DIYdiy projects

diy project: kate’s tin travel candle

by Grace Bonney

i can’t get enough of these altoids tins! they are so useful. this week, there was a small earthquake in my area and it got me motivated to start getting prepared for emergencies. i covered this tin with pretty paper to make a nice travel candle (mint scented…get it??), but you could make a bunch of these quickly for emergency kits, camping, etc. enjoy! – kate

CLICK HERE for the full project instructions after the jump!


What You’ll Need:

1. altoids tins
2. candle wicks
3. wax (i used microwaveable soy wax from a craft store)
4. mod podge (a glue/sealant available at craft stores. it is non-toxic and non-flammable
5. decorative paper
6. pencil
7. scissors
8. paint brush
9. wax coloring or scents (optional)

1. clean the altoids tin thoroughly.
2. trace the top and bottom on your paper and carefully cut out shapes.


3. measure the width of the sides for the top and bottom. for the bottom, measure to the bumps on the front side where the top and bottom connect. (my altoids tin is .25 in and .5 in thick) and cut a long strip in each width.
4. separate the top and bottom of the tin. spread a layer of mod podge around the rim of the bottom tin and wrap the strip around. press down and cut off any excess paper. smooth down the edges with your fingers to wipe off any extra glue.


5. spread mod podge on the flat base of the tin and place the paper over it. smooth out any bumps and snip around the sides to clean the edges.
6. repeat with the top of the tin. you can cover the holes and bumps and then cut them off later.
7. when the papers are all attached, paint a thin layer of mod podge over all of the papered part of the the tins. this smooths the edges and seals the paper to protect it.
8. let dry completely and reattach the two pieces. clean any glue off the inside of the tin with a paper towel and soap.
9. glue the wicks onto the base.
10. heat the wax and pour to directly below the hinges in the back.
11. let the wax dry. trim the wicks.
12. if you want, you can attach a small pack of matches to the inside of the top lid so you always have a light!



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  • This is amazing! I love it! About how long did it take? Could a person conceivably make a bunch or are they pretty time intensive?

  • I’ve used these little tins for many things including storing used exacto blades, mini books, etc – but THIS is fantastic! Very inspired and practical. Thanks so much!
    Brenda Pinnick

  • Doesn’t the tin get very hot, though? Probably need to put it on a protected surface while burning. Cute project!

  • You know, these would be great to put in welcome baskets for out of town guests at a wedding. You could also make a smaller version with used up lip balm tins or smaller mint tins. This is totally cute.

  • My Material Void: We do! (they’re contagious!) Keep your eyes peeled
    at newsagents, they’re usually with the gum, polos & fisherman’s friends ;)

  • so cute! and could i ask where you got the plant in the vase? i’ve been looking for those things everywhere.

  • Oh! I already have that kind of wax on hand! What a great idea.

    It makes me wish that I had let my husband keep his collection of empty altoids tins from his childhood. (He had something like 97 of them!)

  • My mom always brings a “travel candle” wherever she goes- says it brings a warmth to even the most sterile hotel room. I think I might just make her a few of these!

  • What a fabulous idea!!!! If your don’t mind I am going to blog about this on my blog tomorrow…really a great idea!!

  • I love making things out of altoid tins!

    I think a great alternative to store bought wax would be the left over wax in a larger candle jar after the wick has burned out. It’s easy enough to melt it in a tin can and then remold.

    I’ve also seen emergency survival altoid tins out there as well…but the candle tins are much more cute (o:

  • So sweet! But I do hope you mean that Mod Podge is NONflammable, not INflammable – the latter means it will burn, which seems unsafe in this case.

  • hey everyone!
    thanks for the feedback! here are some answers: 1. the flowers are billy bobs (or billy boys), i got them at the sf flower mart, but i think fresh cut florists should have them. they dry nicely and last forever. 2.these tins so super fast, you can finish in less than an hour. 3. i think the wicks would last for at least a couple hours. and jess i love the idea of using old leftover wax! great idea.

  • Another less pretty (actually, ugly!), but really helpful idea is to mix the wax with sawdust. This burns HOT for a long time. Useful as a fire-starter or as a burner under a tin or a candle.

  • So cute! I told my husband he has to start eating Altoids for dinner! I can’t wait to try this. Love the DIY ideas!

  • such a great idea! i also use altoid tins for gift cards. i use paper on the inside, as well, and attach any little thing i have in my stash like a little heart or unusual sticker. after i put the gift card inside, i tie a ribbon around the tin. makes such a great little gift.

  • This is bringing back memories because in high school I did this to Altoid tins and we sold them to raise money for cancer research!

    But, wow, I love this concept of pretty survival gear. I think you’re on to something. My boyfriend is very into survival and we have so much gear all around our apartment. Maybe more people, ladies especially, would be interested in being prepared if it were visually appealing!

  • We do have Altoids in the uk My Material Void. I found ’em in Waitrose the other day

  • Funny that someone commented on wishing they had Altoids in the UK… they were originally produced by Callard & Bowser and made in the UK… I remember buying them as an import from a gourmet store in the late 80s.

  • I use altoid tins to store those pesky nails, screws, and pushpins that fall to the bottom of my tool box. It’s no fun to get poked when you reach for a tool. This is a much prettier idea :)

  • Hi,

    Very cool. Where did you get the scented paper from?
    I just recently did my own altoid tin recon and posted about it.

  • beautiful!
    i use – unaltered – altoid tins for all sorts of travel storage.
    *the smaller gum tins are really good for Qtips.

  • Adorable as these are, you shouldn’t use candles after an earthquake. Broken gas mains and all that. I know flashlights are so utilitarian, but you should have one in every room.

  • It was s o great o stumble upon this site. I loved the idea of using those cans!! Thanks for being so creative, I am a copy catter myself.

  • What a wonderful idea! I currently store metal letters in mine and I made a tiny jewelry box for my daughter. Would love to try out the candle. Makes a great gift!

  • You might not want to make this with mod podge: Inflammable means that it IS flammable. look it up :-)

    • ashley

      thanks for spotting that- i looked it up to double check and mod podge is NON-flammable. so it’s safe to use for this. i changed the wording, thanks for catching it :)


  • I took a thick stout Yankee candle. Cut out the wick. Crumbled the wax and did it with a second one (matching color and scent). Then I melted the wax to mold it and I stuck in the wicks at the last seconds of cooling so they’d be stuck in! Then I trimmed the wicks down and I always carry two. One in my pocket and my pack. With a BIC next to each. Great for some relaxation. Especially if I can’t fall asleep. I have about 10 of these made :O

  • If I bought a 10 pound bag of wax, would you know how many candles can be made from that?