Craft Project – How to Make Shell Candles
I saw a picture of this shell candle project online a while ago, pinned it and like with so many then forgot to go back to it. Saw it again yesterday while looking through my account for a home ed art/craft idea and decided to give it a try. I have a large box of shells that I have collected over the years. I collected these when we lived near the sea and thought they would be perfect. Any shell that has a bowl like shape should work out fine. The whole project took me less than an hour to complete so it really is a nice, easy and not too time consuming craft to try out. I did it myself but it could also be done with a child, just as long as care is taken with the hot wax.
I decided to use some vanilla scented tea light candles that I had but these could be made using bought wax pellets and wicks. The shell candles could also be made using leftover bits of other candles. If you are using wax pellets or candle scraps you will need to buy fairly short wicks to go with them. I reused the wicks from my tea lights and they have worked out fine. That was another advance to using the readymade tea lights, as I do have some wax pellets but no wicks. This post has instructions based on using tea lights but the steps are very similar whatever source of wax you have.
Making Shell Candles using Tea lights
- I used six tea lights to make my candles but the amount of wax needed will depend on how large and deep your shells are.
- Remove all of the packaging, including the metal tray.
- Break the candles into a microwave safe bowl or other container. The container should be easy to pour from or it may be difficult to transfer the wax to your shells. As you remove the wicks check for any glue as some are stuck down. Remove this and discard.
- Place the wicks into your shells. Try to position them as centrally as possible. This helps to ensure that the finished candle will burn evenly.
- Heat the wax in a microwave, in 30 second increments. Timings may vary depending on your microwave and wax. My 800 watt microwave took two minutes. Once the wax is almost melted you can simply stir it for a short time to finish melting the last small pieces.You could also melt your wax in a pan on your hob over a gently heat. I chose the microwave as it’s quick; I could use a disposable container and didn’t have to worry about any possible damage to my cooking pans or about cooking food in them afterwards. I really should buy a cheap crafts only saucepan for these kinds of projects. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for years but always forget!
Depending on the shape of your shells you may find that you need to support them to stop the wax spilling. This is just until the wax has hardened. I used the metal containers from the tea lights to do this.
If a shell is very unstable it may be best not to use it, as it may be hard to burn it safely. When being burnt the shell candles will need to be placed on a heatproof surface. This could be a glass, stone or metal candle plate or if appropriately shaped a tea light or other candle holder.
Do not worry too much about spills of wax or if any is on the outside of the shells. This can be mopped up with kitchen towels now or is easy to remove once hardened.
Leave the candles in a safe place until the wax is completely hard. The time list takes is dependent on various factors such as the heat in the room. Once it has begun to harden you should find that you can move the candles and they will not need supporting to prevent the wax spilling out. The wax I spilt came off the table easily using a plastic modelling tool (for clay). I wasn’t happy with how one of my shell candles looked so once the wax was hardish but not completely hard I used the modelling tool to gently scrape away the excess. I also added a small amount of melted wax to the dip in that candle. I used a small piece from the spillage and gently added it the shell candle.
My candles were dry enough to feel hard and not spill within 20 minutes but I left them overnight to be sure they were dried all the way through. Other than the top centre one, they all stand up pretty well by themselves now. This is due to the wax helping to balance them out. However it’s best to place the shell candles on a safe surface before lighting, just as you would any candle. It will also make any spills of wax easier to clean. I will use a glass candle plate when burning mine. However, I really like the candles and feel like they are too sweet to light! I can’t see any reason why the shells won’t be okay to use again with fresh wax and wicks once these are burned down. I am wondering if the shell will be weakened by the heat but guess I will have to wait and see and experiment carefully.