Your Guide to Buying Handmade Candles

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Your Guide to Buying Handmade Candles

Hand-crafted candles have been providing comfort and relaxation to people for thousands of years. The earliest examples were found in ancient Egypt – over 3,000 years ago. Produced from animal fat, these early candles were one of Egypt’s primary sources of lighting. Historians also believe that ancient Chinese and Japanese civilisations made primitive wax candles from ground insects and the seeds of trees. Ancient Indian candles were produced from boiling cinnamon and various other spices in water. The use of candles in the home has changed significantly during the last one hundred years. They were once used as an essential source of light in homes before the advent of domestic electricity. However, their special properties make them ideal for relaxing, circulating desirable aromas and creating a unique ambience. The vast majority of candles on the market in the UK are mass-produced in large-scale production facilities. While they may be cheap, they often lack in aesthetic appeal. A hand-crafted candle has a story behind it, and it often strikes a personal chord. Although people should expect to pay a little more for a handmade candle, they will own something that serves a practical purpose at the same time as looking fantastic in the home. There are countless designs to choose from, but there are a few facts to keep in mind to ensure that only the highest-quality candles are bought. Buying handmade candles should involve quality before price. Don’t make the mistake of buying the cheapest candles available, as that can be a false-economy. Cheaper wax and wicks may burn far too hot and quickly, and that can result in very short overall burning times. Thankfully, the majority of handmade candles are produced with quality ingredients, so they often prove to be cost-effective purchases.

The Manufacturing Process

The making of basic candles is actually quite a simple process; however, the skill comes in creating beautiful and original designs. Wax is melted at a high temperature, and it is then poured into custom-made moulds with wicks already in place. Scents and dyes can be added during the process, and a pain-staking method of releasing air bubbles ensures that the candles look great and burn well.

The Various Types of Wax

It is often not known that there are several different varieties of candle-wax, and they all offer different qualities and benefits. Whether the candles are intended for a dinner table or for general ambience, selecting the right wax is essential if the candles are to deliver the required effect.

Paraffin Wax

Paraffin wax is the most commonly-used substance in the candle-making process. However, the environmental wisdom of using petroleum in candles is often questioned. The fuel is heated at very high temperatures, and wax becomes separated from the crude oils. There is some concern that burning this wax in candles releases toxins and soot into the surrounding atmosphere, but the amounts involved are negligible.

Soy Wax

Taken from soya beans, soy wax is becoming increasingly popular at the moment. It is renewable, and it is considered to be more environmentally friendly than paraffin wax. Soy candles create up to 90 per cent less soot than paraffin candles, and they burn at a much slower rate.

Palm Wax

Palm wax is taken from the palm fruit, and it offers properties and benefits similar to those delivered by soy wax. Candles made from this wax burn cleanly, and they create virtually no smoke. They are much harder than paraffin candles, so they generally burn for far longer. However, it is worth checking that palm wax candles have been manufactured with ecologically sound wax. Many unscrupulous producers are clearing large swathes of forest in order to harvest the substance.


There is a shortage of bees and bee-keepers in the UK at the moment, so the price of beeswax candles is high. There are several advantages to be gained from beeswax candles, however, so they are usually worth the premium paid for them. These candles burn more slowly than any other varieties, they produce no smoke and they create very little drip.

The Most Popular Types of Handmade Candles

The use of candles is apt for almost any occasion, however, the careful placement of handmade candles throughout the home adds something a lot more special than mass-produced varieties do. While any list of handmade candles is not exhaustive, there are some very popular varieties around at the moment.

Floating Candle

Floating candles have to be short enough to remain upright when they are floating. They look very effective in outdoor pools and garden-ponds, and they are particularly popular with people planning outdoor parties and barbecues.

Pillar Candle

Pillar candles are among the most popular handmade candles available in the UK. They are thick and substantial, and they can normally stand without a holder. They are often hand-rolled, so they can sometimes feature more than one colour.

Container Candle

Container candles are usually designed to create pleasant aromas within the home. A candle is contained within a jar, pot or tin, and it is designed to burn inside the container at all times.

Votive Candle

These candles are burned in small votive holders, and they are perfect for use with a hot bath. They are usually only between two and three inches tall, so they are sturdy and reliable.

Tealight Candle

Tealight candles are ideal for placing around the home, as they completely liquify, and they will emit a strong and far-reaching scent for as long as they burn. They are also perfect for dining tables, as the melted wax is kept within the candle’s small, cylindrical base.

Taper Candle

This is what would be considered to be the classic candle. Often referred to as dinner candles, they are slender, elegant and can be twenty inches in height. The best taper candles are hand-dipped, and more elaborate designs and colours are often hand-rolled.

Aromatherapy Candles

These candles are bought predominantly for their scents, as they are found to be intensely relaxing and therapeutic.

Wickless Candles

Wickless candles do not burn with naked flames. Instead they are gently heated in purpose-made warming units. The wax slowly melts and emits a pleasant fragrance around a room. These candles are an excellent choice if small children are in the home.

Unique Candle Designs

Homemade candle-makers are continually coming up with increasingly intricate and detailed designs. Many hand-crafted examples are being purchased as stand-alone ornaments and fashion accessories, as they are as beautiful as any work of ornamental pottery.

Cupcake Candles

These candles are ideal for baby showers, weddings, and children’s parties. Many of the best examples often look like the real thing.

Flower Candles

There are some stunning examples of rose-petal candles on the market that make ideal decorations for wedding receptions.

Fruit Candles

Fruit candles are hand-sculpted in order to resemble the fruit their scents signify. Pears and oranges are very popular at the moment.

Additives to Watch For

There will generally be fewer artificial additives used in handmade candles than in mass-produced varieties. However, in order to create desirable effects and properties, there may still be some additives to check for before making an informed decision on the purchase of a particular candle. Wherever possible, it is best to opt for candles with natural additives. Hardening agents are common in the production of candles. Stearic acid is naturally found in animal fats and vegetable oils, so consumers looking for natural ingredients should always check the list of ingredients to ensure it is being used. The other main use of additives is to raise the melting point of the wax which prolongs the candle’s life. Microcrystalline candle additive is most commonly used; however, it is created from petroleum, and that can create extra smoke.

Finding Homemade Candles on eBay

The eBay website is home to thousands of hand-crafted candles of many different varieties, and finding them is very simple. Clicking on the All Categories drop-down menu will provide a number of categories to choose from. The Home, Furniture & DIY category should be selected, and then the ‘search’ button should be clicked. A Search of the categories on the left of the page should be conducted in order to find Home decor. A further Categories menu will be displayed on the left side of the page, and Candles & Tea Lights should be clicked. There will then be a range of categories to choose from to narrow the search. Alternatively, simply type ‘homemade candles’ into search text box near the top of the page.


Candles are hugely versatile, and the latest production techniques make elaborate and intricate designs a real possibility. Candles can deliver atmospheric lighting that is simply not possible with standard electric light sources, and they are becoming increasingly popular as features to furnish and enhance the home. Candles are also great at slowly releasing pleasant aromas around a room, and many people buy them for their relaxing properties. However, perhaps the biggest benefit delivered by handmade candles is the story behind them. A beautiful creation that is the product of a person’s skill and imagination provides a special candle that machines simply can’t replicate.

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