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diy project: ashley’s vintage tin candles

by Kate Pruitt

Every time I stroll through a thrift store, flea market or garage sale, vintage tins beckon me to take them home. I always justify my purchase, since tins are great alternatives for small storage and unconventional gift wrapping. Nearly every tin I purchase is under $1.00 and has a perfectly weathered patina. I decided to make use of my assortment of tins and create unique candles for my home and as gifts. Candle making is an art, but even a novice can make a basic, beautifully scented candle without all the detailed know-how. Instead of a traditional glass or ceramic container, I now have a cute vintage food tin filling my kitchen with a pleasant aroma!

There are numerous resources available if you are interested in a more technical approach to candle making. I wanted a simple method and didn’t want to experiment with creating my own scents, so I purchased affordable, scented candles that I liked. This could be considered a cheater’s version of candle making, but if you don’t have the time or desire to dive deeply into the process, this technique provides a quick and satisfying alternative. — Ashley

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


  • metal tins (make sure they don’t leak by filling them with water first)
  • candle wax (you can use old candles, basic candles or an assortment of waxes available at craft stores)
  • candle wicks
  • tin base for wicks
  • double boiler
  • wooden chopsticks or skewers
  • a candle making handbook for more details and troubleshooting (Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Crafts includes simple, basic instructions)


1. If your wicks are not pre-waxed, you will want to coat them with a thin layer of wax. Melt a small amount of wax in the top section of the double boiler. Place the uncoated wicks in the wax, coat with wax and remove to harden.

2. Prepare your tins by cleaning them. Add the tin base to the wicks and place inside the metal tins. Dabbing a bit of melted wax on the bottom of the wick tin base will help hold it in place. Use a skewer to stretch over the metal tin, then wrap the wicks around the skewer to hold in place.

3. Melt your desired amount of wax. Different types of wax have different melting points. Wax will not boil, but it is extremely flammable. You will want to take every necessary safety precaution before melting the wax. I used basic scented candles and melted them down.

4. Once melted, pour the wax into the vintage tins. If the top of the candle does not dry smoothly (especially around the wick), this could be a sign of air bubbles. Use a wooden skewer to poke down into the candle (when still soft) to release the air. Add melted wax to the top to create a smooth finish.

5. Let the wax harden for about 24 hours. Trim excess wick and enjoy for yourself or as a gift!

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  • What a great idea for these beautiful old tins. I have several and really didn’t have anything to do with them other than admire them. This is an awsome website. Thank you!

  • This is so great! A friend gave me a bunch of tin containers from the U.K. a few years back and they have just been hanging around uselessly since then. I am definetly going to try this during the weekend!

  • Can u soak the wicks in essential oils before waxing to get a better scent if using soy wax? I have a soy wax candle in a tin that smells yummy as is but when I light it it just smells of burning wax.

    • when making candles you dnt have to use wax at all i use crisco oil for my candle i melt it the add the sent i want to use then i add crayons to the crisco that i am melting then i glue the wick to the bottom then i use a stick to hold the wick in place then i poor it in to the tin or mason jar n let it cool and I’m done other then cutting the wick and i am done

  • My heart swooons when I see tea tins too! I love the florals ones have built up quite a little collection. I use them to hold trinkets but now (thanks to you) I have another neat way to show them off. THANKS!

  • I have a few tins that would make excellent candles, but they leak! Does anyone know how I could seal the tins so they are water-tight?

  • yard sales, Goodwill stores etc. you can buy bulk used candles cheap, usually in a bag for a couple of bucks. Careful on the caulk what is the burning point? Put the tins on a trivet to keep them off of a surface because of the heat. Another way of melting wax is to use an electric hot pot w/ dial for temperature – not sure if I am using the correct term but a few years back they were popular for people to use for heating soup in at the office etc. or an electric fondue pot these can be bought at yard sales. Also to help with clean up use an old jelly roll pan to put the tins in when you are pouring and spills are caught. I also use an old oil cloth table cloth to cover counter and floor. Remember to save the wicks from the melted candles to reuse them. I have been doing projects like this for years – recycling!! Take an old Christmas card front & type on the back directions for burning the candle & safety.

  • Love this ,my little boy and I are going to do this project for christmas gifts!!! We have a place called the exchange where I live ,where you can bring in old things(tins.pot,pans, sofas ect) and take what you want. I’ve collected some free tins and old pots to cook it up in…Thanks for the great idea

  • I just did this with old teacups I bought at a thrift store. It worked really well and looks super cute :) I used an old tin can to melt the wax

  • Well, that was the messiest thing ever!
    Apparently old tins very often leak…
    So I wrapped my kitchen in grease prove paper to prevent it from getting everywhere.
    When I went to pick up the wax (I did 40 tins, so old candles weren’t enough) I was told by a candle making teacher to be careful since the seams from the tins cans can occasionally burst from the heat differences. So always put something underneath when burning!

  • This is a great tutorial, just a few extra bits:
    You can get the candle stuff from ebay -but buy in bulk if your planning to make lots as will save on postage etc.
    When buying wicks, be aware of the width of your tin as the wick width/size relates to the width of the candle…..
    Also, I’ve used soya wax and it cames off pretty easy with hot soapy water……
    Soya wax can be melted in a microwave, that way you don’t need a double boiler, just a micro-safe container :)

    Hope this helps!

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