Today I made candles for the first time.
Hey, I look somewhat Amish!
As I mentioned before my friend Nao is a backyard beekeeper and runs BeeCause Pollination Project. She had some cappings she wanted to melt down and try her hand at candles. We went over to Wicks and Wax in Burnaby to pick up some molds and wicks and more beeswax to add to Nao’s. Beeswax is EXPENSIVE! The staff at the store were really helpful and understanding (I had the two kids with me) and talked us through wick sizes and took a look at Nao’s wax. They thought we were pretty funny starting with the hardest wax for candles, and smiled wider when they heard that next up I was going to make cold process soaps when I’ve never even tried melt and pour…
Anyway, back to the candles. Nao’s friend Jenn had just made candles in a class through her community centre, and I had read a couple books, so we had a little bit of knowledge. We did pretty well considering that otherwise we were completely new to the whole process.
We had a few acrylic molds and a couple metal ones. We also decided to use a few jars and old tealight containers to make some candles that wouldn’t be released. I also wanted to make some tapers for a menorah – so small, thin ones. We also made a few tapers towards the end that went well.
The books I took out of the library were:
- The Encyclopedia of Candle Making Techniques (Sandie Lea)
- Candlemaking for the first time (Vanessa-Ann)
- The Complete Candlemaker (Norma Coney)
Most the books really only talked about making beeswax candles by rolling pre-made sheets. Otherwise they spoke about adding beeswax to other paraffin or soy bases or said “beeswax is difficult to deal with and expensive to buy”. They also concentrated on making the kind of candles you’d find in the Church Lady’s bathroom – not really my style. I used the techniques and instructions from the first two books and just used mold-release to help deal with the stickiness. We learned the hard way that you want to lower the temperature of the wax when making the tapers (around 160 F) compared to the 175-180 F for the pillars we made in the mold.
It took WAY longer than we were expecting to spend, and we have a ton more tapers to make – it took 6 hours to make the candles you see below. I really enjoyed myself, it’s a very meditative process and smells SO good.
So, if you can get your hands on some affordable beeswax I do recommend making candles. It wasn’t as hard as it seemed it would be (those fear-mongering crafties!) but it did take a little longer. Also, the start-up costs are intimidating – I probably spent $80 making what will probably end up as 3-4 pillars or jars and maybe 8 large tapered and 9 menorah tapers… Keep in mind though that I can keep and use the molds again, and that to buy these candles would cost WAY more than $80. $50 of that was the beeswax, wick and other consumable materials.
If you have any questions about our first experience making candles let me know. Tomorrow I’m probably going to make that soap. This will probably be more amusing…
Last but not least: