Wonder Wednesday #28: No Wax Solstice Candles

You won’t believe how easy and fun it is to make your own candles to light the longest night of the year! And they make great gifts for all the other December holidays too!!

No Wax Winter Solstice Candles



Vegetable shortening

Glass canning jars I use the jelly size. You could use any size you like, even baby food! And they don’t have to be new! Just wash them out and remove the labels so they look nice.

Cotton yarn cut to lengths of 9 inches

Pencil per jar

A penny per jar

A pot or skillet to heat on the stove

A funnel


Essential oils or food grade extracts (I use peppermint, but almond would be nice.)

Food coloring

Printer stickers, name tag size enough for each jar



Wash the jars and remove the labels.

Cut lengths of all cotton yarn 9 inches long. This can be approximate, but I wouldn’t go any shorter than 9 inches.


Tie one end around the pencil

Tie the other around the penny. You can also use a washer for this, but a penny is cheaper!

Set aside.



Set your jars out on the counter where you are heating the shortening.

Place the funnel in the top of the first one.


Melt the shortening. The amount of shortening you use will depend on how many candles you are making and what size. About 4 heaping serving size scoops of shortening per jelly jar is about the right amount. I heated in a skillet because mine needed a little seasoning, but a saucepan would work perfectly too, especially one with a pouring spout.

Heat the shortening on the stove. BE VERY CAREFUL. Heat only until melted, NO FURTHER. We do not want a grease fire on our hands!!!!!! I had my electric oven on 5 and then lowered it to 3 once the big chunks were melted.


Once the shortening has just liquified, VERY CAREFULLY pour it through the funnel into the first jar. Fill about 3/4 full about up to the lid ridge looks nice.

If you want to add essential oil, extract, or food coloring, do it at this point. I added 3 tbs of organic natural peppermint extract per jar. I chose extract instead of the more pricey oils because I had it on hand and the size of my jars would take to much essential oil. I chose to not add color so the candles would be snowy white.


Stir the liquid shortening and oil or extract to integrate.

Slowly submerge the cotton yarn wick into the jar of liquid shortening.


Roll up the extra yarn around the pencil and balance the pencil across the top of the jar. Try to adjust it so the wick hangs straight down to get a good burning wick.

Let cool.

Repeat for the rest of the jars, heating up more shortening as needed.


While the candle jars are cooling, decorate the name tag stickers!


Once the candles have cooled:

Cut the wicks to no higher than the height of the jar

Attach the label stickers


Clean up is easy because there is no messy melted wax to deal with! Just wash the shortening as you normally would wash a dish!

Light up the winter solstice night with your homemade candles, grab some friends, and celebrate!!



Winter Solstice children’s books to read by candlelight:

The Longest Night by Marion Dane Bauer – This is a great little story about how it is a small chickadee, rather than the fox or moose, who the wind summons to bring the dawn after the longest night.

The Shortest Day by Wendy Pfeffer – Learn about the history and customs of Winter Solstice from times past and activities to do to celebrate today!

The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice by Carolyn McVickar Edwards – Wonder filled stories from around the globe celebrating the longest night of the year.

Share pics of your candles and solstice celebration fun on Instagram #wingswormsandwonder

Seeds to Sprout:

8 more days to ensure holiday delivery of Wings, Worms, and Wonder books and garden accessories! Remember to use the discount code celebrate2014 at checkout! Visit the shop

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About the author 

Kelly Johnson's passion is helping enthusiastic gardeners & journalers like you grow nature inspired art journal routines & gardens one seed at a time.
  1. I have just made several of these and they only burn about two hours and then go out… I even replaced my cotton string with wicks from Michaels and they are still going out! Help please

    1. Annette, They do burn pretty quickly. no need for worry. They are just a simple candle with a focus on easy making.

      1. I’m sorry that was your experience. It has worked fine for me and many people I know many times. Perhaps it has something to do with the humidity or the ambient air temperature in your area keeping the crisco from re-solidifying. Fortunately, this is just one simple free resource activity and there are many other candle making options out there in the world to try.

    1. Thanks for the tip Eri. You only need a drop or 2 so it doesn’t really cause a problem because the ratio is so tiny. Beet powder or spirulina powder are fun ways to keep it natural while bringing vibrant color.

  2. I used the wrong kind of yarn (mine only burnt about 5 minutes), but I can easily melt and re-do. I added different spices to mine, and a tiny bit of coconut oil (ran out of Crisco). They made my home smell incredible, even only burning for a few minutes! Thanks for this tutorial. It reminds me of something my grandma and I did when I was a child. <3

    1. Sounds like a greta experiement and that you are ready for next time! I’m glad you had fun with it!

  3. Pretty simple. I added some wax with mine. I did a burn test, both of mine burned 24/7 total burn hours 108-110 hours. They were in 2 cup glass B&B candle jars.

  4. I melted a color crayon for the color! I used small Starbucks Frappuccino bottles and left the label on.

    1. Dear Celeste, That is awesome!! I was actually wondering about mixing a crayon in for color! 🙂 Kelly

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