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Homemade Candles

Candlelight emits a relaxing glow, but store bought candles can be expensive.

They can also have an overpowering scent or be laden with toxins that can be released into the air when burned.

Making your own candles allows control over the ingredients, scent and presentation.

There are some general techniques for candle crafting. Container candles basically involve melting the wax and slowly pouring it into a heat safe container. Candles made in molds require a bit more effort, especially when applying advanced techniques, but it is a skill worth learning.

Hand dipped candles take some time to complete but can be made into smaller ones for things like birthday cakes or larger taper candles. Rolled candles can be made with beeswax sheets which are flexible and easy to work with, especially when warmed.

All types can result in attractive, flickering works of art.

Waxes can be purchased in different sizes, such as in blocks, chips or sheets. When selecting a wax, choose additive-free natural blends to avoid burning chemicals along with your candle, as petroleum or paraffin based ones can emit dangerous fumes. Palm oil wax, beeswax and soybean waxes are natural varieties that do not put off smoke as some cheaply made commercial varieties do. Candles made from these materials usually burn longer, more consistently and are also completely biodegradable.

When using waxes, be sure to note what it is specified to get the best results. Consider what you are trying to achieve when choosing a candle wax to work with. For instance, the soybean chips that are available for use in molds may be different from the wax that is needed to make container candles. Mold or pillar candles require a different blend as melt and pour waxes are a softer type of wax.

Use precaution when making candles because wax is extremely flammable and should not be left unattended. A wax thermometer is a good investment so you can keep a close eye on the temperature.

Things like heat proof glass jars can be reused for candle containers. Recycled cans and pails are also good choices. Even seashells can be filled with poured wax and a wick can be inserted near the middle for an interesting display. Candle molds can be purchased in endless varieties, or you can repurpose used containers into candle molds. Dipped or rolled candles can be displayed in any holder that may be lying around, however keep in mind these may drip wax as they burn.

Additionally, remember that the candlewick is as important as the wax. Some unregulated candles may still be made with wicks that contain lead or may be coated in chemicals. You can make your own natural wick by dipping pure cotton twine in wax, letting it dry and snipping it into the needed size.

Pure essential oils can be stirred into wax just before pouring, and wicks can be dipped in them and dried before use for an aromatic bonus. Let candles sit for 24 hours or at least overnight before burning so that the wax has a chance to solidify.

Candlemaking is a handy and economical pursuit, since the wax is never wasted as most of it can be re-melted and reused. Also, knowing how to create your own supplies is useful. Crafting your own candles can make you feel glowingly self-reliant.

Source: Hicks, S. 2010. Don’t Burn Toxic Candles!

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