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Can you paint candles with candle dye?

Painting candles can be a fun DIY project to customize candles and make them your own. Rather than buying pre-made candles, you can create unique candles in your preferred colors and designs. But what types of paints and dyes can be used on candles? In particular, can you use candle dye to paint candles?

Candle dye is a special type of dye made specifically for coloring candles. It comes in liquid form and is mixed into melted wax before pouring candles. Candle dye provides vibrant, even color and is formulated to withstand high temperatures so the color remains true when the candle is burned. But can candle dye also be used like paint to coat the outside of candles?

In this article, we’ll look at whether candle dye can be used to paint candles, how to properly use candle dye, what types of paints do work on candles, and tips for painting candles.

Can You Use Candle Dye to Paint Candles?

Candle dye is intended to be mixed into melted wax rather than painted onto candles. Using candle dye to paint candles can result in poor, uneven coverage. The dye is very thin and absorbs into the wax quickly rather than leaving an opaque paint-like coating.

Here are some key reasons candle dye does not work well for painting candles:

  • Candle dye is transparent – It does not provide full opaque coverage when painted on like regular paint.
  • The dye soaks into the wax – It absorbs into the candle surface rather than forming a layer on top.
  • Uneven results – Brush strokes are visible and it’s hard to get even, consistent color.
  • Difficult color correction – Once absorbed into the wax, the color is set and cannot be adjusted.
  • Limited color options – Candle dye comes in fewer colors compared to paint.

So while candle dye can technically be brushed onto candles, the results are generally poor and it is not recommended. Candle dye works best when mixed into melted wax. For painting candles, other products like acrylic paint, oil paint, and nail polish work much better.

Proper Use of Candle Dye

While not ideal for painting candles, candle dye serves an important purpose in coloring wax for candle making. Here are some tips on using candle dye properly:

  • Start with uncolored, unscented wax – Coloring should be done before adding fragrance.
  • Use dye sparingly – Only a small amount is needed to achieve vibrant color.
  • Mix thoroughly – Stir the dye into the melted wax until color is uniform.
  • Test on a piece of wax – Check the color before pouring the full candle.
  • Use higher temperatures – Heat the wax to 185-200°F before adding dye.

Candle dye typically comes in liquid form in small bottles. A little bit of dye goes a long way in coloring wax. Be careful not to over-dye the wax, as too much dye can clog the candle wick. It’s best to gradually add small amounts of dye and mix until the desired hue is reached. Testing the colored wax on a piece of scrap wax first allows you to adjust and confirm the color before pouring finished candles. Following proper practices when using candle dye helps ensure even coloring and well-performing candles.

Types of Paint That Work on Candles

While candle dye has limitations for painting candles, there are several good paint options that do work:

Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is a popular choice for painting candles. It adheres well to wax surfaces and dries quickly. Acrylic paint retains vivid color when heat is applied. It’s available in many colors and finishes from metallic to glitter. Use a paint formulated for ceramics or plastic for best results.

Oil-Based Enamel Paint

Enamel paint provides a gorgeous glossy finish on candles. The oil-based formula allows opaque, streak-free coverage. Enamel paint cures durable and scratch-resistant. Use a high-heat paint rated for 300°F or above.

Nail Polish

For small candles like votives, nail polish can be used. The thick lacquer finish resists pooling or running for crisp designs. Use a top coat to seal and protect nail polish paint on candles.

Chalk Paint

Chalk paint formulated for glass adheres well to candles for a matte, vintage look. The soft finish lends well to distressing. Chalk paint withstands heat up to 225°F.

Spray Paint

Spray paint offers quick, even coverage on candles. Use a high-heat formulation rated for 300°F and stick to light coats. Metallic spray paint creates modern geometric or ombre candles.

Paint Type Benefits
Acrylic Paint Dries quickly, available in many colors, retains bright color when heated
Enamel Paint Glossy finish, opaque coverage, durable and scratch-resistant
Nail Polish Thick lacquer resists dripping, allows intricate designs on small candles
Chalk Paint Adheres well to wax, matte finish, vintage look
Spray Paint Provides quick, even coverage, creates modern ombre effects

Tips for Painting Candles

Follow these tips for getting the best results when painting candles:

  • Clean candles with rubbing alcohol first to remove dust and oils.
  • Apply paint in thin, even coats allowing drying time between coats.
  • Use soft paintbrushes and foam applicators.
  • Outline designs with pencil first or use painter’s tape for crisp edges.
  • Spray painted candles with sealant to protect the finish.
  • Avoid getting paint on the bottom of the candle to prevent sticking to candle holders.
  • Paint votives before inserting wicks to avoid getting paint on the wick.

Going slowly and using proper materials creates flawlessly painted candles. Taking the time to clean, prep, and outline the candle before painting allows your creativity to shine through. With some simple guidance, you can end up with stunning hand-painted candles using the right type of paints.


Candle dye alone does not work well for painting candles. The dye is intended to color wax from within, rather than creating an opaque painted coating. For painting candles, acrylic, oil-based enamel, nail polish, chalk paint, and spray paint all provide much better results. Each paint type has its own advantages from precision of nail polish to quick coverage of spray paint. With some preparation and patience, beautifully hand-painted candles can be created using paints designed to adhere to wax and withstand the heat of a lit candle. So leave the candle dye for coloring the interior wax, and grab some acrylic paints next time you want to paint candle exteriors. With the proper materials and techniques, you’ll have stylish painted candles in no time!