Poured Candle Technique
A poured candle simply means a candle that was made by pouring melted wax into a form so that the candle takes on the form when hardened. Therefore, poured candles can be container candles, candles that were formed in a mold or cast candles. Container candles are the easiest to make as the wax is simply poured into the container in which it will be burned.
Pouring a container candle - Find a container that has a wide opening, is not deeper than about 5 inches, and is made of metal, ceramic or glass. Choose a paraffin wax or wax blend with a low melting point and a medium cored wick. Determine how much wax you will need to fill your container/s. Start melting your wax in a double boiler or crock pot. Cut your cored wick to a length 1 inch longer than the height of your jar and tab one end. Warm your candle containers to reduce wax shrinkage. You can warm them in some hot water. When your wax is at a temperature of about 150F, you can color it and add your fragrance. Pour a 1/2 inch layer of wax into your container and quickly center the wick tab in the wax and hold it until it won't move. Let the wax cool a bit and then fill up the rest of the container to about 1/2 inch of the top. The wax will shrink a bit as it cools so when you have a thin layer of hardened wax on the surface, poke some holes around the wick all the way to the bottom of the container and then pour in some more hot wax to fill up the holes. You will probably need to repeat this repour a few times until all the wax is hardened. Trim the wick to 1/2 inch from the surface of the candle. You will know you have the right combination of wax and wick if your candle burns with an evenly liquefied surface without creating a puddle of wax that drowns out the wick. Your wick is too small for the diameter of the candle or for the melting point of the wax you chose if it leaves walls of wax on the side of the container.
Making candles using molds - Candle molds can be simple one piece molds, or 2 piece molds that allow for complex shapes or even disposable molds that can be torn away once the candle has hardened. Even an empty milk carton can be used to mold a candle.
Generally, a one piece candle mold comes with a hole in the base that allows you to thread the wick through it. You then use a wick sealer and screw to hold it in place. The other end of the wick is usually wrapped around a rod or pencil that rests along the upper rim of the mold, holding the wick taut and centered. A store bought mold will come with more specific instructions for use. If you are using a homemade mold such as a milk carton, you can make a small hole in the bottom of the carton, thread the wick through and then seal the hole with some modeling clay or putty or tape. This will become the top of your candle so make sure to leave excess wick outside of the hole. If you can't (or don't want to) make a hole in the mold, you can pour your candle and then using a hot knitting needle, make a hole straight through the center of the candle. Push a primed wick up through the hole and then fill the hole with wax. You can also hang a weighted wick (use a metal washer as a weight) from a rod or pencil and then pour your candle.
To pour your candle - melt your wax blend to about 165F in a double boiler or crock pot and add your wax additives, color and scent. Have your mold wicked and ready to go. If you are using a rigid mold, lightly coat the inside with mold release (not necessary if you are using a rubber mold or disposable tear away mold). Pour a 1/2 inch layer of wax into the mold to help seal the wick hole. When your wax reaches the right temperature for pouring (your mold instructions should have a suggested wax temperature), pour the wax slowly down the side of the mold to prevent air bubbles. If you are using a water bath to cool/shrink the candle quickly, transfer the mold to the water making sure no water runs into the candle. Make sure the whole depth of the candle is submerged and weigh it down with something heavy so it won't bob around. Once a thin layer on the surface has hardened, poke holes around the wick down the length of the candle to release the air bubbles and fill the holes with more wax. Make sure that the wax doesn't run over the sides of the candle between the wall of the mold and the side of the candle that has shrunk and pulled away from the mold. Repeat the repouring until the surface no longer caves. Wait until the candle is completely cool and hard before attempting to remove it doesn't become distorted from the handling. If you find it difficult to remove the candle from the mold even after it has hardened, try popping it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Variation - you can pour a candle with different colored layers by pouring a color and then waiting until it hardens and then pouring another color. The harder you let each layer get between pours, the more sharp the color change. If you want the colors to blend a little between layers, pour your layers when only about 1/8 inch of the previous layer has hardened. The second color will melt the first and the colors will blend a bit.
A chunk candle is made by filling the mold with chunked up pieces of colored wax and the pouring a clear or contrasting colored wax over the chunks. You will need to tap the mold around to ensure that air doesn't become trapped inside the candle around the chunks.
To make candles with objects (sea shells, botanicals, decorative objects) on the outer surface of the candle, place the objects along the mold wall and hold them in place with chunks of wax the same color as the rest of your candle. Then pour your melted wax to fill up the mold. Tap the mold around lightly to release trapped air bubbles. The closer you can get the objects to the wall of the mold, the more they will show through the surface of the candle. Don't use stearic acid in these candles because it will opacify the wax and the objects will not show through. These candles are best poured in a larger diameter mold otherwise, the objects will become loose as the candle burns. If the objects do not show well through the surface, use quick even swipes of a propane torch to melt the outer surface of the candle to expose more of the objects.
A layered color effect
You can make a candle that has a light colored exterior with a darker colored or contrasting colored center. To do this, pour a candle as you would normally and wait until a thin layer of wax hardens on the surface. Using a knife, carefully carve off the hardened top surface leaving a 1/8 inch wall and pour the liquid wax from the center back into your melting pot. You can either deepen this wax further by adding more dye or use another color to fill in the candle. The deeper color on the inside of the candle will create an interesting look. You can even carve designs onto the surface of the candle to expose the inner color using a hot carving tool.