Quick and Easy Bucket Candles for Summer

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I may have mentioned a few times that we recently completely renovated our backyard. I’ll probably share a full roundup of that big event next week, but in the meantime we’ve been adding a few accessories to the yard, mostly in the form of lighting options.

While husband and I were in Kansas City last weekend we happened upon Sur la Table (love!) where we picked up a bunch of grill toys and talked about candles in galvanized buckets.

galvanized bucket candles

I used to make candles quite a bit, but it’s been years, mostly because we had a baby, and who lights candles around a baby? Or a toddler?

I got excited about the idea of making candles again, so I went to the craft store and got a few buckets and some wick made for container candles (I probably had something that would work in my stash, but I wanted to make sure I used the right thing). Because I had plenty of wax in my supply stash, these were all the materials I had to buy (except for some cedar oil, which we’ll get to in a minute).

Admittedly if you don’t have a stash of candle making supplies this will be a spendier project, but if you have the basics already, you can make these for about $4 a pop. Sweet.

Check out more ways to use essential oils in the home.

My Candle Making Setup

Since I haven’t written about candles lately, if ever, I thought I’d tell you how I go about doing it, just in case you want to start making candles.

candle making setup
Wax melting on my burner.

I have an electric burner and a basic pot that I bought years ago at Walmart. I stole a cutting board and a cheap sharp knife from the kitchen. All of these are things that are just used for candles, not for food.

I do my work on the kitchen counter, which I cover with newspapers. I have marble countertops, so I can just peel any wax off if any should happen to get on there.

You really don’t need a lot to get started, and it’s a lot of fun, so I hope you’ll try it!

What You’ll Need

In addition to the basics, you’ll need

  • galvanized buckets: mine are 6 inches across at the top
  • wax: if you can find or have wax that’s especially for container candles, that would be better. I don’t know exactly what I used, but it was the end of a slab from GenWax, which I bought so long ago they don’t even sell wax at GenWax anymore (check their site Candle Making Supplies if you want).You’ll need a pound to a pound and a half per bucket of this size, depending on how high you fill it (I left a couple inches at the top of mine, so you may need as much as 2 pounds if you want it fuller.)
  • wick: choose some that is for large container candles (also not an affiliate link)
  • wick holder tabs if they didn’t come with your wick
  • essential oils: because these candles are meant to be used outside, I wanted to include some pest-repellent oils that wouldn’t be too repellent to people. I ended up using about 20 drops per candle of rosemary and cedar oils.
  • a couple of wooden skewers

What You’ll Do

  1. Break up the wax a bit so it will fit in your pan. You may have to do it in batches, which is actually good since candles usually need “topping off” after cooling.
  2. Plug in your burner and turn it on low. Don’t walk away. (OK, if you’re in the kitchen you can unload the dishwasher or something. But stay close.) You can stir it gently while it’s melting if you want. It will take a few minutes. While it’s melting, put in your essential oils.
  3. In the meantime, cut your wick so that it’s long enough to stick out the top of the bucket and insert into one of the wick holder tabs. All you do is slide the wick into the hole and push it closed. Put the wick in the bucket, as centered as you can. Use the skewers to hold the wick straight.
bucket candle
Melted wax in the bucket.
  • Once the wax is completely melted, turn off the burner and unplug it (yes, I do this before I pour).
  • Pour the wax into the bucket. I keep the bucket on top of my cutting board while I’m pouring for extra protection.
  • Re-center the wick and allow to cool.
  • Once it’s cool, you’ll probably want to melt and pour in a little more wax to take care of the dent that will likely form in the center of your candle.
  • Trim the wick before burning.bucket candles
  • I think these will be a great addition to our new backyard, and we’ll get to test them out this weekend.

    Have you ever made candles before? If you haven’t, I really hope you’ll give it a try. It’s lots of fun. I kind of feel like I’m going to be making a lot of candles here for a little while!

    If you have or haven’t made candles before and have questions or projects you’d like to see, please let me know!

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    1. Please check out candlewic.com too for a great supply of candle making supplies and equipment such as kits, waxes, fragrances and so much more!

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    3. Can I use painted metal tins buckets for the candles? Or is the paint dangerous withheld flames? I bought them already painted. Thanks.

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