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How to Make Tea Cup Candles

Making candles is a fun hobby.  And, when you can recycle and repurpose items – that makes it even more enjoyable.  If you have ever enjoyed visiting a thrift or second-hand store, I’m sure you have seen many elegant mis-matched coffee or tea cups. With some wicking and a little wax, you can transform these donations into unique tea cup candles to use for décor or gifting.

Making Vintage Teacup Candles

Homemade tea cup candle with vintage design.

The beauty of this craft is that you will likely not have a complete “set” of the same kind of cups.  Instead, expect an eclectic combination of colors, styles and sizes. 

Shop around and you should be able to find some very inexpensive options. Isn’t it wonderful to give new life to these old items that seemed to be at the end of their purpose. 

They also serve as a link to the past when you see patterns that remind you of old dishes that your grandmother used.

Vintage tea cups, cotton wick sections and pieces of beeswax.

Materials Needed

You need only a few materials:

  • Vintage Tea Cups
  • Wax – beeswax (coconut oil – soy)
  • Wick

Choosing Tea Cups for Candles

You can make a candle in any type of tea cup.  But, when using beeswax (my favorite), a cup with a larger opening works best. 

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Keep in mind – the larger the cup, the more wax you will need. A deeper cup will work but as time goes on, reaching down into the cup to light the wick may be a problem.

Candle Wax

I love making beeswax candles because they are so bright and clean burning.   Beeswax has been used for making dipped candles for hundreds of years.

Today, many crafters use molds to craft beeswax candles into fun shapes.  And, the simplest way of making a beeswax candle is by rolling sheets. Even the kids can do these.

However, when working with container candles – pure beeswax can be a bit touchy.  The wax must be very clean of left-over honey, propolis, dirt, etc.  

If you have wax from your own beehives, or buy it from a local beekeeper – be sure to filter or clean the wax before making your project. Even if the wax looks clean, it may contain substances that will clog a wick and cause poor burning.

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I suggest you try one with pure beeswax and see how it goes.  But, try another with a mix of 50% beeswax and 50% coconut oil or soy wax.  It will still be a beautiful tea cup candle but you face fewer burning challenges.

Choosing a Wick

The wick is one of the most important parts of a candle but they are often over looked. Especially, when working with beeswax – the proper wick size must be used.

Braided cotton wicks seem to work best – but what size do you need?  Well, that depends on the size (width) of your candle. 

For the cups in this project that are around 3 – 3 1/2” wide – I am using a size 6 wick.  Size 7 would be better but they are hard to find.

Expert Tips

Gently heat your beeswax until it is in liquid form, it should not be overheated. Mixing beeswax with soy wax or coconut oil is often a practice used for a smoother burning candle.

Embellishments

Plain natural wax makes beautiful vintage tea cup candles. However, you can add wax colorants if you wish – just follow the directions on the type of colorant or candle dye that you choose.

To add scent, crafters can use essential oils or fragrance oil that is especially designed for candles. When using essential oils, I use about 30 drops per 5 oz of beeswax.

Pouring melted beeswax into cup to cover up cracked top.

Cracking

It is not unusual for a beeswax container candle to have cracks on the surface once it has cooled. This happens because beeswax shrinks as it cools. It is a hard wax with many wonderful properties.

Avoiding over-heating your beeswax can help reduce cracking. Another idea is to make your candle in a warm room where the wax is allowed to cool slowly.

However, if this happens – don’t panic, you can fix it. Either melt more wax and pour enough on top to cover up the crack – or use a heat gun or similar to melt the surface of the existing candle so that the liquid flows into the cracks.

Tunneling around the wick in a beeswax cup candle.

Tunneling

Tunneling is one of the most aggravating parts of candle making. When this happens, the candle burns downward in a column around the wick. It is unsightly and wasteful as much of the wax is not used.

The two most common reasons for tunneling are:

  • wrong wick size
  • improper burning

This is another reason to test your wick size and wax with one test candle before making a lot of them. You may need to make adjustments.

As for improper burning ( I am very guilty of this) – avoid burning your container candle for short periods of time. Ideally, let the tea cup candle burn for one hour for each inch of diameter.

You want a large pool of melted wax to form across the top of the cup before extinguishing the flame. This encourages the melt pool to continue to be large as the candle burns down.

It is so easy to make these amazing tea cup candles and they make a great gift. Place them on a matching or complimentary saucer – glue in place and all you need to do is add a ribbon. And you are ready for the next birthday or bridal shower.

Lit beeswax candle in an old cup.

DIY Tea Cup Candle Tutorial

Charlotte Anderson @ Carolina Honeybees, LLC
Be a part of the recycling generation. Bring vintage tea cup back to life with some beeswax and a little wick. An elegant way to reuse dishes that were nearing the end of their usefulness.
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Tools

Supplies
 

  • 3 tea cups
  • 18" cotton wick size 6
  • 1 pound beeswax
  • 3 wooden skewers or similar

Instructions
 

  • Cut the required amount of wick for each candle. Mine measured about 6". You need enough to reach the bottom of the cup and a couple of inches to wrap around the wooden sticks at the top.
    Sometimes, I just wrap the wick around the skewer – sometimes I add a clothespin to hold the wick in place.
    Measuring wick for cup candle and setting the holder.
  • Begin to melt your beeswax in the double boiler or other safe method. Take the wicks off the cups and pull them straight.
    Drop them into the melted wax and let the air inside bubble out. This is called – "pickling the wick".
    After a minute or so, use a skewer to remove the wicks from the hot wax. Be careful, they will be hot but they do cool quickly. Stretch them out straight to cool.
    Sections of cotton candle wick in melted beeswax.
  • Set the cool wick back into the cup with it held in place at the top. Be sure to have the wick in the center of the cup.
    When enough beeswax is melted to fill your cup – it is time to pour. Fill the cup with melted wax to just below the lip within a quarter of an inch of cup top.
  • Leave tea cups on a level table to cool and set. Once they are solid, remove the skewer at the top and cut off the excess wicking. Before burning, trim the wick to about 1/4 inch.
    Old teacup filled with beeswax for candle ready for wick trim.

Notes

Expert Tips
  • don’t overheat your beeswax – be safe
  • use the right size wick for the diameter of your cup
  • when burning – be sure to burn the candle until a large wax pool has formed before putting it out
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