Floating candles are lovely to have for occasions such as weddings and parties or they can simply dress up a table in the home. Making a floating candle is no more difficult than making a regular candle and perhaps even easier because floating candles tend to be small.
- Find a floating candle mold. To make sure that your candle will float, a mold made specifically for floating candles will ensure that the shape is correct for floating. The top part of the candle has to be slightly bigger than the bottom part and commercially available molds will ensure that the ratio is correct. If you can't find a floater mold that you like, look for any small mold that has a top that is larger than the bottom. It should be a small, fairly compact shape, and not too terribly elaborate. A mold that has lots of detail on the top can let water through the creases in the top, which will eventually sink the candle.
- Find the wax, wick, color and scent. All of these can be found in hobby stores, large discount retailers and on eBay. The best place for these items in bulk is eBay, but if you only want to make one or two candles, you might want to buy a small candle kit, which will contain everything necessary. These are available in the same places as other candle-making items, plus they are available in toy stores. Any type of wax is fine for a floater, except for container wax blends, which are too soft. When buying wick for floater candles, look for zinc or paper core wicks. These can be bought loose to cut to size, or already cut and attached to a wick tab. The most common type of candle color sold is a diamond chip, which is just a small block of color in the shape of a diamond. Diamond chips are easy to use because they can be broken in half if you want a light color or any of the corners can be broken off for pastels or if you are looking to mix colors.
- Find a pouring pot. These are available in hobby stores and online and are generally just tall metal pots with a pouring spout at the top. Wax is put into the pot to melt and then poured into the mold.
- Find a thermometer and heat source. A candle or candy thermometer is an excellent safety device to ensure that the wax does not reach its flash point (the point at which the wax will catch on fire). Liquid wax is extremely flammable, so if you don't have a thermometer, stand near the wax and be ready to pour it as soon as it is melted. This way, it won't have time to get too hot. A heat source can be a stovetop or a hot plate. I recommend a hot plate as it is much easier to clean. When wax is poured, a few drops will inevitably drip down the side of the pot. Wax is extremely difficult to get off a burner whereas a hot plate can be scraped with a knife after the wax has cooled.
- Once your items are assembled, put some wax into the pot to melt. If you have a large slab of bulk wax, you will have to cut some free with a knife so that it will fit in the pot. If you have bought a kit, the wax will be the right size to fit. Let the wax melt a little, then add whatever ingredients you choose to customize the candle. If you want scent and/or color, add those at this point. Liquid scent is the most potent and easy to use. For color, chip color comes in practically any color and is inexpensive. Read the directions regarding how much to put in--you will have to estimate how much wax you have in the pot. Diamond chip color calls for a full chip for every pound and less if you want a lighter color. Once everything is inside, slosh the pot gently to stir everything together.
- Set up your mold. If you have a wick hole in the mold, thread the wick through and attach it to the other side. Something will have to be placed over it to both hold it in place and to make sure wax doesn't leak through. Anything with a soft, pliable nature will be effective, or you can use a strong tape such as duct tape. There are specific products on the market, such as the Jiffy Wicker, that are very effective in this capacity, but they aren't necessary. If you don't have a wick hole, stand a wick inside. A zinc or paper core wick will stand up nicely if you have a wick tab attached to the bottom to hold it down. If you don't have a tab, coil the bottom a little to make it stand up. if you have trouble doing this, tie one end of the wick to a stick or piece of flatware, and lay the item across the top of the mold with the wick dangling down. Get the wick as close to the bottom of the mold as possible.
- Pour and repour the wax. Once all of the wax is liquid, it is time to pour. Pour the wax very slowly to avoid too many bubbles. Once the mold is filled, tap the side of the mold gently a few times to release some of the bubbles. Once the wax is nearly cooled, there may be a sinkhole in the middle. This occurs because wax shrinks a little as it cools. It will sink down into the mold as it cools, leaving a depression in the middle. The larger the candle is, the deeper the depression will be. Pour more wax into the sink hole to make sure of a smooth surface for the candle. This may have to be done more than once.
- Let the candle cool. Once the candle is cooled and there are no more sinkholes, it is safe to remove the candle from the mold. If the wick was tied to something, cut it free. Most wicks say to cut it to 1/4" long above the candle, but I have found that this length makes it hard to light and prefer to leave the wick about 1/2" long. Prepare a bowl of water to float the candle in and you have a floating candle ready for display.