You Are At: AllSands Home > Howto > Making Candles
Autumn was the time when early settlers made candles when plenty of bee fat was available to melt into tallow and summer bee hives had provided a good supply of beeswax. Today other sources of wax make the wonderful task of candle making a rewarding experience. Paraffin was discovered in the 1850's providing a smokeless way of candle making. Today, paraffin is the main ingredient in most candles. Paraffin is a petroleum by product that comes in five grades and is sold in most craft shops for candle making. Beeswax, unless you have your own hives, is expensive but can also be purchased in craft stores. Bayberry candles which are always favorites at Christmas are made from the wax coated fruit of the bayberry shrub. Tallow, which is beef or sheep fat, is seldom used today for candle making due to the smoky, sputtering effect it gives the finished product.
To make your candles with paraffin you will need a 10 pound slab which will meld down into approximately 4 quarts of liquid wax. Almost anything from jars, plastic cups, cans, cardboard rolls, to specially purchased shapes can be used for molds. Each mold will need to be coated with silicone spray or cooking oil to keep the paraffin from sticking to the mold. Wicks are the fuel of your candles and can be made by soaking heavy cotton yarn in a solution of 1 tablespoon salt, 2 tablespoons boric acid and one cup of water for twelve hours. Remove from the water and allow to dry. Braid three of the strands together to create a wick. Wicks can also be purchased at any craft store. You will need a candy thermometer to measure the temperature, as well as, plenty of newspaper to cover your work area. Use a pan or large coffee can that you will be re-using for this purpose to melt your wax. Break the paraffin into chunks. Fill a wide bottom pan with water and place the pan or can in the center. As the chunks melt replace them with additional pieces. When the was is melted add 3 tablespoons of stearin per pound of wax and coloring, scents or other additives. Most wax is highly flammable so be very careful and never heat on an open flame without a pan of water under your wax container. In case a fire starts douse the flames by covering the wax container or pouring baking soda over it.
Dyes and scents can be powdered, liquid or solid but should be made especially for candles. Add dyes in small amounts, dripping a bit of the wax on a white paper plate to test the color. For drip candles tie wicks around a stick that will fit across your wax container leaving plenty of room for you to grasp it on each side. Dip the wicks in the hot wax and then dip in a container of cool water. Blot dry and then repeat this process until the tapers are the desired thickness. Roll the tapers while still warm on an even surface to straighten them. For molds, stand a plastic straw in the mold and then fill with wax. When the wax hardens, remove the straw and tie foil to one end of the wick and thread the other end through. You can fill the space with additional wax or allow the wax to melt inward when the candle is lit. You can also buy wick anchors at any craft store. To use these, simply attach to one end of the wick and use a drop of wax to fix it to the bottom center of your mold. Wrap the top of the wick around a stick that will lay across the top of your mold and pour in the hot wax.