Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Beeswax Dipped Candles, A Soft Glow of Sunshine on a Winter Night

As the icy winds of January draft across the Michigan countryside, we are driven from the cold as even the sun tucks away earlier and earlier, and falls to the winter slumber. One activity I like to take part in is the making of dip candles. Dip candles can be made from any wax. Most candles I make are made from the remnants of other candles that have since spent their wicks. All my family members know I recycle candle butts so they save their "passed away" candles in boxes for me and I repay them by melting down the wax and giving them a newly born candle in return. Occasionally I run low so I replenish with paraffin blocks, which seem to last forever. It’s the process that I love. There is something satisfying about melting down all those ash blackened chunks of wax, pouring the hot glossy liquid into a mold and releasing a shiny new candle. The house always smells wonderful and it’s great for the skin on your hands. (So long as you don’t burn yourself) As hot as it is, I can never resist poking about impatiently at the melting wax, you inevitably get some on you and it’s great for the skin. When making recycled candles, my only caution is to keep the "flowery smells" from the "cinnamon smells" but other than that all the wax goes into the melting pot. Usually the colors melt into a deeper rich color, and you can add colors to the overall mix. I buy mine on line very inexpensive and a few shavings goes a long way. http://www.candlewic.com/ This year we had a special treat. My husband purchased 6 pounds of beeswax from a local apiary (bee keeper) for me for Christmas over two years ago.The wax was so beautiful that I didn't have the nerve to melt it down. Finally I decided to make dip candles. We melted the wax in a homemade double boiler. You need something taller as a standard pot won’t make a very tall candle. A tin coffee can works great for 6" candles. Just watch the bubbles that collect on the bottom, a couple of times they released all at once and it can splash the boiling water a bit. To make dipped candles you will need: -a medium to large pot for boiling water -a melting pot, coffee can or Zach's taller cylinder (see below) -candle wax -wick (most craft stores carry wick in spools) -washer or nut -scissors -a vessel as tall as your melting pot with cold water -scents and colors optional Place your melting pot filled with wax in a stove pot filled with water. Heat over medium heat until the water starts to simmer. You don't want a rapid boil as the bubbles can get trapped under the melting pot and splash you. Watch not to burn yourself even with a simmer. Wait for the wax to melt. In the mean time cut a length of wick about 3 inched taller than your melting pot. Tie one end to a nut or washer with a small knot. This will weigh down your wick so it dips straight until you have enough wax build up. Once the wax has melted, carefully, holding the opposite end of the wick from the nut dip slowly to the deisred length. Remove and dip in cold water. Repeat several times. You will get drips that collect along the bottom of your candle, just snip these with scissors occasionally. Eventually you will have enough wax on the wick that you can cut off the nut. Continue dipping until you have the desired width. Allow to dry. Beeswax will deepen in color as it dries. After we made a collection of 6" candles I felt like we needed something longer. Zach forged me a tall cylinder which we set in the double boiler. It is 15" tall and makes a 12" candle. For those of you who would like to try making some tapers for yourself he is selling the cylinders on our Etsy site at http://www.jenniferannmurphy.etsy.com/ Please use with caution. To purchase beeswax please visit Swarm Natural http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=38316989 Or to skip the mess, we also have finished candles for sale in the 6" and 12" inch lengths. http://www.jenniferannmurphy.etsy.com All through the process our kitchen and home were filled with the rich smell of warm honey. Which has a way of cozying all of your senses. The whole process was like working with gold. I was reminded of the bees working all summer to bring us this heavenly scented wax, The candles themselves are like little statues of sunshine glowing their hardest. We can’t wait to fill our home this winter with the soft amber glow of the golden honey scented candlelight.

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