Making Candles At Home

Making homemade candles is a craft that can be enjoyed by all, whether making for yourself or for a gift.

For the early settlers, making homemade candles was a necessity. It was an unpleasant task, as it required burning down the fat of newly slaughtered animals. It was also a job that was sweaty and smelly, and the finished products left much to be desired.

Candles aren't imperative for light in most homes today as

they once were, although many choose to use candlelight in the evenings, either to set a mood or to save money on energy bills. When one does want candles they can go into almost any store and purchase them. So what once was a necessary evil is now an enjoyable, relaxing hobby. If you would like to try your hand at candle making you will need wax, wicks, a candy thermometer, cans for dipped candles, or molds for molded candles, and plenty of newspaper.

There are different types of wax that can be used. The most common one used in candles today is paraffin. Paraffin can be found in craft shops, usually in 10 pound slabs which will yield 4 quarts of liquid wax. Usually, 3 tablespoons of powdered stearin per pound of paraffin wax are added to make candles that are firmer and burn brighter.

Beeswax is becoming increasingly popular in candle making and can also be found at craft stores.

Wick is what burns the candle, and it can also be purchased or homemade. To make your own wick, soak heavy cotton strips of yarn in 1 tablespoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of boric acid and 1 cup of water for 12 hours. Hang to dry. When dry, braid 3 strands together to make a wick.

If you wish to make dipped candles you will need two cans, and they must stand taller than your desired candle length. One will be for melted wax, and the other for cool water.

If you desire to make molded candles you can be very creative. You can use milk cartons, cans, jars, cups, cardboard rolls and almost any other container.

When you are ready to begin, spread newspapers out over candle making area, especially where you will be dipping the candles or pouring the wax.

To begin making candles you need to melt your wax and it needs to be double boiled. If you don't have a double boiler, put water in the bottom of a wide pan and heat over a low flame. Put chunks of wax in a can and put the can in the water pan, taking care to not let the water boil to high. As the wax melts, add more chunks. When the wax has melted you can add stearin and coloring if you desire. Dye for candles is available in liquid, solid or powdered form and can be purchased at craft stores. Some people melt crayons right along with the wax to add color.

If you are going to dip your candles you need to keep the wax at 150-180 degrees during the process. This is done best on a hot plate or warmer. The water in the other can should be lukewarm to cool. To get your wick ready, cut it 5 inches longer than desired candle length. Tie a bolt or nut to one end for weight and tie the other end to a stick or dowel. If the can is wide enough, you can add another string to the dowel and dip more than one wick at a time.

Dip the wicks into the wax, lift up and let them drip. Dip into water, remove, and then blot excess moisture off with a paper towel. Let them lay on waxed paper for at least 30 seconds. As the process continues, and wicks are dipped and become wider, roll them around on the waxed paper and straighten them. The candle will be dipped 40-50 times before being 1 inch thick. To make candle dripless, on the final dip add 1 extra tablespoon of stearin.

Once you have completed dipping you need to cut off the bottom weight and cut bottom of candle until it is flat. Cut top wick 1/2 inch long.

To make molded candles the wax is melted the same way. However, on one side of the top edge of the can you should make a spout for pouring the wax. Molds should be prepared ahead of time by being coated with cooking oil. To prepare the wick cut it 2 inches taller than the candle and tie a washer or wick anchor to the bottom. Wick anchors can be purchased with candle making supplies. Cut a hole in the bottom of the mold and thread the wick up through it, leaving the washer on the outside. Plug the outside hole with putty. Tie the top of wick to a dowel and rest the dowel across the top of the mold.

If your molds are cardboard, plastic or glass, heat the wax to 130 degrees. If molds are metal, the wax needs to be 190 degrees. When the temperature is reached, turn off the heat and using potholders, lift the can and pour the wax into the molds. Let is cool for 12 hours, and then refrigerate for 12 hours. Molds can be peeled off if plastic or cardboard. Metal and glass molds can be turned over and tapped. If candle sticks, dip quickly into hot water and then turn over to release. Let the candle sit 10 days before use.

Once you have made your first candle you'll see how much you love to do it, whether for self or to give as gifts.

© High Speed Ventures 2011