In another post, we looked at how to make hand dipped tallow candles. They’re a versatile slow burning candle that produces bright light without smell. However, hand dipping candles can be tricky to master, with candle wicks easily becoming tangled and clumping together. Arms can easily become tired from the repeated dipping and holding as the wax sets. Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, hand dipped candles can be lumpy, oddly shaped, or just too thin to be functional.

This is where making poured candles can be a more practical option. Poured candles are faster to make, require less clean up, and use every last bit of tallow. Plus, you don’t have to worry about making sure they’re the right size to fit a candlestick, let alone making sure that you even have candlesticks in the house.

Whether you’re making them for your emergency backup lighting or as a nontoxic alternative to store bought candles -and a cheaper alternative to eco-friendly candles- or are simply looking for a DIY gift idea, poured candles are a low-mess craft that is both practical and frugal.

You can use the fat of any animal you raise or hunt for food to make your tallow candles, including lard (rendered pig fat) which is unsuitable for hand dipped tallow candles but perfect for poured tallow candles.

Key Points on How to Make Poured Tallow Candles

Rendering Tallow

Tallow refers to the rendered fat of any animal other than pigs. Rendered pig fat, on the other hand, is called lard. It differs not just in name but in consistency (tallow is firm like a bar of soap whereas lard is creamy like a salve.) There are other slight differences when it comes to making soap, but for poured candles you can use either or a combination of the two with great success.

And, in case you’re wondering, no: a poured candle made with lard will not make your home smell like bacon. We’re just as disappointed over this fact as you are.

An Image of Rendering Tallow With Animal Fat of How to Make Poured Tallow Candles

To render tallow, you need animal fat. Purists will tell you that the best tallow is made from beef fat, specifically the leaf fat as found around the kidneys and a few other internal organs. But, you can make tallow from fat found anywhere on the body of any animal. That means, that if you could get enough, you could even make tallow from chicken fat. Personally, I like to use venison fat, as you can get quite a bit off of a deer, especially from around the rib cage during early winter. But, feel free to use what you have on hand or to even blend fat from different animals together to ensure you have enough tallow to make your candles, with plenty delicious tallow leftover for cooking.

Melt the fat in either a crock pot or a cooking pot on the stove. Don’t worry about having the fat trimmed and cleaned up. Any remaining bits of muscle will cook off and float to the top. You can scoop it out as you stir the slowly melting fat periodically. Be sure to keep the heat low so as to not scorch the fat.

Once the fat is completely melted down, you can strain through cheesecloth to remove any impurities. Straining the melted fat through a colander lined with cheesecloth and into an old coffee can or another cooking pot makes it easier to continue with the next step in making your poured candles.​

Materials Needed

  • Heat proof jars (small canning jars are highly recommended, pint size works great)
  • Candle wicks (you can buy them cut to size and with weighted metal clamps on the ends, these are ideal)
  • Two pencils
An Image of Heat proof Jars for How to Make Poured Tallow Candles

When it comes to making poured candles, the trickiest part is making sure the wick is straight. Once placed in the jar, the act of pouring in the tallow (or wax) causes the wick to move. Otherwise, the only thing you need to worry about is having the tallow thoroughly melted.

If you’re working with tallow you previously made, you’ll need to heat it back up and melt it down. Take care to heat it gently and stir frequently. This will prevent it from burning and help it to melt faster. As it warms, prepare the jars and wicks.​

Preparing the Jars

Set the jars on a flat surface where they can remain undisturbed until set. Place a wick in each jar with the metal clamp on the end of the wick as close to center as possible. Set two pencils across the top of the jar, parallel to each other, with the candle wick between them. They will keep the wick in place as you pour the melted tallow into the jar.

An Image of Preparing the Jars for How to Make Poured Tallow Candles

Adding Scents and Color (Optional)

Once the tallow is thoroughly melted, you can add candle coloring chips or scents, such as essential oils, to the tallow. The color chips will need a few moments to melt and you’ll need to stir the tallow well to disperse the color throughout. If you do add scents, be sure to stir the tallow to allow for even scent among your finished candles.

An Image of Adding Scents and Color for How to Make Poured Tallow Candles

Pouring the Candles

Remove the melted tallow from heat and carefully pour it into each jar, taking care not to pour it too quickly to prevent splashing and also to keep the wick in place.

An Image of Pouring the Candles for How to Make Poured Tallow Candles

Once all of your jars have been filled, let them sit overnight before moving or before removing the pencils. After allowing another day for them to be thoroughly set, you can begin using them.

Should you decide to give them as gifts, you can tie ribbon, jute, or even rawhide about the neck of the jar for a decorative touch.​

Final Thoughts on Poured Tallow Candles

Handmade poured tallow candles are a great way to take your outdoor self-sufficiency skills and apply them toward a practical household use. These candles can be used as emergency lighting should the power fail. And should things become truly serious, they can even be used as a food source (as long as they aren’t colored or scented.) 

As these candles are so simple to make, yet environmentally friendly and contain no allergens, they are also a great item that you can make and sell for profit along with other skills and crafts you may make and offer.

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