Vintage Brass as a Boho Candle Holder

Vintage Brass as a Boho Candle Holder

For years, I’d heard about a cleaning “hack” for vintage brass that didn’t seem possible. But I was finally able to give it a try when I found this brass cauldron at Goodwill. I wanted to upcycle it into a boho candle holder by polishing it up and adding a little pizazz to the handles- without a drop of paint in sight.

vintage brass

Isn’t it cute? But that dirty-looking “patina” that vintage brass gets was a little overwhelming.

vintage brass for a boho candle holder

And while I know that making candles isn’t the most original or unique upcycling idea from me, it’s the cleaning hack that you’ll want to know about. And maybe you’ll be “charmed” by the little pieces of flair that come at the very end of the project, too.

This post contains affiliate links for your crafting convenience. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchase. All blue, bold, and underlined text is a clickable link, either to a product or to a related post. This project is also sponsored by Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont.

Cleaning Brass with Ketchup

Before getting into cleaning up the little cauldron, I first gathered some basic candle making supplies. This included:

candle making supplies

Now, you may remember another candle project of mine from several years ago. For that one, I used local beeswax and went through quite the process of cleaning it. But this time, I took the easy route with soy wax instead!

Before I did anything else, though, I wanted to polish up the vintage brass! And the handy-dandy cleaning product I’d use? 

how to clean brass with ketchup

Ketchup. Regular ole’ put-it-on-my-burger ketchup! I know it sounds crazy.

First, I removed the price tag and any visible filth (there was hardened hot glue that I picked off from the inside). Then, I simply squirted on some ketchup and rubbed it all over the brass with my fingers.

cleaning brass with ketchup

I know. It looks like a crime scene.

Then, I let it rest like that for a few minutes. After that, I rinsed off the ketchup and dried it thoroughly. And when I was done, well…

how to clean brass candlesticks

It just glowed! With a mirrored finish. Isn’t that WILD?

After I calmed down from the shock and glee, I returned to my upcycling project. I attached a wick to the bottom center of my boho candle holder with hot glue.

Then, I made a “wick holder” by gently clamping the wick between two coffee stirrers taped together.

preparing the wick for a boho candle

This will keep the wick from falling over once I’ve poured the hot wax. And lots of items are easy to fashion into wick holders- bamboo skewers, chopsticks, etc. Basically anything that is longer than your candle holder is wide.

Finishing a Boho Candle Holder

Now it was time to actually create a candle. Before doing anything else, I measured out the wax I’d need for my vintage brass. I filled it with soy flakes and poured those in my melting cup. 

Then I filled it again, just about a third to half full and poured those flakes in the melting cup, too. Trust me, it’s better to err on the side of too much wax than too little.

After that, I placed the melting cup in a pot of water on my stove that I began to boil.

melting soy wax flakes

Once the flakes had completely liquefied, I let it boil for a few more minutes before removing the cup from the pot of water.

melted soy wax for candle making

I had already placed my boho candle holder on some aluminum foil to protect my counter in case anything spilled. Then, I carefully poured the wax into the vintage brass, carefully avoiding the wick and holder.

pouring wax in vintage brass

Had I added fragrance, I would have added it to the melting cup full of molten wax. But I was so busy being careful not to spill or mess up, that I forgot to add the fragrance oil!

Oh, well.

After (successfully!) pouring in the wax without sloshing or spilling, I didn’t touch or move the brass holder for several hours. That allowed the wax to harden with a nice flat surface.

finishing a boho candle

Next, I slid my makeshift wick holder off and trimmed the wick about a half inch above the surface. Finally, I could add the pizazz that I told you about at the beginning!

charms for a boho candle holder

And by pizazz, I mean these tassel or fringe charms I found on clearance at Michaels. They were just begging to dangle from the handles of my candle holder. And who am I to disagree?

So, I used my jewelry making pliers to open and close jump rings and hung them from my brass candle. And that was it!

Vintage Brass as a Boho Candle Holder

My boho candle was all done- isn’t it just so sweet? I absolutely love the little touch of flair that the jewelry bits give it.

boho candle

It’s like a little sass on my brass. And the perfect way to amp up the “oooh!” factor in a non-permanent or damaging way.

vintage brass as a boho candle holder


And hurray, hurray- it’s also Thrift Store Decor Team Day! Which means my friends have been upcycling some new projects, too.

thrift store decor and upcycling ideas

1. Rustic Home Decor Wall SignPetticoat Junktion

2. DIY Mini Succulent Garden in a Sugar MoldMy Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

3. What to Do with Old ShuttersReinvented Delaware

4. Goodwill Shadowbox Fall Decor MakeoverOrganized Clutter

5. Thrift Store Metal PumpkinDomestically Speaking

6. Boho Candle Holder (and Crazy Brass Cleaning Hack)Sadie Seasongoods

7. How to Update Thrift Store ArtOur Southern Home

8. Quilted Mason Jar MakeoverHouse of Hawthornes

9. Bar Stool MakeoverMy Repurposed Life

10. How to Make Pumpkins from Scrap WoodShop at Blue


I hope you are as amazed by that brass cleaning hack as I was! I can’t wait to hear if you try it and how it worked out for you. It was so fun to find the perfect piece of vintage brass at one of my local Goodwill stores here in Charlotte to use for this project.

And if you’re interested in more upcycling ideas for boho style decor, perhaps this collection will inspire your next thrifting trip!

Bohemian style decor and upcycling projects for boho decor on a budget

Craft on!


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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. The candle is adorable. I wonder if it is the acid in the ketchup that takes off the oxidation? Maybe pickling vinegar with a high acid content would work too?

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      It probably is the acid in the tomatoes. I can’t speak to vinegar, but the benefit of ketchup is that you can let it sit for a few moments and it won’t run off. But if you have pickling vinegar on hand, it might be worth a try?

      • Beautiful little pot and I love the jewelry accents!
        You could try tomato paste. It might be cheaper in the long run than Ketchup and you could make it go further by thinning it a little with water. It probably is the acid in the tomatoes because if you have a metal pot that is stained on the inside the way to clean it is to make tomato sauce in it.

  2. Super cute candle idea! Love the sass on your brass too,

  3. I’ve cleaned the copper bottoms of pots/pans with ketchup. It is amazing what a little condiment can do. I will now use it on a few brass candlesticks I have. I’m not a candle lover but your cauldron is both cute and useful.

  4. penney helms says

    Two great pins in one! I have brass candlesticks that could really use this. Plus, I really love the addition to the handles of the “candle”. Thank you.

  5. Sarah, I accidentally discovered the beauty of cleaning with ketchup! I sue it n my copper hammered sink! Beautiful restoration. There is nothing like shiny brass! I’ll be trying this in some items I have in storage.

  6. Sarah!
    Wow! I’m speechless! I had no idea about this brass cleaning tip. It’s a little scary, because I’m a huge fan of ketchup. yikes!
    Your boho candle holder turned out positively wonderful!


  7. I love your new boho candle, it’s gorgeous!!! I think I need to try that ketchup hack on some pieces, thanks for the great tip!

  8. Rebecca Payne says

    What a great idea. Great Job!

  9. So cute!!! I love making candles and haven’t for a few years now… you’ve inspired me & I had no clue about the catsup – who knew!!!

  10. I did not know there was an official was melting pot and now I feel like I’ve been missing out! Super cute candle though. I think the added tassel really sets it off!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Yes!! I saw it in someone else’s candle post once- maybe Kristin’s? Or from Two Bees in a Pod? And I had to have one!

  11. Glad you shared the ketchup hack for those who didn’t know about it. My almost 50 year old Revere Ware with copper bottoms have seen this trick for YEARS! But, I didn’t know it worked on brass, too! Also love the hot glue candle wick anchor; I recently made candles and had to fight with the wicks. Love the Boho look you gave the pot; it raises it to distinction!

  12. Ketchup?? That is amazing! It must be the acid from the tomatoes that removes the dullnes of the brass. Anyway, that was just brilliant and I will keep this tip in mind! Pinned!

  13. I will be trying the ketchup method for sure. As an added tip….rub the brass with flour. Not sure why but it extends the amount of time btwn treatments to keep the brass looking, well, brassy. I have a small vase that was my grandmother’s and it had lots of grooves in it. I have cleaned it with salt/lemon juice paste with fantastic results, rubbed it with a bit of flour then wiped it clean. I experimented and the flour application seems to keep the brass shiny longer than without. I am going to try the ketchup though…although how concerning is THAT? If ketchup cleans brass, what the heck is it doing to our bodies?! It’s delish though….

  14. Laurie @ Vin'yet Etc. says

    Love it! I totally have to try this hack on my brass, I think I might even try it on some copper!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      A lot of folks have mentioned it on their copper-bottom pots and pans, so I think the result will be similar!

  15. Denise/My Home of All Seasons says

    Wow! I had no idea about the ketchup! Thank you for that. Great tutorial and the candle turned out so pretty! Have a great weekend!

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