may shrink excessively as it cools, leading to a sunken appearance. If it’s too cool, the wax may not fill the mold evenly, resulting in an uneven surface or even incomplete filling.

Timing is also crucial. The wax should be poured when it reaches the optimal temperature, usually specified by the wax manufacturer. This temperature is often a balance between being hot enough to pour smoothly and cool enough to begin solidifying upon contact with the mold.

As the wax begins to set, monitoring its behavior is important. Some waxes may require a second pouring to fill in any depressions or holes that form as the wax cools and contracts. This second pour, or ‘top-up,’ ensures a level and smooth top surface on the finished candle.

Mastering the wax pouring process is a skill that can take some practice. However, with patience and attention to detail, you can achieve beautifully crafted pillar candles with a professional finish.

Cooling Your Pillar Candles

After pouring the wax, the cooling process begins, which is pivotal for the final quality of your pillar candles. How you cool your candles can significantly impact their appearance and burning properties.

As the wax cools, it begins to solidify, starting from the outside and moving inward. It’s crucial to allow your candles to cool slowly and evenly. Rapid cooling can cause the wax to crack or create unsightly sinkholes. To achieve a uniform cooling process, it’s recommended to let the candles cool at room temperature in a draft-free environment. This controlled cooling helps prevent imperfections and ensures a smooth, consistent finish.

Be mindful of the ambient temperature of your cooling area. If the room is too cold, the wax may contract too quickly, leading to cracking. Conversely, if the room is too warm, the wax may not harden properly, affecting the candle’s shape and stability.

In some cases, depending on the wax type and the desired finish, you may consider force-cooling methods, such as circulated air, refrigeration, or cold-water baths. However, these methods should be used cautiously as they can introduce their own set of challenges and potential imperfections.

The key to successful cooling lies in patience and observation. By giving your candles the time they need to properly set, you are ensuring a beautiful and high-quality end product.

Unmolding Your Pillar Candle

Once your candles have thoroughly cooled and solidified, the next step is to unmold them, a process that requires both care and technique. Unmolding is the moment when you finally get to see the result of your efforts, making it both exciting and critical.

To begin, gently pull on the wick to see if the candle releases from the mold. If it does not easily come out, avoid forcing it, as this can damage the candle or the wick. Instead, gently tap the sides of the mold or roll it on a flat surface to encourage the candle to loosen.

If the candle still does not release, one method is to place the mold in a refrigerator for a short period. The cold will cause the wax to contract slightly, making it easier to remove. However, be cautious not to leave the candle in the cold for too long, as extreme temperature changes can cause cracking or affect the candle’s finish.

Once the candle is out of the mold, inspect it for any imperfections or rough edges. If needed, you can use a warm knife or a heat gun to smooth out the base or any uneven surfaces gently.

Unmolding is a delicate process, but with patience and the right techniques, you can ensure your pillar candles maintain their perfect shape and smooth finish.

Decorating Your Pillar Candle

Once you have successfully unmolded your pillar candles, the next exciting step is decoration. This phase allows for personalization and creativity to come into play, giving each candle a unique touch. Here are some ways you can decorate your pillar candles:

  • Trimming the Wick: The first step in decorating is to trim the wick to the appropriate length, usually about a quarter of an inch. This ensures the candle burns cleanly and safely.
  • Applying Finishes: You can apply various finishes to your candle, such as a gloss spray or a matte finish, to give it a distinctive look.
  • Adding Embellishments: Consider adding decorative elements like glitter, paint, or even embedding objects like dried flowers or seashells into the wax for a unique appearance.
  • Dipping or Layering Colors: For a multi-colored effect, you can dip the candle into different colored waxes or layer colors as you pour the wax into the mold.
  • Carving Designs: For the more skilled candle maker, carving intricate designs into the wax can transform your candle into a work of art.

Decorating your candles is an opportunity to express your creativity and give each candle a personal touch. Whether you prefer a classic, understated look or a more ornate design, the possibilities are endless.

Enjoy Your New DIY Pillar Candle!

Pillar candles, with their sturdy form and extended burn time, are a delightful addition to any home. This guide has walked you through the process of making pillar candles, providing insights into doing so even without a mold. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a beginner, the satisfaction of creating a pillar candle that enhances your space is immense. Remember, the art of candle-making is not just about the end product but also about the joy and tranquility found in the creative process.

DIY Pillar Candles: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I reuse leftover wax from old candles to make new pillar candles?

Yes, you can melt down and reuse wax from old candles. However, ensure the wax is clean and free from debris. Mixing different types of wax can alter the burning properties, so it’s best to use similar types of wax together.

How can I fix surface imperfections on my finished pillar candle?

Minor surface imperfections can be smoothed out using a heat gun or a warm knife. Gently apply heat to the area and smooth it with a knife or spatula.

What is the best way to store pillar candles?

Store your pillar candles in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Wrap them in wax paper or cling film to protect them from dust and preserve their scent and color.