Water candles look impressive, but they are surprisingly easy to make. The combination of water with a few decorations creates a pretty, shimmering light. The trick behind these candles is creating a floating wick out of thin plastic, and adding one secret ingredient to the water.
EditDecorating the Jar
- Find a pretty glass container to use for your candle. It can be as simple as a mason jar or a tall, cylindrical candle holder (hurricane). For something more unique, you could try a small fishbowl or even a wine glass! For better results, use a tall, narrow vase. This will allow you to fill it with more decorations and have a thicker oil layer, which will increase the burning time.
- Keep it simple with glass marbles. They are often labeled as “vase filler” and come in round or half-dome shapes. You can find these in the floral section of an arts and crafts store. How much vase filler you add is up to you, but don’t fill the bottom of your jar more than a third of the way. If you overfill the jar, you won’t have room to add the water and the oil.
- Create an elegant jar by filling it with flowers. Cut the blooms off of real flowers, or pull them off of fake ones. Fill your jar about two-thirds of the way with these flowers, or until you have about of space at the top. For a more elegant candle, fill the jar a quarter of the way with clear, glass marbles first, then add the flowers.
- Fresh flowers will last up to 1 week in the jar.
- Use thinly-sliced citrus fruit for a colorful jar. Cut an orange, lemon, and grapefruit into thin slices, then fill the jar two-thirds of the way with them. Make sure that the flat parts of the slices are pressed up against the walls of the jar so that they are visible.
- You don’t have to use all 3 types of citrus fruit. You can use just 1 or 2 types of citrus fruit.
- For more color and fragrance, add some herbs, such as rosemary sprigs, star anise, cloves, or cinnamon sticks.
- Fresh herbs and fruit slices will last up to 1 week in the water.
- Tint the water with food coloring for a unique effect. Food coloring is potent, so you’ll have to dye the water before pouring it into the jar that you will be using. Fill a large jar with water, then stir in 1 drop of food coloring. Adjust the amount of water and food coloring until you get the shade you want. Save the colored water for later.
- Create an underwater scene with sand, plastic fish, and shells. Fill the bottom quarter of your jar with light-colored sand. Add 1 to 2 plastic fish. Make the scene more aquarium-like with a pretty shell and an aquarium plant. When the time comes to fill your jar with water, use blue-tinted water.
- For an elegant scene, use sand, 1 to 2 shells, and a small aquarium plant or sprig of rosemary.
- Fill the jar with other items that match your décor. Make sure that the items are water-safe and heavy enough so that they don’t float. If you are using a combination of different items, make sure that they look nice together. If you are going to be using the jars for an event, make sure that they match the decorations that you will be using. Don’t fill the jar more than two-thirds of the way.
EditCreating the Wick
- Crumble the wax off of a birthday candle. You can use a brand-new birthday candle or a spent one. If you decide to use a brand-new birthday candle, cut the wick in half after you crumble the wax off to make it shorter. The length of the wick won’t affect how long the candle will burn; the amount of oil you use will. If the wick is too long, it will just burn and fall into the water.
- For some reason, waxed wicks and cotton wicks don’t seem to work very well for this type of candle. Stick with birthday candle wicks.
- If you are able to find floating wicks online or in a store, you can use those instead and skip this section. They are floating metal disks with wicks inside of them.
- Soak the wick in oil for 2 minutes. Fill a small dish with cooking oil or lamp oil, then place the wick into the oil. Leave the wick there for 2 minutes before pulling it out and wiping the excess oil off with a paper towel. This will saturate the wick and help it burn more effectively.
- Great types of cooking oil to use include: canola, olive, and sunflower.
- You should use the same type of oil later on when you go to assemble your candle.
- Cut a circle out of clear plastic that fits inside your jar. You can get this plastic from anywhere, such as a plastic bottle, cup, packaging, etc. The plastic needs to be thin and clear, otherwise it will become visible once you add it to the oil. The circle doesn’t need to be perfect, but it needs to be small enough to fit inside your jar.
- If you are using a plastic bottle, cut the circle from the domed part. This will create a shallow cup and help it float better.
- Poke a hole in the middle of the circle, then cut a slit. Place the circle on top of a piece of craft foam, cardboard, or a piece of wood. Use a skewer, awl, or pair of manicure scissors to poke a hole in the middle of the circle. Next, use a craft blade or manicure scissors to make a small slit coming off of the hole. You can also make a small X over the hole instead.
- The hole must be centered, otherwise the wick may not stand upright.
- Insert the wick into the hole, then slide it into the slit. The bottom of the wick should be sticking out of the bottom of the plastic circle. If you cut an X into the plastic, it may already be stable enough. If it isn’t, slide the wick into one of the slits making up the X.
- If you cut the circle from a plastic bottle, the shorter end should be sticking out of the domed part of the circle; the longer end should be sticking out of the cupped part.
EditAssembling the Candle
- Pour water into the jar, leaving of space at the top. This will give you enough room for the oil. If you add too much water, the oil layer will be too thin, which will decrease the candle’s burning time as well as increase the chances of spills. You will also run the risk of the wick touching the water and extinguishing.
- Pour in the oil until it’s deep. Canola oil, olive oil, and sunflower oil are all great choices. You can even use lamp oil from the craft store. How much oil you use will depend on the size of your jar. The wider your jar is, the more oil you will need to use. Don’t worry if the oil mixes into the water at first; it will float to the top.
- Set the wick on top of the oil. Make sure that the longer part of the wick is sticking out of the oil, and the shorter part is in the oil. If the bottom of the wick is touching the water, add a little bit more oil. This way, you won’t risk the wick accidentally soaking up water and extinguishing the flame.
EditUsing the Candle
- Set the candle down onto a heat-safe surface. A metal tray, candle charger, or anything with a rim would be ideal. This way, if the candle accidentally gets knocked over, the burning oil will be contained. If you don’t have any of these on hand, set the candle down someplace where it won’t get bumped.
- Make sure that there are no open windows or vents near the candle.
- Light the wick. You can do this with a lighter, match, or stick lighter. Make sure that you only light the wick, otherwise the oil layer may also ignite. How long the candle lasts depends on how much oil you use. Typically, these types of candles can burn for up to 3 hours.
- Reduce smoke by trimming the wick to
- Handle the candle with care while it burns. Avoid moving the candle around once you light it, or you risk spilling the hot oil. Never leave a burning candle unattended. All it takes is a few seconds to blow it out.
- Extinguish the candle before leaving the room or adding more oil. You should blow the candle out whenever you leave the room. If the oil level starts to get too thin and the wick is touching the water, extinguish the candle, add more oil, then relight it.
- Maintain the water and oil levels. The water will evaporate over time, even if you are not using the candle. Each time you use the candle, check the water and oil levels first. Make sure that the oil layer is at least away from the decorations. If the oil is too close to them, add more water. If the oil level is too thin, then add more oil.
- Decorate the outside of the jar instead of the inside. Draw designs on it with puffy paint or dimensional fabric paint.
- Add some herbs or essential oils to your water to make it smell nice.
- The water will eventually start to look murky. How long this takes depends on how much sunlight it receives. When this happens, discard the water and clean the jar.
- For best results, use a clear oil. If you tinted your water, you can use a lamp oil that matches the color.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended or in a place where it could be knocked over.
- Do not touch the hot oil or move the candle after you light it.
EditThings You’ll Need
- Glass jar or candle holder
- Thin, clear plastic
- Birthday candle
- Skewer, awl, or manicure scissors
- Craft blade or manicure scissors
- Cooking oil or lamp oil
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