Wax Formulas For Container Candles

By Bob Sherman

Wax formulas or recipes as they are sometimes called can be quite confusing to beginners. In this article I will explain various ingredients and offer wax formulas I have had success with for making container candles.

PLEASE NOTE!! - Candle making can be dangerous if proper safety procedures are not followed. Please read these Safety Rules before attempting any candle making projects.

What Is A Container Candle?

Any candle in a self contained holder can be considered a container candle. The vast majority are made in glass, however other materials are sometimes used such as metal or terra cotta. The important thing is that the container be a non flammable material and not prone to leaking hot wax.

Glass is the easiest to use and the most popular. Contrary to popular belief, there is no special type of glass for candle making. Glass is formed at very high temperatures - far higher than a candle could ever hope to attain. The main thing when selecting glass is to avoid any that have scratches or chips since the stress of the heat will often cause the flaws to crack. Use only glass that shows no sign of any damage.

Terra cotta flower pots are popular for container candles, but there is some danger when burning if not prepared correctly - see Flower Pot Candles if these interest you.

Metal tins are sometimes used, but if these are not seamless, the seams should be sealed with silicone caulk before using.

Flammable containers such as wood should never be used. Don't email me that you saw them in a store - there are candle makers that are either stupid or just don't care - but you don't have to copy them.

What Makes A Good Container Candle?

Generally a well made container candle contains a soft wax formula and has a wick suitable for that formula / candle diameter combination in a safe, non flammable container. This will provide a candle that has:

Paraffin Wax

The main ingredient. Paraffin wax is a complex molecule that is created at oil refineries by fractional distillation. The general assumption is that wax is wax, however the reality is that no two waxes are identical and they even vary slightly from one batch to the next from the same manufacturer.

Although on the surface that last statement does not seem too significant, the implications have an enormous bearing on your candle making:

The most important factor with wax is to find one that works well for you and stick with it. Every time you change waxes, you will need to test your formulas and wick sizes.


If you are making scented candles, scent oil will affect your wax formula and usually the wick size needed as well. Scent oil will make the wax slightly softer and lower the viscosity (thickness) of the melted wax. The main implication of this is that you may need a different wick size for scented and unscented candles made with the same wax formula.

Some important things to know about scent oils:


Container candles should always be colored with candle dyes. Pigments or crayons should never be used as they will clog the wick.


Always use a cored wick in container candles. Cored wick is used for two main reasons:

See my Wick Selection Guide for information about choosing the correct wick.

Container Wax Formula #1
This formula is what I use.

Note: Vybar based formulas are more opaque and require slightly more dye to attain the same depth of color.

Container Wax Formula #2
This Stearic based formula is what I used before Vybar was widely available. It is rather old fashioned and dates back to when I started making candles in the 1970s. Stearic is more expensive to use, however it is slightly easier to obtain - especially outside the U.S. Stearic based formulas will not hold as much scent oil and will not retain their scent as well as Vybar based formulas. Stearic based formulas are less opaque, and do not inhibit oil mottling (snowflakes).

Stearic based formulas are inferior in nearly every way to Vybar based formulas. The one exception is if you are intentionally making mottled candles because Vybar will inhibit the mottling reaction.

Candle Making Supplies

The following candle making supplies are what I use to make container candles. Clicking on the item name will bring you to that item's page with a full description and ordering information.

Paraffin Wax

Additives (Vybar, Stearic)

Dye Blocks

Dye Flakes

Scent Oils

Zinc Core Wick

Pre Tabbed Zinc Core Wick

Melting / Pouring Pot


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Disclaimer: The information presented here is accurate to the best of my knowledge and common candle making practices as of the time of this writing Originally published in May 2007 and updated in July 2011. The author and the publisher accept no liability for the use or misuse of any of the information presented in this article. This article is presented for informational purposes and is used at your own risk.

Author: Bob Sherman

Publisher: Bobby's Craft Boutique Inc.

This article is provided free of charge for use. Candles may be made and sold using this design royalty free, however no portion of this article may be reproduced for publication elsewhere without express permission from Bobby's Craft Boutique Inc. with the following exceptions: