I'm going to show you how to make floating candles, because you never know when you're going to find yourself in some kind of floating candle emergency situation. Like an impromptu dinner party or shotgun wedding reception.
Making floating candles is a little project that has immense reward with very little effort. Almost none in fact; if you can light a candle, you can make a floating candle. If you cannot light a candle you have my condolences on account of the fact you're just a torso.
There isn't a single night all year long that I don't have candles burning. 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 like this horrifyingly ugly one on Amazon ( that I LOVE ).
1 year at the top, all the way down to 13 years at the bottom. Every birthday I got to haul the candle out of the basement, scrape the dried up centipedes off it and burn it down a full year. To this day I remember that candle yet I do not remember a single present I got from the age of 1 - 13.
So ... floating candles. They aren't exactly revolutionary but the fact that you can make them out of candles you probably already own is.
All you need are tea lights, which I'm sure 90% of you have shoved in a drawer right now, and one little tip.
How to Make a Floating Candle Out of a Tea Light.
1. Remove your tea light candle from its aluminium cup and flip the candle over.
2. Light another candle (a taper candle is the easiest to work with) and drip some wax from it onto the underside of the tea light until the metal wick holder on the bottom is completely sealed.
Just line all your tea lights up on a surface you can scrape the dripped wax off of and do them in bulk.
Stick your candles into a bowl, pond, toilet or bathtub and admire. You just made DIY floating candles because you are a DIY badass. And maybe a little lazy and cheap because you didn't just go to the store to buy some floating candles. Join the club.
When they're prepped like this the candles will last between 45 minutes and 1½ hours depending on the size of the tea light candle.
Want to make floating taper candles? You can do that too. Here's my tutorial on how to do it.
- For bigger floating candles, use the cheap candles you can buy in a glass holder. Dollar stores like Dollarama or Dollar Tree have them. Just set the glass candle holder in a bowl of hot water to loosen the candle inside and pull it out. Seal the bottoms the same way. These larger candles will burn for around 2 hours.
- Candles with a slightly smaller bottom than top float better than candles with straight sizes.
- Freezing the candles prior to burning them will NOT make them last longer. I tested it.
These make a fast and easy centrepiece for that impromptu dinner party you might have. Float a flower or two in a bowl with some floating candles and you're automatically inducted into the Martha Stewart hall of fame. Extra Martha points if you use white candles.
I do not have impromptu dinner parties, but you might. I'm more of an "I like to think about having dinner parties but mainly read cookbooks while watching Netflix instead " kind of gal.
That's all there is to making floating candles out of regular candles. Just seal up any area on the bottom where water might be able to get in, stick the candles in water, light them and wait for the compliments to come rolling in.
Of course, if you're just a torso you will come rolling in too.
Hey there! This comment is for Karen or anyone who can answer it. How long do these little makeshift floating candles burn? Wanting to use them for m wedding reception so I don't have to buy floating candles. I'm just wondering how long theyll last?? Anyone??? Thanks!
Hi Charity - It actually says in the post that they'll last around 2 hours. And I imagine the bigger the tea light you use (some are bigger than others) the longer burn time you'll have. ~ karen!
What a great idea! Simple and beautiful. And yes,the tip is to drip some wax "to cover the metal thingamabob holding the wick". Thank you I now have many "floating candles".
I didn't have tea lights but I had votives candles. They worked beautifully! Walmart had 16 for 2 bucks hard to pass that deal up. Thanks
No problem Angelica! ~ karen
This might seem silly, but would this work to float on top of vegetable oil? Seems like a potentially very flammable situation, but I would be quite please if it works...
Your blog always makes me grin and snicker. Thanks
Just wanted to say thanks for posting this great "how to" tip. I wanted floating candles for table centerpieces for my husband's 60th birthday party. I did a test-run with small and large tea candles. The smaller tea lights just don't have the burn capacity of the big ones - and I wanted a long burn. My test run yield result of 4 hours for the large tea light (bought at IKEA). I wasn't thrilled with the adhesion of the newly applied candlestick wax to the tea candle (there was a thin gap between the original and the applied layers) - so I decided to try a slight variation. I took 2 tea lights from the same bunch of candles I wanted to float. I melted the wax into a hot liquid in a pan on the stove and carefully poured the hot wax onto the bottom of all the tea lights a the same time. Note of Caution: Be careful not to overfill the backside. If the melted wax drips down the candle, it can create a mess on the wick side (the side that shows when it's floating). Pan melted wax was MUCH faster than the candle drip approach - and the result yielded much better adhesion than my test run. Result from the party - 5.5 hour burn time (compared to my candlestick text run result of 4 hours). AMAZING. Thanks again for this awesome post. It continues to help people like me - long after you posted it.
Excellent! Glad you improved upon it! ~ karen
Floating candles-beautiful. However I, too, am smitten with the container they are floating in. This does not bode well as I am still searching for the receptacle your table top fireplace was residing in. Destined to fail that was how many years ago??? Off to float my candles in the loo.
LOL. Well maybe give up on the table top fireplace, to make way in your brain for the bowl. The glass bowl in my photos is originally from Structube but that was YEARS ago. The bowl on legs is more recent so you might be able to find it but I don't know who the maker is I'm afraid. ~ karen!
Was I the only one to wonder why you had a Chicken Drumstick under the glass table!?
I then tilted my screen & realised it is a woman's arm on a book!! HAHAHA!
I LOVE this idea! Thank you Karen!
Now is see the stick and the arm. Good catch. Merry Christmas
LOL! I ... I never noticed the chicken drumstick. I'll have to go look at that photo again now. ~ karen!
Hi Karen, This is so SMART! Thank you. I also read your post on taper candles... The taper candles are really beautiful too, but the glass vase cracked - you were going to try this with a larger washer to see if it would keep it away from the edge of the vase. Did the larger washer idea work? (If you've already answered the question, sorry for asking it again.). Thanks - kunyi
Hi Kunyi! This is awful, but I can't remember. I plan on redoing the taper candle post though so I'll experiment with it. And try very hard to remember the results, lol. ~ karen!
Thanks for sharing. Love this simple yet elegant DIY.
Just wondering if, after the burning has all finished, there’s wax left stuck to the container? This would determine if I do this in an heirloom bowl or a cheaper one.
Hi Hanna. No wax sticks to anything. The candles just float and then extinguish themselves when water finally makes it into them. ~ karen!
Well, shit. I wish I'd know this a month ago when I was getting married and paying for a bag of 24 floating candles on Amazon. Oh well, I'll be reselling them to some other clueless schmuck.
My oh my, THANK YOU very kindly for this information! My husband and I are hosting a Valentines Day dinner for 2 of my sisters along with their mates. And I asked my husband if he knew how to make floating candles. I Goggled it and came across your blog, etc. YOU ARE a life and money save lol! Thanks again for sharing this wonderful and VERY useful information! Blessings.
I read this post ( yes, I'm doing some catch-up) and thought how apropos for southwest BC ( where I'm listening to sump pumps pumping). I have a vision of thousands of floating candles on the Sumas flats, stopping only at the Tiger dam across the freeway (which of course, brings up a visions of hundreds of Tiggers lying end to end...)