I reached wayyyyy back into my childhood for this DIY ice candles tutorial! I made these beautiful ice candles with my mom as gifts for family and friends one Christmas. And then again when I was tasked with “selling a product” in grade school (foreshadowing of Etsy, much?) BTW - the $40 for materials (namely wax, glitter, ice, and modge podge) can make you WAY more than 2 candles - I ordered a 10 lb bag of wax that could easily make 10+ of these, if not more. (Head to my blog for more fun DIY projects and home decorating ideas! I'd love to have you as a subscriber and member of the Fiddle Leaf fam!)
DIY Ice Candles
*DISCLAIMER: Please exercise caution when attempting this project. Wax and water should never be mixed, and remember that wax is highly flammable. Tackled this DIY at your own risk.*
Step 1: I used a makeshift double boiler situation for melting my wax, but if you have an actual double boiler, go for it! I filed a large saute pan with water and turned the stove on high. Next, I scooped wax pellets into my Pyrex glass measuring cup (about 4/5 full). Carefully place the Pyrex into your water/saute pan.
Step 2: Bring your water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Step 3: While your wax melts (it does take some time), prep your milk cartons. Cut off the tops of the cartons (ours were half gallon but you can use smaller cartons to make mini candles as well) using your utility knife.
Step 4: Many candle kits, including the I used, come with wick centering devices, but they often are not long enough for the milk carton widths. So I created my own! Dab a bit of hot glue on the top of your wick and attach it to the center of an old pen or pencil. (A pen that’s out of ink is a good option!) Allow to dry. Cut the metal piece off of the bottom of your wick – you don’t need it.
Step 5: Check on your wax. I used a kabob stick to stir it at it began to melt. The wax will also become more compact as it melts, so you can add a bit more to top it off. I found that just about 5 cups melted filled my carton perfectly.
Step 6: Use your foam brush to dab a bit of Modge Podge on the inside edges of your carton. Coat with glitter. Modge Podge is not flammable, and it’s really just there to hold the glitter in place so that it transfers to the wax well. By doing this, my second candle came out with a LOT more glitter than the first, where I just sprinkled the glitter into the carton as I went. If you are not comfortable with the step for some reason, just don't do it - your candle will still be beautiful and the glitter will shine through when you light it.
Step 7: Fill a freezer bag about 2/3 full with your ice. Place on a hard surface on top of a towel. Use a hammer to break some of the ice pieces into smaller chunks. You want them to be smaller than the ice in the package you bought, but not crushed ice status. A medium size is the best for a good stable candle.If your wax is not yet melted, place your ice bag back in the freezer so it doesn’t melt. The hammer may have created some holes in the bag, so just be careful while you transfer it.Once your wax IS fully melted, carefully remove the Pyrex measuring cup full of wax from the saute pan using a hot pad. Place it on a towel or other heat resistant surface. Allow to cool for 30 seconds.
Step 8: Place your wick down into the middle of your carton, with the pen/pencil laying across the top. Pull your ice out of the freezer if needed, and add about 1/4 full of ice to your carton. Make sure to keep your wick as close to the center as possible. Now, sprinkle the glitter colors of your choice onto the ice, aiming to get it on the sides (so it shows more). Add another 1/4 of ice on top, and repeat the step with the glitter. Repeat until your carton is about 2/3-3/4 full of ice and glitter.
Step 9: Carefully pour your wax (don’t worry, it will still be plenty hot and in liquid form) into your carton. I recommend doing this in the sink if possible – just be sure to collect any dried wax after the fact so it does not go down the drain. If you have a drain plug, this is a great time to use it! Be sure to pour your wax so that it is about 1/2″ to 1″ above the top of the ice. This helps stabilize your candle. Add some glitter to top it off, and then let dry for about 10-15 minutes.
Step 10: Once the wax hard hardened (10-15 minutes), carefully tear away the milk carton. You do NOT want to wait to remove the carton much longer than this because the water from the melting ice will have nowhere to escape to! Once the carton is fully removed, leave in the sink overnight to dry, or place on a large plate so the water has a place to drain.Once fully dry, trim the top of your wick to about 1/4″, light, and enjoy!
NOTE: These candles tend to burn conically (in a cone down the center), so just keep an eye on them once they get close to the bottom. Occasionally, you will get one that burns down one side instead, in which case it may need to be places on a plate or platform while it burns to catch the wax. But each candle is unique and the glitter and holes from the ice are just stunning as the candle burns!I hope you enjoyed this fun take on candle making! I remember having so much fun making this with my mom as a kid – I hope this craft brings some of the same joy to you!Hope to see you over on the BLOG!