Friday, August 14

How To Make Candles

I've been stock piling old or dirty candles with the half developed idea of turning them into new and improved candles.  Fully developing those sort of half ideas is the whole point of summer, right?  So here's what I came up with!

You'll need:

  • An inexpensive, don't-care-what-happens-to-it pot and ladle
  • A second pot, that won't get waxy, to use as a makeshift double boiler
  • Jars, tea cups, decorative mugs etc.
  • Assorted spices, peppercorns, citrus fruits, vanilla, lavender oil or whatever else smells good
  • Old candles
  • Wicks (I used these)
  • skewers, pencils or something similar to keep the wicks upright as the wax sets

Fill the lower pot a little less than half full of water and bring to a boil then drop it to medium
Set the throw-away pot into the boiling water and add candles
When the candles start to melt, add spices.  For the first batch, I used the white candle and added vanilla, clove and black peppercorns.

As the wax is melting you can remove the old wicks.  Then dip the metal base of each new wick in the wax and set it at the bottom of the jar.

Once the wax is melted, give it a good stir then ladle it into the jars.   This bit will be messy.  Fortunately I was able to just scrape off the wax that drizzled on our counter-top with a palette knife-- but if you have laminate counters or other surfaces that will not handle the wax you'll probably want to lay down some newspaper.  All the good bits are going to want to settle at the bottom of the jar, which is fine if you are going for that look.  If you want it more dispersed, you'll need to stir it a few times as it is cooling.   The wick will not stay straight up, so you can use the skewers/pencil/whatever to hold the wick vertical. I was able to hold it up just using the skewers as props, but you could also tape the wick to the skewer, particularly if you are using a taller container for the candle.

I used the yellow candle for the second batch.  I sliced, zested and juiced some oranges, and added them to the melting wax along with a bit of ground clove.  For one of the yellow candles I sliced up some orange rather thin, then lined the jar in the slices.

Now as the wax settles, the center, near the wick, will become very shallow and may even hollow out completely.  To fix this you'll need to add more wax once the candles have hardened.  I didn't know that when I set the candles to cool, so the top of my orange candles are white wax made from hastily melted burnt out tapers.  Oops.  Lesson learned.
To finish off the jars, I decorated them with braided yarn, string, beads, bias tape, ric rac-- whatever bit and pieces I had laying around with some hot glue for good measure.

I'm really tickled with the end result.  For my next trick, I'm going to try doing some from scratch, with soy wax or maybe even bees wax-- though the temptation to pick up a bunch of cheap candles at the local thrift stores is pretty strong.  I like the idea of reusing things that otherwise be wasted.  

In the meantime, I'm on the look out for interesting scent combinations to try.  I love the black peppercorn/clove/vanilla combo-- they have a great, spicy scent.  I was thinking that pink peppercorns would be a pretty addition, but don't know what else I can do.  Have you come across any unusual blends I could try?  Also, have you ever tried making your own taper candles?  I'd love to make them for the holidays...oooh...with real pine needles maybe?  wouldn't that be cool? Wait, would it be a fire hazard...hmmm.  Thoughts?

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