Which mold is best when making candles at home?
You’ve settled on making candles at home for some great DIY gifts. You’ve managed to decide on the type of candle and are excited to be making a soy pillar candle. Next is to determine the mold you will use. The decision to buy a mold is not to be taken lightly as they can be fairly expensive. There are a lot of choices when buying a mold and here I will go through the benefits of each kind of mold, my preferences and some very cheap alternatives which are sure to please the budget.
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) molds are readily available at Candle Supply companies and many craft stores.
You can buy one piece molds in many standard shapes – cyclinder, cube, rectangular prism, pyramid etc.
These are also two piece molds that clip together to minimize leakage. Simply undo the clips, separate the mold pieces and you have a candle.
PVC is a great mold material for making candles at home because it is strong, durable, resistant to heat and easy to clean. The smooth PVC provides a great finish on a molded candle. The only real disadvantage I can see to PVC is that the material is opaque and so you can’t see your candle until you remove it from the mold.
I especially love the way I can make some standard pillar molds from a quick visit to my hardware store. When making candles at home saving money is important, keep reading for more on this topic later.
Polycarbonate molds are very popular. They too come in one piece for standard shaped candles and two piece for more intricate candles. You will often find the intricate two piece molds have a gasket to minimize leakage. You can get some great polycarbonate trays for making sets of floating candles. In general I have found there to be a wider variety in Polycarbonate than PVC molds but that Polycarbonate is often slightly more expensive.
Polycarbonate is a great mold material for making candles at home because it is strong, durable, resistant to heat and easy to clean. I do find I am a little more careful with my polycarbonate mold though because they are not as strong as some of my basic one piece PVC molds. The smooth Polycarbonate provides a great finish on a molded candle. A great bonus when using Polycarbonate is that you can see you candle as the material is transparent.
Aluminum molds are one piece, seamless and produce an excellent pillar candle. The use of a single piece means there are no seams to trim and aluminum has a perfect mold release. You will find aluminum molds at candle supply stores and craft stores. They are probably best suited to a candle maker who intend to run a business, more than the occasional hobbyist making candles at home.
I have found aluminum molds retail at a higher price than polycarbonate molds. Again, the aluminum is opaque and you can’t actually see your candle until you release it from the mold. That said I don’t find the opacity of aluminum or PVC to be an issue at all.
Polyurethane Molds are tough and flexible. You can buy standard taper molds in polyurethane and also quite decorative pillars and shaped candles. The creators of these molds manage to include great detail in the molds. These molds are very durable and will last for countless pours. Generally, polyurethane molds are one piece with a side slit, but some are two piece with minimum seams due to excellent design. The wick is inserted through the wick hole on the bottom of the mold, no plug is necessary.
While there are many benefits to polyurethane, if you are just starting out with candle making or are simply a hobbyist making candles at home polyurethane candles are an expensive investment. Before buying one you want to ensure you will use that mold a large number of times to get sufficient value from it.
Silicone is a bit like the new kid on the block in candle making. Silicone molds are made of high quality silicone rubber that will last through hundreds of pourings if cared for properly. Silicone molds are amazing and come in an array of wondrous shapes. You can get molds to make a candle in the shape of a muffin, a banana, a piece of sushi, a tree, a cat – you get the picture! Silicone molds enable you to make candles with incredibly fine detail. However, before you get too excited, they too are quite expensive. For a hobbyist making candles at home you want to ensure you will use the mold a large number of times to get sufficient value from it. Having said that, I can’t resist them because they are so adorable!
Besides expense the only disadvantage to silicone is the need to treat it more carefully. Silicone will last for hundreds of candles but you have to take great care not to tear it and you also need to ensure you care for it correctly. Silicone should be kept out of direct sunlight, they need to be washed and dried thoroughly after use and they need care when storing them for long periods of time.
I’m making candles at home as I hobbyist
What should I buy?
So what should you buy? I guess that depends on where you are in your candle making endeavor. If you are just starting out making candles at home you really can’t go wrong with a PVC, Polycarbonate or Aluminum mold in a basic standard shape like a cylinder, cube, pyramid or hexagonal prism. I would start out using a one piece mold and as your experience grows move onto two piece molds and more decorative molds.
What if you really can’t afford to buy any molds? Well there are heaps of DIY options, in fact I have made a video or two on it, available in our members area. In the videos I go through how to use milk cartons, silicone bakeware, cardboard and how to make your own cylindrical PVC mold from a visit to the hardware store.