How to Make Tea Cup Candles

What a beautiful combination--delicate china tea cups and warm glowing candles.  You can easily turn tea cups into candle holders to grace your table for a Ladies Tea. The possibilities:  set a votive candle inside a cup; turn a cup over on the saucer and set a votive candle on top of the cup; set a small candle holder with a taper candle inside a cup; or fill a cup with melted wax and a wick.

To make a filled tea cup candle, select the wax you want to use.  You can buy soy wax or bees wax, but for a less expensive project you can use paraffin wax or leftover candles you have around the house. I chose to use some plumber’s candles I had on hand.  (These are inexpensive and can be purchased at most hardware stores.) Since I wanted white, unscented candles, these were a good choice for me.  I also like that they burn clean and slow. 

Cut the wax into small pieces.

Melt the wax pieces in the top of a double boiler. I used a small saucepan placed inside a larger saucepan with a couple of inches of boiling water in it. Don’t melt the wax in a single saucepan or a microwave as it is harder to control the heat and it could catch on fire. If you want colored or scented candles, you can add candle dye and scent. There are online sites where you can order candle making supplies. You could put a crayon in with the wax to tint it, but if you need additional color, you might not have enough of the same color. If you’re melting down colored, scented candles, you’re all set.

Next, prepare your cup and wick. Wash the cup in hot water and dry it. You can buy wicks with or without the metal clip on the bottom. One of the difficulties I have found is that the wick tends to float to the surface when you pour in the melted wax.  An easy solution  is to use a white birthday candle for the wick--if it’s large enough. They seem to make everything smaller these days, including birthday candles.  Have you noticed that?  I had some Angel Chime candles on hand.  They’re 4” long and 1/2” in diameter, perfect for this use. The candle was a little too long, though, so I cut a piece off the bottom end.

When the wax is all melted, pour it into a glass measuring cup.  This makes it easier to pour into the cup than trying to pour it from the saucepan.  (Don’t worry, the measuring cup will clean up easily.)  Pour the melted wax into the cup, leaving about 1/2" to 3/4” head space.  You’re going to top it off later with more wax. Pour the remainder of the wax back into the saucepan so it doesn’t all harden in the measuring cup.

 When a skim forms on the surface of the melted wax, slowly push the “wick” candle down through.  It will pull the skim along with it to the bottom of the cup, which will help hold the wick candle in place. 

The top of the wick candle should be higher than the surface of the melted wax.  You're going to add more layers of wax later. Don’t move the cup while the wax is hardening.

As the wax cools, it contracts and shrinks, so a well will form in the middle. To reduce the shrinkage, you can poke holes in the wax when you see the well starting to form.  This gives a release outlet to the melted wax under the hardening surface.  I use a cake tester to poke the holes in the wax.

When the wax in the cup is hard, reheat the wax in the saucepan to melt it down, and pour some more into the cup until the surface is covered. This will fill in the holes you poked.  You can keep repeating this until it is at the level you want.  Doing several thin layers helps to eliminate the well.  This could take a few hours, but you can go do other things while you’re waiting.  Just keep re-melting the wax.

When you’re done, the measuring cup will have a thick coating of hardened wax in it.  To clean it out, place the measuring cup in a pan of hot water and heat it up.  As soon as the wax begins to soften, you can scrape the cup and easily pull the lump of wax out.

To clean the top of the double boiler, pour any remaining wax into a can to discard it or save it for another time. Wipe the saucepan out with a wad of paper towels.  Reheat the pan if you have to and wipe again.  Wash the pans and measuring cup in hot water and use some steel wool to get off any remaining wax. Here’s the proof that the measuring cup does come clean.

You will love lighting your tea cup candles, and your guests will be so impressed.  They make wonderful gifts too!  Invite some friends over. Relax and enjoy!

You may also like:  Planning and Hosting a Ladies Tea and Quick and Easy Recipes for a Ladies Tea

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  1. Thank you for posting this Katie. I have the beeswax and teacups but I didn't know what to use for a wick. Now I know - birthday candles are a brilliant idea! Lisa

  2. Oh you're welcome Lisa. They were fun to make and a big hit at the Tea. They are so pretty when lit. Thanks for commenting. ~Katie

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  4. very nice i love your article. i learn lots of things from your site and started my candles making business in india you can check my site