Candle-making doesn't have to be an expensive hobby, with the minimum of equipment you can produce professional looking candles to use yourself or delight friends and family by giving them as gifts.
This can be a purpose bought pan set which is made up of a larger base saucepan, with a smaller saucepan that sits tightly on top. The bottom pan is filled with water, the top pan is filled with wax and the heat from the simmering water from the lower pan heats the upper pan and melts the wax. It is sometimes called a bain marie. If you don't want to splash-out on a double boiler, then a metal pot or tin placed inside a pan of water works well. The tin needs to be slightly raised from the base of the pan to stop 'hot-spots' in the wax. You can achieve this by using a trivet or small ceramic tiles.
A thermometer is an essential, to keep an eye on the melting wax and making sure it doesn't get too hot and become a fire hazard. it's also useful for indicating when the required pour temperature has been reached. Thermometers don't have to be expensive, a simple craft, jam making or candy thermometer works just as well as the more robust de-luxe versions, they just need to be stored with care to stop the glass from breaking. Dial thermometers are very good, not only does the dial face upwards making it very easy to read, but the metal spike can be placed slightly above the base of the can or saucepan to give a true reading of the wax itself, rather than the temperature of the base of the can.
Another essential. Metal jugs work better than plastic jugs simply because you can heat them before pouring in your wax, this keeps the wax at a higher temperature for longer, and stops the edges from solidifying before you've had time to fill your moulds. you can also leave your top-up wax in the jug and just heat the jug in a pan of water to melt the wax again when you need to 'top-up' your moulds.
You'll need something to stir your melted wax, whether it's to add dye, scent or just to keep it moving and melting evenly. This can be anything from a chop-stick to a palette knife - you're bound to have something in the kitchen you can use - but remember, once you've used it for candle making, it can't be used with food again.
you'll get through a lot of this! Use it to cover work surfaces when you're pouring because, with the best will in the world, there are going to be spillage. Kitchen paper is ideal for wiping out your melting pots and pans before the wax has solidified. Keeping them clean is very important, because wax is very unforgiving, and the slightest bit of colour left from a previous pour will do it's damnedest to wreck the pure white batch you want to do next! It's also handy for wiping the condensation off the bottom of tins and pans when you remove them from the hot water, to make sure the droplets don't contaminate your moulds or the wax you're pouring.
Ice Cube Trays
This may seem like a strange piece of equipment - but I find it invaluable for storing excess wax. Once you've finished topping up, pour any left over wax into the ice cube trays. Once hardened, they can easily be removes by twisting and flexing the trays. The wax 'cubes' can be weighed, and the weight deducted from your initial calculation to keep an accurate record of how much wax is needed for a particular mould. Store the cubes in grip seal bags marked up with the type of wax they are, and they are handy for next time. Being small, they are easy to cut for accurate measuring.