How to Make Tallow Candles: Non-Toxic Candles


I am here to teach you how to make tallow candles: the non-toxic candle that can still bring that peaceful energy we all crave!

many different recycled candle jars with tallow candles in it. a woman's hand is trimming the wick

Tallow candles aren’t anything new, in fact they were early candles that were used during Roman times. Which makes sense as tallow was more locally available than beeswax.

Homemade tallow candles give off a peaceful energy, as they are a good use of something otherwise sometimes thrown out and don’t give off toxic chemicals.

Making candles is one of the first things I like to do when I get my hands on tallow. We eat it of course, but it is a good idea to make candles too!

What is tallow?

Tallow is something that is rendered from animal fat. Usually from deer fat or beef fat, but can come from any ruminants. Beef tallow candles is what I am making today.

You can pick up the animal fat from your local butcher. Sometimes they will be happy to get rid of it and other times you will have to pay. I have a good friend who’s family raises beef. She gets back all the bones and beef fat from the butchers that comes from their beef.

Recently she generously gave some to me and I am forever grateful! Making tallow candles is a great way to use up so much tallow!

Are tallow candles toxic?

Modern candles, that you purchase at the store, contain paraffin wax. These paraffin candles are toxic! I didn’t know this until recently.

I was burning a cinnamon candle I purchased at the store for Christmas time and I noticed that it was burning my eyes every time I had it burning.

This lead met investigate what was actually in that candle! Lets just say I was shocked to discover what is allowed to be put into modern candles.

Anyway, tallow candles are non-toxic candles of the highest quality. They are a much better replacement to modern candles.

What Jars should I use to make tallow candles?

thrift store recycled candle jars on a granite counter top with tallow in the background
Thrift store candle jars

Things like candle mold, mason jars, glass jars, candle tins, old jelly, jars, or any containers that can handle high heat.

I took my daughter to our local thrift store to find some old candle jars to make our candles in! We were able to get some fun looking jars all for under 10 dollars!

Can you add sent to tallow candles?

womans hands opening a jar of essential oils that she will pour into the melted tallow jar that is on the counter

Yep! I really enjoy adding essential oils to my candles. I really love this part of making tallow candles. You get to choose your own scents and how strong you want them to be.

Adding oils isn’t essential to making tallow candles. They can burn with out it and won’t give off any smell at all. So if you want a scent free burning candle, you have that option too.

How much tallow do I need to make candles?

The amount of tallow really depends on how many candles you are making. It also depends on the size of your jar. You will have to do a little guesswork when making these candles

For a pint sized mason jar you will need about 2-3 cups of tallow or a few pounds.

How to make homemade tallow candles?

Let’s dive into the step by step process of making tallow candles. It is a really easy, simple process that can be done in less than an hour.

Step one: Melt the tallow

medium pot with a glass bowl on top with tallow inside the glass bowl. Melting the tallow in a double boiler
My make shift double boiler

Using a double boiler (or I just use a glass bowl over a medium saucepan or old pot with water inside) over medium heat, put the tallow chunks into the top part of the double boiler (or glass bowl). The tallow will start to melt, stir occasionally.

Step two: Attach the wicks

woman using a glue gun to put glue on the bottom of the wick that is in her hand before she puts it into her candle jars that are on the counter top next to her essential oils
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There are a lot of different wicks out there. People often like using wicks with cotton material or eco-cotton wicks. I used these wicks and they worked well.

Whatever wick you use, there is a step that I like to include with making candles. That is to attach the wick to the bottom of the jar or container.

I use a glue gun for this but I bet you could get away with using glue dots as well. I prepare the jars and wicks while I am waiting for the tallow to cool to a more manageable temperature.

Step three: Filter the melted tallow

womans hand holding a cheese cloth that she is using to filter the tallow through into a glass jar
This step is optional and can be skipped if needed

If you notice that there are some remnants in your melted tallow then you can pour it through a cheese cloth into your pouring container.

Make sure that your pouring container can manage hot tallow inside it. NO PLASTIC.

Step four: Add Sent (optional)

It is at this point that I add essential oils into the melted tallow. I do about 30 drops of oils per 1/2 cup of tallow. stir with a metal or wooden spoon till the oils are fully mixed in.

Step five: Pour into the candle container

woman's hand holding a glass container filled with melted tallow into her prepared white candle jar with a wick inside.

Pour the tallow into the canning jars, pint jars, recycled candle jars, or any heat tolerating jar. Your wick will likely start fall over. You can keep it up by using a clothespin or two pencils.

Step six: Cooling

Allow your tallow candles to cool at room temperature. This process can take a few hours. Once they are solid you can enjoy your homemade tallow candles!

Will tallow candles tunnel?

tallow candle burning while sitting on a wooden cutting board

There is a chance of tunneling (when the wick burns a tunnel down the center of the candle) with tallow candles.

In my experience, if you allow your candle to burn for more than thirty minutes per burning, then tunneling doesn’t happen. If you do have tunneling don’t worry, you can simply just re-melt the tallow and make the candle again.

Do tallow candles go rancid?

I believe that at some point they will, but I have seen them last for over a year without any problems.

Do tallow candles smell?

No. When you are rendering the animal fat into tallow, you will experience an intense smell. When you are burning the tallow candles, there won’t be any animal smell. It will be a clean burn.

Can I use tallow candles in emergencies?

Yes. Several years ago, tallow candles were mainly used as emergency candles or as back ups during a power outage. Now they are gaining popularity as more and more people are making their own candles.

I hope you give these candles a try. I think they are so pretty and have them all over my house.

Let me know what your favorite scent to add to candles is in the comments below!

You can find more self sufficiency tips for anyone, no matter where they live, on my apartment homesteading page!

a woman holding a bowl full of vegetables and a title saying apartment homesteading how to be self sufficient

See you around!

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