You may have seen pictures of beautifully painted wax candles on Pinterest or Instagram and thought, “I could do that.” No doubt these are adorable and make a perfect gift for someone special on a birthday or Christmas. You can even make some personalized candles for yourself to decorate in your home if you wish to.
Painting over candle wax might be possible, but it can be a tricky hobby to get into. To paint over, you must first mix equal parts of acrylic paint with a candle-painting medium specifically designed for this purpose. Then, apply the mixture directly onto the wax after removing any wick holders or stickers from the candle.
As long as you use water-based, non-toxic acrylic paint and limit the amount of paint used to smaller designs, your candles will be safe to burn after a few hours of the paint drying.
Remember that covering the whole candle in the paint may affect its burn time. And also, do not try to paint the scented candles, as they contain essential oils, which will tend to repel the coating and will not allow it to adhere completely.
How to Paint Wax Candles?
Painting candles isn’t tough, but you will need to set aside some time and be patient throughout the process. To start, gather the necessary supplies, which include some white candles and the following items:
- Acrylic paint
- Candle painting medium
- Rubbing alcohol
- A sharp knife (for removing wick holders or stickers)
Step 1. Prepare the candles
To prepare your candles for painting, take off any wick holders or stickers using a sharp knife. Next, clean them with rubbing alcohol for better paint adhesion.
You do not need to work hard on this; simply wipe the surface with a paper towel or cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol. The preparation time may vary depending on the number of candles you need to paint. So, be patient and don’t rush.
Step 2. Choose your design and patterns
Next, choose the design you want to paint on your candle and sketch it lightly with a pencil.
If you want to create interesting patterns (like a spiral design from top to bottom), you may use masking tape, but it is optional. You can just create some freehand designs or paint the wax in single color all over if you prefer.
Step 3. Prepare the paint and apply it to candle wax
Once done with the preparation, thoroughly mix equal parts of acrylic paint and a candle-painting medium in a separate bowl. Then using a high-quality fine paintbrush, paint the outline of your design. Once the outline is complete, fill in the rest of the design.
Work in small sections, and be sure to smooth out any brush strokes as you go. Also, allow the paint to dry completely; otherwise, the heat from the flame could cause the paint to blister or peel.
Remember that brushmarks on candle wax might still be visible as the paint dries but will usually become less noticeable after a few hours of drying.
Why Using Candle Painting Medium is Essential?
A candle painting medium is a kind of paint additive specifically designed for use on candles when painting. The purpose of this medium is to allow acrylic and craft paints to adhere better to tricky surfaces such as wax candles, soap, etc.
You know, as the candle burns, the flame generates a lot of heat, particularly around it. Additionally, not all paint types adhere well to wax, and it’s important to avoid paint that emits toxic fumes when heated.
Candle painting medium is in the form of a colorless gel. When used appropriately, it does not crack or peel off with heat, which is ideal for maintaining the candle’s appearance and preventing paint flaking.
You can also use colored candle painting mediums instead of paint, which can be applied using a brush, sponge, or even a finger.
The only problem with these mediums is they are not readily available online at stores like Amazon. You can, however, visit your local craft stores or online candle supply sites to check if they carry it.
Can You Use Spray Paint to Decorate Wax Candles?
It’s important to know that anything oil-based, including oil paint, spray paint, and enamel, should be avoided as they cannot be burned.
Although you can use your spray paint aerosol can for creating unique candle decorations, it’s good to know that some might contain propane and butane. Attempting to light a candle with these kinds of spray paint on it could result in a fire or the release of dangerous fumes.
Also, to achieve a perfect, opaque finish, you may require applying 2-3 coats of paint. So, it’s better to avoid using spray paints for wax candles and stick to candle painting mediums instead.
A Few Other Things You Need to Care About When Painting Wax
Painting candles is a simple, enjoyable process if you follow the steps and use the right supplies. But before you get started, here are a few additional things you need to keep an eye at:
a) The candles you pick to paint should be white and plain because the acrylic coating may darken the wax, making it difficult to see the details of your artwork. The shape of the candle should also be easy to work with, like cubes, cuboids, and cylindrical. Do not pick the geometric ones with intricate designs or other decorations.
b) The quality of the wax used in the candle influences how well the paint sticks to it. So, if you want to make painting easier, it’s recommended to use soy or beeswax candles rather than paraffin because they provide a smoother surface that allows the paint to adhere better.
c) Stick to basic paint designs such as stripes or polka dots when decorating candles. Refrain from attempting complex designs like intricate flowers or animals, as not being able to recreate them properly can ruin the entire look of your expensive candles and will create a mess.
d) Choose the paint colors wisely, and don’t use water. Light colors will show up better on dark candles and vice versa. So, choose the acrylic paint colors accordingly. Also, do not add water to the paint mixture, even if acrylic paint can be thinned with water easily. Diluting the mixture may cause it to lose its ability to adhere properly to the wax surface.
e) Paint only the portions of the candles you want, like the side or top portion. Do not cover the entire candle in rich opaque colors, and avoid using too much paint on each area to ensure the candle still looks normal even when lit. Also, avoid applying paint in the vicinity of the candlewick because the high temperatures generated near the wick could produce noxious fumes.
The Bottom Line
Creating painted candles is a manageable task resulting in beautiful art pieces for home decor, Christmas decorations, and gifts. Do not fear experimenting with different colors and designs to create a one-of-a-kind work of art.
Remember that candles are fragile no matter what designs and patterns you select. So, handle them with care to avoid damaging the paint job.
With a bit of time and patience, why not get creative and give painting wax a try? Just put on some music, and enjoy the process.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.