It’s fun to make different sized pillar candles using clean milk cartons which serve as candle molds. The best sizes are the half pint, pint and quart. You can make them plain white, use colored wax (including melting down leftover bits of old candles), or for some extra pizazz, you can add essential oils for fragrance, or even use ice cubes to add drama.
Prepare the work area by covering it with newspaper to catch all the drips.
Cut the milk carton to the size candle you want to make. Cut off the top flaps of the carton, and then cut it to at least 1/2 inch above the height you want the candle to be.
Cut a piece of wick that is 2 inches higher than the top of the milk carton. It’s better to buy wicks that have the little metal tab already attached to the base, and that are already coated with wax (so they stand on their own). If they are uncoated, you will need to dip them in melted wax and lay them flat on wax paper until the wax has cooled and hardened.
Wrap the free end of the wick around the middle of the metal or wooden skewer, and then lay the skewer across the top of the milk carton. The skewer helps keep the wick in place and upright.
Melt the wax for your candle. You are going to use the wax in several steps, so keep it melted.
Use a stainless steel scoop or measuring cup with a handle to scoop up a small amount of wax. Pour the wax into the carton so that it covers the metal tab. You may need to hold the skewer in place as you pour the wax so the wick does not shift. Hold it in place until the wax hardens.
Fill the milk carton with wax up to 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the top of the carton. Let the wax cool until it is hard. You should expect the wax to shrink somewhat, so plan to top off your candle to make it level. Let the wax cool completely again. If needed, repeat the topping up step.
Trim the wick to 1/4 inch above the top of the candle.
Insert a butter knife carefully between the edge of the candle and the carton, and gently lift it around the edges to loosen it. Then snip a cut on one side of the carton, and carefully peel it off until the candle is free.
Ice it! If you like, for added visual drama, after you have completed Steps 1 through 6, add some ice cubes to the milk carton, allowing them to stack randomly on top of each other, but not too many, or the candle will have too many holes. Continue with Steps 7 through 9.
Add fragrance. Choose a pure essential oil fragrance you like-available at health food stores and online. Depending on the size of your candle, add between 5 to 10 drops of essential oil to the molten wax, and gently blend it in using a wooden or metal skewer before you pour it into the milk carton.
Practice on a smaller milk carton until you feel comfortable with the process. If you don’t like the result, melt the wax and start again.
Don’t work with or pour the wax near an open flame--such as on your stove--as wax is highly flammable. Always place your candle on a candle holder that will catch the wax drippings.