Christmas will be here before we know it! So I’m beginning a blog series on inexpensive Christmas gifts you can create yourself easily. Today’s gift craft tutorial is homemade DIY teacup candles made with recycled wax and wicks. Both the vintage teacups and the candles themselves come from the thrift store, costing me just 75 cents per teacup candle. This is an easy project you can do it a short afternoon at home. And they look so charming, don’t you think? I know I would love to receive this as a gift! Candles are ALWAYS welcome at my home.
Materials for DIY Teacup Candles
(Some of the linked items below are Amazon affiliate links for your convenience. I heart Amazon!)
- Old and/or vintage teacups with saucers
- Old candles in similar colors and types* (or buy soy wax flakes + wicks + candle dye + candle scent — or this candlemaking kit)
- Double Boiler (make a DIY double boiler or buy one here)
- Clothespins or kabob skewer sticks
- Thermometer (only needed if adding scent)
* A Word About Candle Wax:
The great thing about re-using old candles for DIY teacup candles is you won’t need to buy wicks, dye, or scent (unless you want to change or enhance the scent of the old candles). This is because you can rescue the wicks from the old candles and re-use them! This is a BIG money saver. But most old candles will be paraffin wax, and while recycling is always good, paraffin isn’t the eco-friendly choice. If you prefer, you can get soy wax flakes which do not smoke when burned. I also really recommend beeswax, because it gives off a lovely, sweet smell when you burn your candle.
If you do re-use and upcycle old candles, be sure get similar colors and similar types. You don’t want to mix paraffin wax with beeswax or soy wax. If you’re not sure what type of wax is in a particular candle, rest assured it’s likely any old candle you find in a thrift store is paraffin (soy wax only became a thing in 1991). Beeswax tends to be yellow and smell a bit like honey. Soy wax tends to be softer than paraffin wax, as it has a lower melting point.
How much wax per teacup? Each teacup uses about two candlesticks of wax! If you buy soy flakes, you’ll need .25 lbs. (125 grams) per teacup. If you’re not sure how much your wax weighs, keep this rule in mind — you will use about twice as much wax as what fills your cup before the wax is melted.
Where to Find Teacups and Old Candles
I found both old teacups with saucers and old candles at my local thrift store. The teacups were 50 cents and the candles were four for $1. I got lucky and found Wedgwood teacups! I chose an all-white teacup pattern because I thought it would work better for a Christmas theme, but the lovely vintage pastels with gold rims are lovely too. Thrift stores are definitely the best place for vintage tea cups. If you have no good thrift stores near you, check eBay — I just checked and see lots of old teacups for as low as $1 each. Another good place to check for old teacups and candles are garage sales and yard sales! You can also find vintage teacups on Etsy, but the prices are not as low.
DIY Teacup Candles Step-by-Step Tutorial
Step 1: Prepare your wax. If you bought wax, I guess you just open the bag! But if you’re re-using old candles, you need to carefully break them into smaller chunks and pull out the wicks. If you have a problem breaking the wax, use a knife to score along one side (don’t cut the wick if you can help it), then break. Alexander and I worked together and made short work of eight old candlesticks! Put the similar color wax in your melting bowl or cup, and set the wicks aside.
Step 2. Melt your wax. Put water in your double boiler then set your bowl or cup of wax in the boiler. If you recycled old candles and some wicks got stuck, you can always fish them out later. If you purchased new soy wax flakes, stir them frequently. If you plan to dye and/or scent your wax, this is the time to do it! It’s recommended that you wait until your wax is 180°F before you add any scent to avoid it simply disappearing, however (this is why you need a thermometer if your are scenting your wax).
Step 3. Once your wax is melted, pour it carefully into your teacup. I found the bowl was hard to pour from without making a mess, so after I took this photo I poured it into a smaller container and used that to pour into my teacup. Pour the wax into your teacup about 1/2″ from the top.
Note: The above photo is a wee blurry — sorry! Alexander took it and he’s still learning to use the big camera. Also note that in the photo my glass bowl is making a red waxy mess. It was a simple matter to scrape this wax off, however, so don’t worry if you make a mess.
Step 4. Immediately after you pour your wax in, place your wick into the teacup. You want the wick to go in straight down — stop when you touch the bottom. Now use your clothespins or kebab sticks to hold it in place while the wax cools and solidifies.
Step 5: Wait 4-6 hours for your wax to cool before you attempt to burn the wick. When cooled, snip off any excess wick (leave about 1″) and you are finished with your homemade DIY teacup candles!
DIY Teacup Candles Tips
Wondering how I got that cute heart in my DIY teacup candles? I simply waited until the wax was fairly cooled but still malleable (approx. one hour after pouring into the teacup). Then I gently scooped out some wax in the shape of a heart about 1/2″ deep. I waited a little while longer to make sure the wax was cooling nicely (about 1/2 hour to 1 hour), then I poured white wax into the heart-shaped hole. Voila! (I did try to do this with a cookie cutter instead, but it didn’t work well as the wax would melt at the bottom and gradually fill up the hole inside the cookie cutter.)
Feel free to experiment! You could put in some interesting scent, glitter, or even some beads or pearls in your DIY teacup candles!
If you use paraffin wax, you can add chopped or grated crayons for color!
DIY Teacup Candles Notes
Sometimes, depending on your wax, you might get a weird little dip in the center after it cools a bit. If this happens and you don’t like how it looks, just melt more wax and pour a thin layer of wax over the top. This solves that problem! (This happened with one of the four teacup dandles I made today.)
Do not use alcohol or water-based fragrance to scent candles. You need OIL-based fragrance for it to work and smell nice.
Soy wax candles have unusual properties compared to paraffin or beeswax. For example, the wax can sometimes pull away from the sides of the teacup — this happened with my white candles. If this happens, pour another thin layer of wax after the first pour has cooled a bit. This will fill in the sides and give the top a nice, level appearance.
Want to use your glass bowl/measuring cup for something other than candle wax? Immediately wash it! If you don’t wash it right away, it’s really hard to get that wax off later.
You can keep the cup stuck to the saucer by putting a little soft wax on the bottom of your teacup and pressing down firmly on the saucer.
Consider a gold or silver Sharpie to accentuate or personalize your DIY teacup candle to your recipient!
These teacup candles are great for Christmas gifts, but they’d also be fun for Valentine’s Day gifts, Mother’s Day gifts, bridal shower gifts, baby shower gifts, hostess gifts, and housewarming gifts.
Remember, burning candles should always attended. Keep burning candles away from flammable materials, children, and pets.
Christmas Gift-Making Series
Please watch for more fun tutorials to help you make wonderful homemade and inexpensive gifts this year! I plan tutorials on some of our favorites, such as personalized mugs, DIY candy cane spoons for coffee/hot cocoa, and beeswax ornaments!
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Did you make some DIY teacup candles? Please share your experiences with us here!