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Using PVC for Candle Projects

on September 16, 2011 - 7:17am

Last September I hosted a make & take where Hector of Blackstone Cemetery showed us his tricks for making PVC candles.

While it's possible to make candles using paper towel rolls or cans, you may want something sturdier. PVC pipe is a good choice (assuming you have the tools to cut up the pipe).

He showed us his different methods of creating a shelf inside the PVC pipes where the LED candle lights would sit. The first option was using expanding foam (see the image below, far right). Basically, you fill it up, let it dry and slice off the overflow so it's flush with the edge of the PVC pipe. Then you need to cut out a circle in the middle to drop the candle light in. There are various drill attachments you can use to do so, or you're faced with the task of doing it by hand.

The second method (favoured by Hector over the first method) is using simple pipe insulation.

You simply cut short pieces of insulation (about 3 inches long) and slide them inside the narrow pieces of pipe. It's a rather snug fit.

Push the insulation deep enough inside the pipe so the LED candle light base is below the lip of the pipe (you don't want it visible from the side).

For wider pipes (to make a large pillar candle), you simply roll various pieces of insulation together. There's no real scientific method. Just keep cramming pieces in until there's no gap.

Once that's finished (and you've remembered to leave space for the candle light to sit in the centre), you can use simple caulking to create a top to your candle. Smooth it out with your finger once you've applied it to your insulation.

To make a grouping of candle sticks, simply hot glue the PVC pipes together.

The rest of the candle making process is the same as my stub tutorial. I'll recap for those of you who haven't read it.

Place the pipes on a silicone baking sheet (this way, you can make pools of wax at the bottom of the candle without gluing it to your table). I put my silicone pad on an upside-down baking tray. Remember to turn the tray, not the individual pipes, as you work around the outside of the candles adding glue.

The key is to build the wax drips in layers.

A hot glue gun, rather than the lower temp craft glue gun, works best. But remember, the word "hot" is in the title for a reason (I have a blister to prove this). Run the glue around the top edge of the pipe, using enough so it spills down the outside in wide drips. This is your base. You need to let each layer dry before adding the second layer on top of it, so work on a few candles at a time.

Every time you add a layer, you want to build up that top edge. Alternate the dripping placement as you go, building over the last layer and partly on a new spot. You can also add a line of glue to the top edge, wait a moment for it to start the drying process, and then turn the candle upside down, letting gravity stretch the lip of wax up into shapes.

You also want to start making drips on the inside of the candle as well but be mindful of how thick you make the drips or else your LED won't fit.

Try to avoid glue strings - they occur when the tip of your hot glue gun touches the wet glue. Don't panic if it happens. Most of them can be peeled off when dry.

That's about it. Next up: I'll show you how I made my skull candle holders.


Trix's picture

The pipe insulation is a great idea. I found using the great stuff foam to be a mess. I'm trying it this way!

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