Making Candles Just For Fun

With a good supply of beeswax on hand (for making solid perfumes), I thought it would be interesting to turn some of that wax into candles. I've written about this project on my Learning To Make Perfume blog. You can find that article here.

On this page I've added some photos of the project and some comments on the process and the results. Start by reading the blog article here. Then check out the comments and photos below.

Finished candle burning smoke free, drip free
Here's the finished candle burning smoke free, drip free. The wax was pure beeswax given to me by a bee keeper friend. The wick was square braid cotton wick, size 2/0, from Toadily Handmade Beeswax Candles, LLC.
beeswax straight from the hive used for this project
Here is some of the beeswax I had on hand. So far I've used only yellow wax for my project. As you can see, some of the wax is gray. There are also small, solid impurities in the wax as it came right from the hive. Some looks "dirty." Blame it on the bees.
The equipment laid out for this project
This is the equipment I worked with: a 2-burner electric hot plate, a Pyrex measuring cup partially filled with water, a can to serve as a melting pot fashioned by me with a spout for pouring, a smaller can for wax that has been cleaned up by running it through a metal strainer, a short, narrow can for dipping, tongs to move the melting pot, a wooden spoon to manipulate the melting pot, and a pitcher of cold water to cool and set the wax after each dipping. The metal strainer can be seen at the left, almost out of the picture.
The wax begins to melt
The wax in the can is beginning to melt. The water in the Pyrex measuring cup helps bring the heat up the side of the metal container to help warm the wax. It takes a while for the wax to melt and you don't want to walk away and leave it while it is melting. Both the burner and the wax are hot.
Wire mesh strainer used to remove solid impurities from unprocessed beeswax
This is the wire mesh strainer I used to get the larger impurities out of the wax. The wax I was using can come to me straight from the beehive so it needed a little filtering to get out some junk.
Adding scent to the wax with a solid perfume
To add scent to the wax I used a block of this solid perfume. I didn't bother to measure the ratio of perfume to wax. As it turned out, I could have used a good deal more fragrance to bring out the perfume scent (mostly rose in this case) but when beeswax burns, it has a lovely scent of its own.
Now the dipping begins
Here I'm just starting to dip the wick. I'm holding one end of the wick in my fingers and the weight of the nut and bolt are pulling the wick straight. The can with the hot wax is shorter than I would have liked but it was the best I could find in the studio that day. You want to use a can that's only a bit wider than the candle you want to make. Otherwise you'll need too much wax to fill the can to the top. Here the width of the can was fine but I would have liked more height.
cooling candle in water prior to next dipping
Here I've just dipped the wick in wax and I'm dipping in water to cool the fresh wax and get it ready to dip again. I'm dipping from wax to water, wax to water, not rushed but with no real lag between dippings.
Using second burner to re-heat wax that was cooling
Here I'm using the second burner on the hotplate to re-warm the wax in the dipping container as it had begun to harden.
Scissors used to snip off top and bottom of wick
I used the scissors to snip off the bottom of the wick with the nut and bolt after the wick had enough wax on it to hold it sraight without the weight. When the candle is finished I'll use the scissors again to trim the wick at the top.
Candle is beginning to build
Here you can see the candle looking more like what will be in the end result. You can decide for yourself how thick you want your candle to be. The width shown here would have been nice for a longer taper but since my can was so short I opted for a thicker candle.
Three finished candles
Three finished candles. The wicks have been trimmed at the top. The bottoms are pointed from the dripping wax but could be cut off clean with a thin, sharp blade. I left them as they were so I could fit them snugly into the opening of an empty wine bottle.

A few comments

Overall this was just a fun project. I had beeswax on hand, I purchased some wicking, and I improvised the rest.

If I was to go deeper into candle making (and I don't plan to) I would look into some molds and the cost of beeswax, so that when my supply runs out I'll be able to get more, even if I have to pay for it. Working with beeswax that has already been cleaned up would be nice as I wouldn't have to deal with the impurities, and the candles might come out a bit more uniform.

The surprise here was that the candles I made really burned very nicely. They were as good as any I've ever purchased. No smoke. No wax drip. All very pure and clean.

Candles always worry me a bit due to the fire hazard and I did find myself forgetting when a candle was burning. Still, it was a beautiful sight and I have enjoyed this project.

Again, you'll find more details on this project on the blog.

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Philip Goutell
Lightyears, Inc.