How to Make Picture Candles

Updated February 21, 2017

Custom images instantly tailor candles to the theme of a wedding, art show or other special event. Give a candle with a photo of someone's individual pet rather than an artist's interpretation of the breed or a generic multi-breed dog. Even if you do not know how to pour candles, you may create the effect with a photo copy of the selected image and découpage adhesive. For experienced candle-makers, dip the picture in wax as a part of the candle creating process.

Choose a candle. Pillar or hurricane-style candles provide a larger work surface than a taper or votive.

Prepare the work surface. Lay newspaper on a flat surface. Alternatively, cut up a brown paper bag and tape it to the table. Stabilise the candle. Place a pink eraser for makeshift stoppers at each side of the candle. Two pencils or chopsticks taped to the table also prevent the candle from rolling.

Photocopy the desired image. Do not use an original photo. Cut around the edges of the part of the image you would like to show.

Brush the outside of the candle with découpage fluid. Before the adhesive dries, place the image on the candle exactly where you want it to appear.

Work out the bubbles with your fingers, pressing from the middle of the image to the ends. For a long, wraparound image, start at one side and continue to the end.

Add a coat of the adhesive over the top of the glued image. It may appear white, but will dry clear. Allow the paper to dry for at least ten minutes. Then, apply another coat to the entire outside surface of the candle.

Burn the candle, but do not burn it down until the sides collapse. Wait until a reservoir appears in the middle. Blow out the candle. Once the wax cools, add a tea light to the centre. The light flickers from behind the image, but does not melt the sides.

Choose a wax with a high melting point, preferably 65.6C or higher. This way, the flame does not melt the sides or damage the image. Melt the wax between 85 and 87.8 degrees C. Use a double-boiler on the stove.

Coat the inside of your candle mould with cooking spray. Wipe excess with a napkin or paper towel. Fill the mould with wax.

Position the picture inside the mould with the image facing out. Press the image as close to the outside of the mould as possible with a preheated cooking spoon. Choose wood or metal over plastic. Plastic may warp or melt.

Rinse a towel in cold water. Press it to the outside of the mould near the image. The contrast in temperatures accelerates wax hardening around the photo.

Place the mould into a bucket or bowl of cold water. The candle wax begins to harden from the outside in. Speed up the process with ice water. For a hurricane-style candle with a hollow centre, remove the mould when the wax hardens to the desired thickness. For a solid candle, leave it in the water bath longer.

Pour excess wax out of the mould and into a dish or pouring bucket. Place the mould in a cooler or refrigerator.

Remove the candle from the mould. Tip it on its top onto a baking tray or cutting board. If the candle top appears bumpy, warm up a frying pan or electric griddle. Gently touch the top edge to slightly melt and smooth the top edge out.

Place a votive inside the candle shell. If you made a solid candle, melt the candle to accommodate a tea light or votive.


Keep a fire extinguisher accessible when melting wax.

Things You'll Need

  • Pillar candle
  • Newspaper or paper bag
  • Pink erasers or pencils
  • Tape
  • Photo or other image
  • Photocopier and paper
  • Découpage fluid
  • Brush
  • Tea lights
  • Double boiler
  • Candle mould
  • Candle wax
  • Cooking spray
  • Kitchen spoon
  • Wet towel
  • Bucket of cold water
  • Bowl or bucket for wax
  • Baking tray or cutting board
  • Frying pan or electric griddle.
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