I'VE TRIED TO COVER THE BASICS AND INCLUDE SOME INTERESTING TIDBITS OF INFORMATION FOR YOU TO PERUSE. Enjoy!
Early candles were made of vegetable waxes produced from plants such as bayberries, candelilla leaves, candletree bark, esparto grass, and various varieties of palm leaves such as carnauba and ouricury. They were also made of animal tissue and secretions, such as spermaceti(whale oil), ambergris, and beeswax (insect secretions). Sometimes entire animals such as the stormy petrel and the candlefish of the Pacific Northwest were threaded with a wick and burned as candles. Tallow candles were made of sheep, cow, or pig fat. All these candles were rather crude, time-consuming to make and smoky.
Of the two kinds of candle fuel, beeswax was considered the better since it burned cleaner than tallow and had a lovely odor compared to tallow's rancid, smoky smell. Being scarce, beeswax was expensive. Only churches and the wealthy could afford beeswax candles.
By the 17th century, European state edicts controlled the weight, size and cost of candles. In 1709, an act of the English Parliament banned the making of candles at home unless a license was purchased and a tax paid.
Matches were invented in 1827, using poisonous phoshorus but were improved by the end of the century, eliminating the need for sparking with flint, steel, and tinder, or for keeping a fire burning 24 hours a day.
Probably most important of all, Paraffin was refined from oil around 1850, making petroleum based candles possible. The combination of paraffin, which burns clean and without odor, and stearins, which harden soft paraffin, with new wick technologies developed in the nineteenth century, revolutionized the candle industry, giving us the tools and materials we still use for candle manufacturing.
Container: Any candle that is poured into a container and intended to be burned in the container is a container candle. These candles are often made of soft wax and would not be able to stand on their own outside their enclosures.
The container also prevents soft wax from dripping. Since these candles are safely contained in a vessel, they are often used in restaurants and in religious rituals that require long-burning candles.
Pillar: A thick candle with a geometrical cross section such as a circle, oval, or hexagon is called a pillar. It is usueally referred to by its diameter followed by its height. For example, a 3-by 6-inch pillar would be 3 inches in diameter and 6 inches high. Some pillars come in standard sized for commercial and religious use but you can make many variations of pillars by using molds.
Novelty: These are irregularly shaped candles made by molding, sculpting and/or pouring.
Taper: These are the long cylindrical candles that kindle memories of historic candle-dipping. Tapers can be made by dipping wicks into melted wax, by pouring wax into a mold, and by rolling wax around a wick. No matter the method, the result is always candles made to fit into a holder.
Tapers are generally made 1/2 inch or 7/8 inch in diameter at the base because most holders are designed to fit these two sizes. There are, of course, exceptions, such as birthday candles (3/16 inch) and Danish tapers (1/4 inch). Some specialty candleholders are designed to hold a taper larger than 7/8 inch.
Votive and Tea Lights: Although these candles originated in the church, the term now refers to small plug-type candles that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter by 2 to 3 inches high. This shape has become popular for scented candles because their small size allows them to fit easily into small rooms, such as bathrooms.
As votives melt and become liquid in their containers, the wick uses up all the liquid fuel. If you burn a votive on a plate, the burn time will be shorter because the wax will drip and the wick will be unable to use it.
Tea lights are small votives used to warm pots of potpourri and to heat foods. They fit in smaller-than-standard votive cups.
Cast and Molded: These candles are made by pouring wax into a preformed mold or shape. Molds can be made of disposable materials such as milk cartons and sand, purchased in metal or plastic, found at garage sales and on the beach, or created by you out of rubber, latex, or silicone rubber. You can make any of the candle types mentioned in the previous section with the molding and casting method.
Dipped: These candles are made by repeatedly dipping a piece of wick into melted wax in a container, or diping can. The results are called tapers because this is the natural shape that occurs as a result of dipping.
Drawn: This is an old method made new by modern technology. It involves pulling long lengths of wick (thousands of yards) through melted wax. This method works well for making small diameter candles such as birthday candles, or the long waxed wicks used to light multiple candles called wax matches. In earlier times, some lamps were designed to hold wound lengths of waxed wick, which wer unwound as they burned down. This method allowed a long burning candle without a thick wax product.
Extruded: This is a machine method that pushes wax out through a shaped template, much like making cookies with a cookie gun. Once they're extruded, these very long candles are then sliced into their proper lengths. This method requires accurate heating and cooling of the wax in order to ensure that the intended shape holds as the wax comes through the die.
Poured: This term refers to an old-fashioned method of pouring wax repeatedly over a wick to build it up to candle size.
Pressed: This is a newer method of making commercial candles in which wax is atomized onto a cooling drum, forming wax beads or granules. These beads are then compressed into molds, where they bind to form a candle. The commercial advantage of pressed candles is that they can be removed from molds much more quickly than molten-poured molded candles.
Rolled: These candles are made by rolling sheets of wax around a wick. Tapers, pillars, and novelty candles can be made with this method.
Candles are simple to make, require few special tools or materials, and are powerful focal points for visualization and personal power.
You can certainly run to the store to purchase candles for rituals, but those you've made yourself will personalize your magic to an even greater extent
It was recently brought to my attention that I left out a few necessary instruction in this candlemaking guide. I was going to just change the info I had presented here but then thought that it might be better if I simply post the information as it was sent to me. Warm thanks to Mia for these additions!
1. when melting wax, it is important to bring it to the appropriate temperature; for basic gulf-wax paraffin like you get at the hardware store that's about 130-150. but if you make it too cool, tapers come out lumpy and cast candles are very difficult to remove from the mold because they don't contract enough. if it's too hot, tapers take forever to build up, and cast candles shrink too much and exhibit white marks on the outside and sometimes tiny crackle effects and/or cracking. so, right wax, right temperature. you know it's too cool if it isn't perfectly clear and it's too hot when you start seeing heat swirls in it - like it's behaving like cooking oil when that starts to get HOT. but a candy thermometer for 5 bucks is probably the best insurance you can get for producing consistent candles
2. for a container candle the container works better if its warm. but if you will be unmolding the candle, it better to get the wax temp right and have the mold cold. it gives a smoother finish and helps the wax set up quicker. it also causes the outside layer of wax to shrink quickly even before the mold is completely filled, so it makes to easier to remove.
3. when you make a molded candle, tie a tight knot in the wick. thread the wick UP through from the bottom to the inside and pull it up taut so the knot is pressed against the bottom of the mold. put the wick-rod across the top of the mold and tie a half-hitch keeping the wick taut. now, on the bottom of the mold if its metal, find a small screw and tighten it into the hole around the wick (professional molds actually comer with a wick screw and it's easier to just wrap the wick around it instead of knotting it). then no matter what type of mold, put some sticky putty (candle putty is best, but others work) or even krazy glue if this is a disposable mold like a milk carton, anything to make it water tight. test the seal with water, and be sure to dry the mold completely afterwards. if the mold is metal, put it into a bath of water to get a really smooth finish (this also helps keep the bottom from leaking 'cos it sets the wax real quick)
4. this is REALLY important. the wick type and size MUST be matched to the diameter of the candle and the type of wax. and braided wicks should always be used in pillar candles. an under sized wick will give a really weird burn... it'll drift through the center of the candle and never give a complete burn but it's more annoying than dangerous, and the candle may become self-extinguishing. but if done properly and undersized wick can create a wax shell that can be refilled with tea-lights or votives. this is what i do on my carved unity candles so they can be everlasting. but an over-rated wick IS dangerous. it burns too hot and causes the shell of the candle to fail too soon, thus the melted fuel is not contained within the shell until it is consumed and it will spill out. also the wick will not properly bend over on itself and consume itself, so it will need to be frequently trimmed or it will become a real smoker. if you've ever used a Yankee candle. you've seen this. but as best i can tell, that's done on purpose. the wick is properly sized to the container, to give a complete burn, but the wax is very soft because of the amount of scent oil so, in effect the wick is slightly over-rated. it seems people would rather have it smoke a bit and trim the wick than have a bunch of really expensive wax that didn't melt. metal core wick should be used in votives, tea-lights and other container candles so that when there is a lot of liquid fuel, the wick doesn't tip over or collapse. also, if you use a metal core wick with a wick holder at the bottom when pouring cast candles the way you described, it's much easier because it'll pretty much stand on its own with just a bit of support and it won't float out of center the way a wax primed wick will. since you have to get wicking somewhere and most places that have normal braided wick also have metal core and wick holders.
For an easy recipe for scented candles using a mold and pariffin wax click here
Candle magic can be quite a complicated procedure, but these steps should help make it a little easier.
A cleansed and consecrated candle should be used for one purpose only. If you prepare a candle for prosperity purposes, don't use it for anything else. You should decide how often and for how long a time your are going to burn your candle. Choose your candle size according to your purpose. If your goal is very important, you may wish to burn your candle every day for several days, which means you must use a very large candle. An alternative is to use several smaller candles and burn one each day. If you choose to use smaller candles remember to cleanse and consecrate each one before use.
When you light your candle, do so consciously. Be aware that fire has an affinity with the spiritual plane.
For some examples of candle magick, Click Here
Remember the Rule of Three and the Wiccan's Rede: "An it harm none, do what ye will".