Think of yourself as a chef, turning plain wax into an attractive main dish using color dyes and fragrances as spices. Like in cooking, preparation and execution in candle making are best not rushed. Candlemaking is an ancient craft that hasn’t lost its appeal. Indeed, creating handmade candles is surprisingly easy to do at home and there’s no end to the variations and decorative possibilities…
What type of candles do you like? Candles can be made in any shape and color, here some examples (just to tickle your fancy!) :
-tapers: they are long and slim, the classical ones; tapers stand best in tall, slender candleholders.
-pillars: they stand on their own and are usually 7 centimeters wide or more. They can be round, square or other shapes.
-votives: they are small, round candles made in molds. They come many scented and colors and they also fit well into small glass cup candleholders.
-floating: these candles are made by molding or cutting small shapes from wax. They are often shaped as flowers or little tarts. Since wax floats, these candles can be grouped toghter in a wide bowl of water: the effect is simply beautiful (this is also an ancient way of use both in Europe and India).
-tea lights: these are very small candles that sit in their own metal dishes. They are very often used to heat scented wax in special pots.
The wick size must be matched to suit the diameter of the candle for proper burning. A wick that is too small will quickly drown in a pool of melted wax. A candle frequently drips when there is too much melted wax, because the wick can’t absorb, or take up, the wax fast enough, so it spills over the sides of the candle.
On the contrary, a wick that is too large will create a lot of smoke, sputter and burn too hot with a large flame. Most regular-size candles require just one central wick for proper burning, but very large candles may require two or more evenly spaced wicks (never more than five!).
The cotton core wick, which is usually made up of strands “braided” around a thick cotton center, is highly recommended and it makes perfect poured and dipped beeswax candles. The commercial wicks are relatively inexepensive but also homemade wicks made of paper or twine or even of cotton are recommended: do as you wish!
Homemade candles of beeswax are usualy hand-dipped, rolled or molded:
Beeswax usually comes in sheets that do not have to be melted to make candles: this is the easiest way to make a very beautiful and very scented candle. The sheets are embossed with a honeycomb pattern and come in a huge variety of colors
In brief: for each candle, use an 20 cm x 41 cm sheet of beeswax cut in half. Lay the sheet on a flat surface with one of the shorter ends of the rectangle facing you. Carefully lay the wick out straight along the end, with some hanging off on either side. Start rolling the beeswax over the wick just enough to completely cover it. With the warmth from your fingers, gently pinch the wax around the wick to make sure it does not slip out. With this metod, you can easily manufacture several candles in less than a minute.
If you want to make a square candle, just fllatten each side with a hard object as you roll; if you want to make a shorter candle, cut the short side of the beeswax sheet in half prior to rolling it. For a larger candle, you can use as many sheets of beeswax consecutively as you need to reach your desired diameter. Wait at least a day, preferably longer, before lighting your new masterpiece (this is a common rule).
The process of making dipped candles is time-consuming, but the end result is truly beautiful- Hand-dipped candles are made by dipping a wick repeatedly into a pot of melted beeswax building the candle layer by layer. To make many candles, it is best to attach a number of wicks to a rod or rack for simultaneous dipping:
1) Melt the beeswax in a tall container- the container can be placed in a hot water bath to keep the wax melted.
2) Tie a lead fishing weight to one end of wicking (to make it hang straight) and begin dipping.
3) Let each coat of wax cool before dipping again. The more you dip, the thicker the candle becomes.
You can even add color and scent…
The molded candles are very beautiful because of the huge variety of molds for candlemaking- from conventional tapers to complex figurines. It is incredibily easy to make such candles: just melt the beeswax, pour it into the mold and add color and scent if you like. Insert the wick, let it cool and remove the mold.
Add dried herbs to the melted wax just before pouring it into the mould. The best of all herbs for this purpose is the rosemary, which gives the candle a wonderfully aromatic scent. Dried lavender stalks snipped into short lenghts with scissors also give a sweet scent. Other good herbs for this purpose include hyssop, savory, thyme, germander, bergamot and mint. The resulting candles will be translucent and a pale grey-green color, filled with suspended leaves. Fragrance oils and scents are potent- a little goes a long way. Common scents include lavender, lilac, honeysuckle, rose, jasmine, hyacinth, blueberry, orange, apple, peach, sandalwood, mint, vanilla, cinnamon etc. but scents can also be combined to create unique results. This one however is an inexact science governed by trial and error: let your creativity and your nose be your guide! The available fragrances in fact are in every imaginable scent or flavor you can conjure up, and if you dream up a new one it can be created too….
the benefits of beeswax candles
To make the body of a candle, use the beeswax, not the paraffin. The best is the more ancient: beeswax, a natural wax extracted from honeybees. When burned, gives off a pleasant and natural honey aroma and essential oils can also be added to it; in addition to its natural golden shade, beeswax is available in white and other colors, or you can add any color you like. You can buy beeswax in honeycomb sheets, blocks or beads. Of course, it is a little bit pricier than paraffin, which is commonly used, but I recommed it greatly because the candles so made last longer and, of course, improve your health rather than weaken it. The candles were always made of beeswax, only in the last century, they were replaced by paraffin candles. But paraffin is made from the sludge that sits at the bottom of barrels of crude oil; the sludge is then bleached with benzene and treated with other chemical solvents. So, when you burn paraffin candles, they put out soot and smoke, along with toxins and carcinogens, including very harmful chemicals dispersed by the commonly used lead-core wicks. You would probably never burn paraffin candles unless the bad smell they produce (comparable to diesel fumes) were not covered up by synthetic fragrances, many of which are irritants or toxins themselves: now you know.
At least, beeswax candles are very desirable: unlike paraffin, they don’t drip, don’t sputter, and don’t smoke, but they do burn a long time and with a brighter light. Plus, just by lighting a beeswax candle, people suffering from asthma, allergies and sinus problems have reported significant improvements in their symptoms. Their breathing became much easier and their sleep less disturbed after burning pure beeswax candles in their bedrooms for a few hours before bedtime. Some asthmatics even claim that their symptoms vanished completely after burning beeswax candles all day for several days or weeks. Burning beeswax produces negative ions: they clean the air of dust, mold, viruses, bacteria and other pollutants responsible for numerous chemical sensitivities…