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How to Put a Picture on a Candle

written by: A. Jitesh•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/19/2011

While browsing through gift shops, have you ever noticed those candles with images on them and wondered if it would be possible for you to make your own? It's certainly not that difficult to do. This DIY photography article will teach you how to put a picture on a candle.

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    Various Ways to Put a Picture on a Candle

    There are multiple methods by which you can put a picture on a candle:

    1. Decal Method
    2. Alternative Decal Method
    3. Embedding Method

    The decal method is quicker and easier as compared to the embedding method. But the best results are obtained using the latter method. If you’re short on time, the decal method should get the job done quickly. But if you really want to invest time and make a special gift for your loved one, the effort of learning the embedding method is well worth it.

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    The Decal Method

    • Both votive candles or the cylindrical ones can be used. Measure the circumference of the candle to ensure your image fits well.

    • Trim the acetate paper so that it’s the same size as the candle.

    • Lay down the acetate paper printed side down on a clean tabletop. Affix a piece of double sided tape on the edge.

    • Place your candle on the paper, flush against the border. Firmly wrap the paper over the candle, and apply pressure to stick the double edged tape on the paper, around the candle.

    • Make sure no air bubbles are trapped between the paper and the candle.
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    Alternate Decal Method

    • Print your picture or photo on wax paper.

    • Similar to above technique, wrap the printed wax paper around the candle. You may omit the double sided tape though.

    • Use a hot air blower / hair drier to blow warm air over the candle. The type used to seal shrink wrap will do just fine. Apply warm air all over the wax paper till the wax melts and attaches firmly to the surface of the candle.

    • Allow to cool, taking care to remove any air bubbles trapped between the candle and the wax paper.
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    Image courtsey maveric2003
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    Image credit maveric2003

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    Embedding Method

    1. Print out the picture on plain white paper. Do not use fancy paper or card paper, simple white paper will do just fine. Crop and trim the photo as per your requirements.
    2. Prepare a water bath. This can simply be a bucket filled with the appropriate amount of water.
    3. We will need some high-melting–point wax for making the candle. Use wax having a melting point 150°F or higher.
    4. Melt the wax over a hot water bath in a metal container or flask. You may add stearic acid to increase wax opacity or any dye or perfume of your choice to make colored/perfumed candles.
    5. When the temperature is in the range of 180-190°F, pour the wax into a metal mould, leaving the top half an inch empty. The mould should preferably be cylindrical in shape, though you can experiment with other shapes too.
    6. One tip here is that you may pre-coat the mould with silicone spray to aid in removal of the candle later on.
    7. Submerge your photo inside the warm wax. You may hold the photo with forceps for this step. Let it remain for a minute in the warm wax, so that it fully absorbs the liquid wax and any air bubbles are displaced. Try to remove as much of the air bubbles as possible.
    8. Using a pre-warmed spoon or ladle, hold the photo against the inner surface of the wax-filled mould. Pre-warming the spoon is necessary to keep the wax in a molten state.
    9. Immerse a cloth/towel in cold water and apply it on the exterior of the mould, in the area where you’re holding the photo. The cold cloth causes the wax in that area to solidify. Repeat this till you can see that the photo is firmly embedded in the solid wax.
    10. Start applying the cold cloth to the entire outer surface of the mould, so that all the wax along the outer circumference solidifies. Alternatively, dip the entire mould into a water bath containing cold water, making sure no water enters the mould.
    11. The wax all along the outer periphery of the candle solidifies. Keep it in the cold water bath till the thickness of the wax is around a quarter to half an inch.
    12. If you need the candle to be a hurricane shell, you may pour out the core molten wax and place the shell in a cool area/refrigerator to set fully.
    13. If you want it to be a normal candle, insert a wick in the centre of the mould and place it in a cool area to solidify fully. You may hold the wick upright by a clip attached to an external hook or stand.
    14. Once fully set, the wax should contract a little and easily slide out from the mould.

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    Hope you have fun trying out these methods to create that perfect gift or decorative candle. Do share images of your craft with us!