DIY Lemon Scented Candles In Vintage Tea Cups

May 10, 2022

Today I'm sharing how to make your own DIY lemon scented candles in vintage tea cups.

spring coffee table vignette white bird crown green garland candle

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Before I begin the candle-making tutorial, let me say that I am no candle making expert - not by a long shot. This was my first attempt, and at times I truly felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants. There's a lot of information out there and you can go nuts trying to read it all. I eventually got to a point where I said, "Well, it's time to either *expletive* or get off the pot." The following is a personal reflection on my own DIY lemon scented candle-making experience.

three vintage floral tea cups

While you can use any type of container you'd like for your DIY scented candles (as long as it can withstand the hot wax temperatures, a.k.a. not plastic), I chose to use some vintage tea cups from my collection. (And a few other containers as well, seen below.)

While some tutorials say that you should pre-warm the jars or containers before filling them with hot wax, you first have to make sure that your container can withstand the oven. When I googled "porcelain tea cups in the oven" I found out that it's not recommended for them. So I skipped that step.  

DIY candle making supplies

DIY Lemon Scented Candle-Making Supplies  

1. paraffin wax (either block or pellet form) or soy wax (either coconut soy wax blend block or pellet form)

2. wicks (they come in different lengths and thicknesses so be sure to get the right size -- just google "candle wick size chart" to find out the best size wick for your containers)

3. containers (tea cups, glass jars, candle tins, vintage bowls, copper bowls)

6. awl for making holes in popsicle sticks (optional)

7. power drill  for making holes in popsicle sticks (what I used; optional)

8. fragrance of your choice (either candle fragrance oil or essential oils)

9. candle dye (optional) 

11. double boiler (you can also use a Pyrex measuring cup and large pot in lieu of traditional double boiler ) or candle-making melting pot

*Ignore the wooden dowels in the photo. I decided against using them -- I used popsicle sticks -- called centering sticks -- instead. I just drilled a hole in the middle of the stick large enough so that the wick would fit through it. You can also purchase two types of ready-made centering sticks, links in list above.

How To Make Lemon Scented Candles In Vintage Tea Cups

popsicle sticks in vintage tea cup

1. Either drill or use an awl-like tool to create small holes in the middle of your popsicle sticks, making sure the holes are large enough for the wicks to fit through them. I used two centering sticks per candle. You can also buy premade wooden or metal centering sticks. Just be sure whatever sticks you use are the right size for the width of your container opening, allowing you to place the wick directly in the center of the container.    

empty tea cup centering sticks candle wicks

2. Using hot glue, attach the silver disc at the bottom of the wick onto the bottom middle of the container. Once the disc is secure, add your two popsicle sticks or centering stick(s) to keep the wick in the center of the container and to keep it straight.
Pyrex measuring cup filled with paraffin wax chunks for candle making

3. I ended up using a 1-lb. block of unscented, white parrafin wax. If using a block, chop it up (carefully!) with a knife before melting, as I did. This will facilitate the melting process. You can also buy wax pellets which eliminate the need for chopping (and probably melts faster).

4. Place the wax into the top half of your double boiler (or Pyrex measuring cup) and set aside. Fill the bottom of the double boiler pot or, as in my case, whatever pot you are using, with water about half-way up. Bring the water to a boil, then place either the top boiler pot or your Pyrex cup into the water. This allows the wax to melt by indirect heat. 

melted white paraffin wax in Pyrex measuring cup double boiler

5. Wait it out until the wax melts and ultimately reaches around 180 degrees fahrenheit. (I used that temperature because that's the most common temperature I saw when researching how to do this.) The liquid wax will now be clear in color. (It's not quite there yet in the above photo -- note the milky whiteness.)

Unfortunately, it took my 1-lb. block of wax FOREVER (like two hours) to fully melt, and even then it only got to 170 degrees. (In all fairness, my Pyrex cup was hanging over the boiling water, but was not immersed in it. I think I should have placed it directly into the water. Tutorials I reviewed did not make that clear.) 

Don't make my mistake! I've read that a 1-lb. block of wax should melt in 10-15 minutes. Not my experience, but take my advice and hopefully your wax will melt fairly quickly if you place the top of your double boiler directly into the water. 

NOTE: For my second batch of candles I melted the wax in the microwave, at 60 second increments, and it worked out just fine -- as well being super fast!

6. Remove the now-clear liquid wax from the heat and let cool to around 170 degrees, which is the best temperature at which to add your scent (and dye if you're adding dye as well). Then add either candle scent or essential oil to the melted wax and stir for 1-2 minutes. 

I used lemon verbena essential oil since Michael's didn't have lemon candle scent. Some say to use 1 ounce of scent per pound of wax. Others says use 30 drops of scent per pound of wax. I used 60 drops of essential oil for 1 pound of wax and I still had plenty left in the oil dispenser.

vintage rose tea cup DIY poured candle with melted wax and centering sticks

7. Now you can pour the liquid wax into the containers, being sure not to disturb the popsicle sticks. Leave a little bit of room at the top. 

vintage jadeite tea cup DIY candle making

I thought I over-filled this jadeite tea cup, but keep reading to find out if I actually did or not.

Assuming you have some melted wax left, save some of it for "topping off" the candles after they've hardened. (You most likely won't get a flawlessly smooth top -- the wax tends to cave in around the wick. Hence the need for topping off later.)  If you don't have enough melted wax to save for later, don't worry -- you can just melt some more and use that!

three vintage tea cups DIY candles with wicks

8. Let the wax dry for at least 1 hour before removing the centering sticks. 

tea cup candle

If the wax level "deflates" after it hardens, or holes were created (see above), you can now add the wax you've saved (after remelting it), using it to "top off" the containers and hopefully remedy any unsightly holes or unevenness. I waited 24 hours from the initial pour before topping off any of my candles.

vintage rose tea cup gold rim DIY lemon candle

Here it is after topping it off with a new layer of fresh hot wax (I didn't have any left over so I had to melt some more.). 
Once that top level has fully dried you can trim your wick down to 1/4" for paraffin wax and 1/8" for soy wax.

vintage rose tea cup DIY candle
I wasn't totally satisfied with this one since the wax definitely contracted, or shrunk, once it hardened, and there was a slight indentation around the wick (hard to see in the photo). 

hand painted rose tea cup candle

While it was not as indented as the first floral tea cup, I still topped it off for more of a finished look. I was pleased with the final look.

And while I was initially afraid I over-filled this one, once the wax hardened and shrunk a bit I could see that even it could use a topping off. Again, there was a slight indentation around the wick which is hard to see in the photo.

It looked much better after I topped it off. I ended up having to melt more fresh wax so that I'd have enough to top off all three tea cups. And since I was already at it I thought why not make a few more lemon scented candles in vintage containers? (Yes, I found this project addicting!) 

vintage pink Jeannette sugar bowl DIY scented candle

So I found two more vintage containers to use -- a vintage pink depression glass sugar bowl and a chinoiserie porcelain trinket box. 

After topping them both off I was very pleased with all 5 of my DIY lemon scented candles.

spring coffee table vignette with tea cup candle

Then came the really fun part -- time to style them in a spring vignette on the coffee table.

boxwood topiary clay pot cage bird pink glass candle

I couldn't decide which one I liked better so I think I'll have to rotate them!

boxwood ball regal porcelain bird lamb's ear garland tea cup candle

delicate petit rose tea cup candle crowned porcelain bird greenery in a rattan tray

vintage jadeite tea cup lemon scented candle

I love the warm glow it gives off. I've only burned this one so far, and unfortunately I haven't been overly impressed with the scent throw (the strongness of the scent and how well it travels throughout the room). While paraffin wax (what I used) is supposed to generate the greatest scent throw from added fragrance oils, I'm guessing I should have used a whole jar of oil per pound of wax for the greatest scent throw. 

I'm also allowing for the possibility that each individual candle may have varying scent strengths so I'll just have to wait and see. I do think there's a learning curve to all of this and the more candles you make, the better you get at figuring these things out! 

FINAL NOTE: If your wicks are way taller than you need (like mine were), after trimming them down you can take the excess and use that to make additional candles! Just buy some metal candle wick sustainer tabs (the small metal piece that attaches to the bottom of the wick) and match them up with your leftover wicks! It's a win-win. 

Well, that's it for today, friends!

I hope you've enjoyed reading about

DIY Lemon Scented Candles In Vintage Tea Cups

and that I've inspired you in some way. 

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Leave a Comment!

Junkchiccottage said...

These are so cute. Love the idea of the popsicle sticks to keep the wick in the center. Cute and smell great what a nice gift these would make. Have a great day. xoxo Kris

The Antiqued Journey said...

They turned out SO CUTE, Kathleen!!! I Love the cups and other vessels that you chose to use! I've had success in the past with using long chip clips to hold up the wicks...just another tip to all the millions out there! Thanks for sharing your project!!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your tutorial. I have made simple candles several times and have found that I can smooth over bump-ly tops with my heat gun (for rubber stamp embossing). I remember reading somewhere that if a candle too quickly, that sinking in the middle happens. I keep my eye out for supplies at GW and yard sales and people often don't finish their projects! Kathy A

Lauren @ My Wonderfully Made said...

I got into this years ago but it's been a long while. You have some wonderful tips that I didn't use and I'm inspired to try this again. My favorite part was going to GW and finding really unique containers and giving them as gifts. Yours all turned out so pretty!!

Keira Ball said...

Thanks for sharing step by step guide. Will definitely try this it.

Denise/My Home of All Seasons said...

Just adorable Kathleen! I just had to run downstairs and take out the teacups I had set to go to a friend's garage sale now! Great idea and a great tutorial!

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