One of the fun things about being a teacher is you learn to do all kinds of new things you would otherwise never do. I used to teach in Thailand and Thai schools are obsessed with making things. Every week, in club class, I had to make something new.
One week, scrambling around for something to make, one of the Thai teachers pulled me aside and said, “I teach you how to make soy candles”. Soy candles, eh? Never heard of them. But Thailand consumes tons of soy and also uses soy to make soy candles, so I figured it might be interesting.
So, before club, the Thai teacher sat me down and showed me step-by-step how to make soy candles. Then, during club, I acted like I was an expert, and made soy candles with my kids. They absolutely loved them, and begged me to help them make them again the following week.
Soy candles are actually quite easy to make and I’ve made them several times since. You only need five items and they’re cheap to buy, so making soy candles is also inexpensive.
Before you get started, you will need:
1 pound of soy wax per large candle (in Thailand, we used one kilo to make several small votive candles, which is just over 2 pounds)
1-2 ounces of fragrance, depending on how strong smelling you want it.
A glass container to put the melted wax in (we used small Thai pickle jars, about the same size as a small jam jar as we wanted to make several soy votive candles).
Some colored wax dye (my kids are into rainbows and bright things, so we got about 10 different colors – two would be fine to get started with though).
Once you’ve got all your items together here’s how you make soy candles:
1. Put the soy wax into a saucepan and heat on a medium heat.
2. When it’s melted, take it off the heat and add your fragrance oil. Stir it with a wooden spoon until it’s completely blended in.
3. Then add your wax dye and blend in (at this point, we split it up into 5 different metal containers and colored each with a different color).
4. Pour the wax into your glass container and put a cotton wick right in the middle of it. Lay a spoon or a wooden chopstick across the top of the jar so the wick can lean against it and so it will stay in the middle of the candle.
5. Let the wax dry completely. (During the drying stage, if you’re making a multi-colored candle, wait until the bottom layer is almost dry, then add a second layer, wait till that’s dry and add a third layer etc).
6. If you want to make a funky colored one, which my kids did, you can pour the different colored waxes in at the same time. They all blend together in a funky, dead-head kind of way and look very cool.
7. Dry the soy candle(s) overnight and then trim the wick to an inch in length.
This is a great project to do with kids because, as long as you’re the one monitoring the hot wax, you can let them add the fragrance, the colors and do the stirring. Hot wax does burn if it gets on your skin, but a little drop here and there won’t really hurt.
One word of caution – when you’re heating the wax, do make sure you stir it all the time as it can get too hot and will burn, which will render it unusable.
For the fragrance oils, we used typical Thai fragrances like jasmine, lily, ginger, lemongrass and mangosteen, but there are hundreds of fragrances available so you can make something you like.
Be creative. You never know, you might end up inventing a completely new fragrance, and your soy candles might become best sellers.