Monday, January 26, 2015

Beeswax Candle Making

Nobody will deny that the art of making candles, by which light is continued to us beyond the time that the sun gives us light, is a valuable art, and ought to be preserved. 
- Samuel Johnson

White world greeted me this morning when I woke up. I got my wish. We are having an active weather system going through, bringing us some snow. I'm guessing that's the same system that is pummelling Buffalo and New York only we are getting about 15 cm of the white stuff while they are supposed to get a meter. How about some middle ground Mother Nature? I would love to see some real snow visit my neck of the woods.

Saying goes that you must stop looking in order to find what you lost. Maybe if I stop looking for the snow, it will find me?

Just like I mentioned in my previous post I took time to make home made beeswax candles yesterday. I thought it would be a great idea to share my process with you. It's really easy to make your own candles and it feels like such accomplishment when it's done.

I get my beeswax at the local honey shop. I usually buy it in bulk and get a small discount that way. Beeswax candles are more expensive than paraffin, so any discount I can get is very welcome.  The wax doesn't go bad and I just stick the box in the storage and have a surplus for some time to come.

Heating the wax is kind of like heating the chocolate.  You have to do it through indirect heat.  For that I have an old camping pot to which I pour water and then I have a wax pitcher in which the wax is going to melt.  Once the water is boiled in the old pot, I put in the pitcher with the solid wax.

The wax takes a little while to melt and while it does it smells wonderful.

The reason why I use the old pot for the water boiling is that over time you might get some wax dripping into the water.  I don't want to be stressed out about removing wax from my good pots.  This old camping pot is dedicated for just one purpose: candle making.

My candle forms consist of both store bought (for the tall candle and the votive candles) and recycled forms from the tea lights I bought or burned in the past.  Whenever I need more tea light forms, I just buy some cheap candles in the store, remove the tea lights from the forms and I'm ready to go.  The actual tea lights I store away just in case I run out of my beeswax candles in the future.  Once I make my beeswax tea lights, I recycle the forms over and over.  They might get a little out of shape but that's ok.  My tea lights are not picture perfect but they work just fine.

I usually make one big, drip candle, several votive candles and whole bunch of tea lights. For the votive and tea lights I use the regular, small washers which I pick up in the hardware store, to hold the wick in place.  For the wick, I use either hemp or cotton, depends on what I have available at the moment. Yesterday I used cotton.  The wider the candle the thicker the wick will need to be so for my big candle I'm using much thicker string.  The votive candles use the same size of wick as the tea lights.

I tie a short piece of cotton wick to the washer, as close to the middle of the washer as possible.  The washer takes the place of the metal piece that you would usually find at the bottom of the store bought candle. What I like about the washers however is that they can be used over and over.  Candle making supplies are not cheap, so anything recyclable is gold.

When the forms are ready and all the wicks are cut, I dip the wicks in the melted wax and place them in their forms.  This will keep the wicks standing up straight while I pour the wax.  For taller candles I also use a piece of stick or toothpicks to hold the wick in place as I pour.

When the wicks and the forms are ready, I remove the wax from the heat and let it cool a little bit. For the tea lights it doesn't matter much, but for the big candle which I will have to remove from the form, it is very important. When the wax is too hot, it will stick to the sides of the form and removing the candle will be very difficult.  When the wax is cooled before being poured in, it separates from the walls of the form almost immediately.

I let the beeswax cool just enough to see the beginning of solidification around the edges inside the wax pitcher.

When the beeswax is cool enough I pour it into the votives and the tall form.  As you can see from the picture, the wax begins to separate from the walls very quickly.  I took this photo only minutes after I poured it in.

The votives will take about an hour to set and cool while the tall candle will take several hours.  At that time all I have to do is to tap the bottom of the form on a hard surface and the candle should pop out of the form.

Once the tea lights and the votive candles are cooled and out of the forms, all I have to do is cut the wicks.  For my big candle however I have one last step.  I pour the cooled wax over the candle to create the drip effect. This last step is a pure art form and I enjoy it thoroughly.  You could do this with your votives as well if you like to.

Now all there is to do is light them up! There is no better feeling that lighting up your own home made candle.  It puts a smile on my face every single time.  Cheers!

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