How to Make Floating Candles


Holland Park Garden Centre, 2010

Hamilton, Ontario Garage Sale, 2007  (fruit not included)

Structube, 2009

I have what some people would refer to as an unhealthy relationship with bowls.  I mean, those people are idiots, but I understand their concern.  I don’t wanna kiss bowls or anything … it’s isn’t *that* kind of unhealthy relationship; I just LOVE them.  They’re my decorative crutch.  Don’t know what to put on the coffee table?  Stick a bowl on it.  Dining room table drab?  Probably needs a bowl.  Kitchen needs a bit of personality?  Bowl.  Looking for a cutting edge haircut?  Bowl.

I have the same curious relationship with candles.  I love them.  A lot.  Sometimes I *do* kiss my candles.  There isn’t a single night all year long that I don’t have candles burning.  Either on the fireplace mantle, or on the dining room table during dinner, or scented candles in the kitchen.

It all goes back to when I was 4 years old and my mother bought me a pillar birthday candle that had age markings on the side.   1 year at the top, all the way down to 13 years at the bottom.  Every birthday I got to burn my candle down a full year.   To this day I remember that candle.  I do not remember a single present I got from the age of 4 – 17.

I do remember what I got for my birthday when I was 17.  It was a Royal Doulton figurine called “Sweet 17”.  I wanted bondage pants.  You can see why I’d remember this particular gift.

So ….

I love bowls and I love candles.  It was only a matter of time before I realized I could stick the two together and create something I loved even more. Candles that float in bowls.  It’s my version of dropping a bar of chocolate into a jar of peanut butter.

I realize a floating candle isn’t exactly revolutionary, but the fact that you can make them out of candles you might already own is.


Part I

Get a standard candle in a rounded glass holder.

This one was $1 and it’s coconut scented.

I have several in my cupboard.  I seem to collect these types of candles for some reason. I have a ton of them.

If you ignore the glass surrounding the candle you can see the candle is the perfect shape for a floating candle.

It’s very wide and flat across the top and narrower and rounded on the bottom.

But what to do about getting it out of that pesky glass container?

Heat some water in a pot on the stove.

Once it barely starts to simmer, remove the pot from the stove.

Drop your candle into the pot of hot water.

Well … place would probably be a better word.  Place your candle in the pot of hot water.

Make sure the water is up to the wax line on the candle.

The hot water will quickly start to melt the wax.

Once the wax is melted enough to shrink the candle a bit, tip the candle out with your finger.

Carefully grab it with both fingers and pull it out of the top of the candleholder.

If it doesn’t fit, put it back and rest the candle in the pot of hot water again to melt it a bit more.

Be gentle when you pull it out so you don’t muck the candle up too much.

It will be soft and impressionable.

Now you have to seal the bottom of the candle so water can’t get into it.

Just tip some of the melted wax onto the underside of the candle.

Let it cool and seal.

The candle is now ready to float!

Candles this size will stay lit for a few hours.

And yes.  That is another bowl.  Homesense, 2009.

Something that isn’t necessary, but helps with your floating candle is a wick that has a metal wire in it.

It helps support the wick and keeps it from flopping over and extinguishing the flame.


Tomorrow watch for Part II of floating candles!  I know.  The excitement never stops.  But honestly … to me this is exciting.  What with the bowls and the candles melding together to become the perfect tabletop accessory.   Who wouldn’t get excited?!

We’re saving money, repurposing stuff AND SETTING THINGS ON FIRE!  Oh my God, I think I need to take a Valium.

Which is pretty much how I felt many, many years ago … when I got this,



Instead of these,


Yet again … I feel the need to take a Valium.


  1. Sarah -IttyBittyCelticWitch says:

    Holy moly this is fantastic thankyou so much for sharing!

  2. Roxie says:

    What type of wax will work,dosnt it melt? or will it stay burning? maybe its a dumb? but im really interested.

  3. Arthur says:

    Nice way of doing it, but I can help wondering if it’s worth the time and effort.

    In Ikea you can get floating candles for around $0.3 per candle, so I’m tempted to buy some instead of trying to make them myself.

  4. Melanie says:

    Just found this post- looks like you no longer have the Royal Doulton figurine. Too bad, I was hoping you would blog about a “cool” way to display those things. I have two of them and have never found a way to make them look cool. I appreciate that I have one from each grandmother but I really don’t like them. Maybe it can’t be done!

    • Karen says:

      Melanie – Unless you have a very traditional home, yeah … it’s hard to make a Royal Doulton look great. I’m sure there’s a way. I’m just not sure how. ~ karen!

  5. Janet says:

    OMG! Thank you so much for this idea!! I want floating candles for my wedding but I cant find any in all 3 of my colors (aparently yellow isnt popular). Now I am going to try this!!! I only need them to last a few hours and not burn the fish that will be swimming in the bottom of the bowls. THANK YOU!!!

  6. Leslie says:

    You are a genius!!

    I just tried this and it worked so easily. I have always gotten these amazing candles in vanilla at the drugstore for $1.00. They burn forever and the scent is amazing.

    I will have to now become a bowl collector for all my amazing floating candles I will steam out of their glass holders for this new found obsession.

    • Karen says:

      Excellent! Admittedly they don’t last as long as store bought floating candles, but they do last longer than just dropping a candle in a bowl of water. 🙂 ~ karen!

  7. Diane says:

    Your bowl in the first picture (Holland Park Garden Center)…I have the exact bowl! Well, not EXACTLY cause that one is yours but I have one that looks the same! 😛 Got it at a thrift store last year..It’s the most beautiful bowl ever! 😀

  8. girlrudy says:

    HAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAAA!! BANDAGE PANTS. My apologies, I must be distracted thinking about the new surfboard I didn’t get. Although, bandage pants might be a better option for me now.

    • Karen says:

      girlrudy – Do you know who Nash the Slash is? Bandage pants would have suited him. ~ karen

      • girlrudy says:

        Sorry I didn’t see that you replied to that comment about the Bandage pants. But I am just writing back (3 WEEKS LATER!!!) to say good call on Nash the Slash. I had totally forgotten (buried him deep, deep in my subconscious perhaps??) about him. I am now going to spend 3 hours online goggling the hell out of him, reliving both of our glory days… Thanks!!

        • girlrudy says:

          DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL, FAT FINGERS!! I obviously meant Googling. And I meant my glory days and his. Not yours. Yours are in full swing, even without your own bandage pants…
          Stupid fat fingers…

        • Karen says:

          Girlrudy – I have fat fingers too! Kindred. ~ karen

  9. girlrudy says:

    I also received the super fancy “Sweet Seventeen”, much to my teen-angst fueled chagrin. All I wanted was a new surfboard. But I would have taken a pair of bandage pants instead. Or the red plaid ones with all the zippers, like the Sex Pistols wore. WHooooo-Hooooo!!

  10. Nicole says:

    I’m more fascinated that you know where and when you bought each bowl, as if they’re Rembrandt etchings or…you know…Royal Doulton figurines.

    • Karen says:

      NIcole – I have a house full of bowls and I could tell you where each and every one came from. And the price I paid. And what my mother gave me for my birthday the year I bought “said” bowl. Heh. ~ karen

  11. Veki says:

    Holy crap – that figurine is $225!!

  12. Lynda says:

    LOL you are so funny and creative!! i am going to try this for my wedding centerpieces 😉 can’t wait for part 2!

  13. Evalyn says:

    Well, I don’t collect bowls and I can’t live with scented candles, but I do like to light things on fire. Can’t wait till spring so I can burn the pile of yard debris I’ve been collecting all winter. The Rites of Spring = fire.

  14. J says:

    …. as always, a delight …. sadly you live so far from Texas I can’t show you all …. well, a lot of them are packed away …. have bowls you would drool over …. or possibly into (yuck!) …. had the haircut, too (thanks Mom) and kept the bowl ….

  15. Shauna says:

    ha ha, I would have wanted those pants at 17 too (maybe even a little bit still), but can you imagine your parents going into the store to buy those bondage pants? Just imagining my parents walking into a store that sells those clothes makes me laugh let alone imagining them asking the salesperson where they could find the bondage pant section. HA HA! Thanks for the candle tutorial;)

    • Karen says:

      Shauna – My mother was actually really good about indulging my fashion choices. She’s a seamstress who opened her own dress shop when she was 16! Long story … but it was short lived. Anyhow, because of her influence I suppose, I’ve always loved clothing and fashion. My mother ended up sewing me a pair of bondage pants. Red with white zippers. 🙂 ~ karen

  16. Robin says:

    Perty! I’m all about re-purposing stuff, too! And what better way to save that candle from its ugly candle holder?

    Mall pants!

  17. KatG says:

    You can also put the candle in the freezer. The wax will contract and pop right out. This is how I get old candles that have melted down too far out of cute containers. However this doesn’t solve the need for melty wax on the bottom of the candle to seal it. I suppose you could take your lighter to the bottom of the candle and melt a bit over though… eh. screw it. Hot water away!

    • Karen says:

      Kat – The freezing wouldn’t work with these types of candles because the glass is round and the hole at the top is quite a bit narrower than the widest part of the candle. It really needs to be melted a bit to be able to get it out. Good thinkin’ tho! ~ karen

  18. marilyn says:

    oh karen, that was just tooo funny! your bowls are spectacular, i understand that fetish and i love your floating candles and those pants? you could probably pull those off too! xo

  19. Traci says:

    You’re so great, Karen!!! I love this idea!! I don’t collect bowls, but I do have an obsession with lamps…I don’t know why but I do. Bowls would be easier to decorate with, but I’m wired (pun, HA!) to buy lamps. I even buy lamps for other people just because I’ll find one that “looks” like them!

  20. mbb. says:

    those pants – man oh man….

  21. pve says:

    karen, i bet you have to light those candles when you are smokin bacon to add another scent to the air, right? hope you finally got those bad smokin boots.

  22. Dieu says:

    hmmm. this probably lasts a whole lot longer than my method of pulling tealights out of those little metal cups and floating those in water. I’ll try this with the next batch of dollar candles.

  23. Laura says:

    and also, thanks to you, I can buy plants even though I know I will kill them. You can take little votive candles out of their metal holders and float them, too.

  24. Bethany says:

    I understand your love of bowls. I myself am obsessed with those wooden root bowls and the Hawaiian monkey pod wood bowls that come in all kinds of leaf shapes. I’m also a sucker for any hand-thrown ceramic bowl with a beautiful glaze. Sigh…

    I also love candles, but I have this weird neurosis about them where after I buy a beautiful candle, I refuse to burn it because then I won’t have it anymore and also because it feels sort of like setting fire to money. I mean, I just paid $5/+ for this thing and now I’m supposed to burn it?!? So I have all these beautiful candles that gave never been lit. I think I need help.

    • Karen says:

      Bethany! You sound like my mother. She’ll light a candle occasionally, but if you look through the drawers and chests in her living room they’re filled with candles. Same reasoning as you. I have NO problem with burning candles. It’s the same sensibility that coaxes me to spend money on fresh flowers I know are going to die in a few days. Go ahead and light your candles! It’ll make you feel good. 🙂 ~ karen

    • Jamieson says:

      Dear Bethany,
      Buy 2 candles. Burn one and cherish the other in whatever candle-filled room you keep all of your unlit candles in. TopTip!

    • magali says:

      maybe you should start small and then burn big! Start by burning cheap candles from the dollar store and once you’ve gotten hooked on watching your candles burn you can burn your pretty candles.

    • Pam'a says:

      I feel the same way about cooking things. Why go to all that bother when it just ends up…

      Well, you know.

  25. Kate S says:

    lol “need a hair cut? Bowl!”

    I appreciate the regularity with which you make me chuckle.


  26. Connor says:

    Have I, um, mentioned that you’re my favourite?
    I HATE paying more for floating candles, but they always look so pretty…

    Those pants are pretty rockin’, by the way. You should get those, too.

  27. Rebecca says:

    Wouldn’t it be easier to just smash the glass on the $1 candle? There’s me being all eco-friendly again, but c’mon it’s a one dollar candle!

    • Karen says:

      Rebecca – Um. No, actually. I don’t think smashing the glass and cleaning up all the shards would be easier than putting it in a pot of warm water. Now I’m wondering if you were kidding. Were you kidding? Sarcasm is very difficult to detect over the Internet sometimes. LOL. ~ karen

      • Rebecca says:

        No, not kidding! But smash it in a paper bag or something so the shards are contained.

        • Karen says:

          Rebecca – Oh! The glass these candles are in is pretty thick. It’d take quite a whack to break it. A big enough whack that it would mangle the candle I would think. And aside from the broken glass in the bag, you’ll also have shards of glass in your candle. So for everyone other than thrill seeker Rebecca, LOL, I still advise against the glass smashing. Plus, you need to melt wax anyway in order to seal the bottom of the candle. I’m still confused as to how smashing is easier than putting the candle in warm water and pulling it out, but if you insist on trying it let me know how it goes! ~ karen

        • Ana says:

          And knowing me I’d also probably get shards of glass in my eyes.

          Melting equals safety. How many times can you say THAT!?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Art of Doing Stuff