Homestead Crafts Dipping beeswax candles.
Beeswax is a waxy, non-toxic and natural substance secreted by bees after they consume honey. Bees use this wax to construct honeycombs, a structure of hexagonal cells made by bees to hold their larvae and for storing the honey to feed the larvae and to feed themselves during winter, it can be used to make candles that are both beautiful and beneficial.
I have been wanting to try my hand at dipping beeswax candles for some time now. So far G.D. and my own experience of candle making has extended to using left over assorted wax collected from neighbours, family and friends, melted down and set in candle moulds, we have also made pillar candles made of soy wax, some natural, some coloured and some scented as appropriate for the season (see July 4th 2018 Post) and so far it has proved surprisingly easy.
‘Many people prefer beeswax to paraffin candles because as an all natural product, they are more attractive to individuals who practice a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. The bees are not harmed in the production of beeswax candles, and because it takes approximately 33 million visits to flowers for bees to create a single pound of beeswax, many individuals also feel beeswax has a stronger spiritual connection to the power and productivity of nature than other types of candles. It is the beeswax candle health benefits that attract most users, however, and those benefits can be substantial depending on the type of candle and the health of the person burning it’. ref -candles.lovetoknow.com
Some dedicated equipment for melting the wax is needed like an old pan to heat the water and a tall jug for the melting wax, or double boiler, but nothing you can’t find in a charity shop, wick is relatively cheap, wick and candle making equipment can also found in craft shops and online as well. The candle making process does not so much require great skill, more it is getting a feel for the differing waxes and becoming familiar with how temperature affects each wax as to pouring and setting.
Hand dipping candles especially beeswax has always appealed to me, it seems to me to be a gentle process, a little slower than other methods and yet lots of fun, great to share with kids, the smell of the melting beeswax is homey and the golden sunshine colour of the hanging candles as they dry just simply makes me happy.
Getting the wick right is important in candle making, luckily there is lots of guidance as to which ones to use for the type of candle and wax you are using. If your wick is too thin the candle will drown in wax, if it is too thick the wick wont keep up with the melting wax.
Equipment needed for dipping beeswax candles. I used-
1 kg of beeswax pellets at £12.99 from Mouldmaster and
NT14 wick from www.4candles.co.uk.
Some hexagon nuts to use as weights to keep the wicks straight and to stop the candles floating upwards in the water, (which we already had).
I used our dedicated jug and saucepan to heat the wax and boil the water in and
a large popcorn plastic tub to hold the cold water for cooling the candles between dipping.
Scissors to cut the nuts off.
Place to hang the candles to cool and harden.
What I found is if you want to make a lot of candles the same length at the same time you will need to have extra melted wax on the go to top up your jug as the level of wax will go down as the candles are made.
I made eleven 3 & 1/2″ (9 cm ) taper candles and 4 birthday candles today. I used less than half my 1 kg of original wax. I would estimate that I could make another 2 batches of the same size and quantity candles with the remaining wax , but of course remembering that extra wax is needed to keep the levels up. If you did not want to keep hold of the wax left over you could use this to make mould candles such as little t lights, but check you use the correct wick for this. I am holding on to my wax for this next project.
To make taller candles I am going to need more wax than I had, I estimate about the same again so I can fill the jug up higher to give me the dipping depth. With the Left over wax from today reserved for this project and new wax due by the end of the week I should have enough. This time I am using wax blocks as my research has shown I will get even more honey aroma from using the blocks. Eventually I want to try with unrefined beeswax, but this is expensive and harder to source in the u.k., however the aroma is meant to be amazing and also I am majorly interested as using the candles medicinally for their health giving properties. Best possible outcome would to be able to source from a local bee keeper in the Cornwall area.
‘Beeswax candles are reputed to have several health benefits, including…
- Lower Toxicity: Because beeswax candles are all natural, they do not produce toxic byproducts and heavy soot when burned. Some types of candles produce minute traces of chemicals known to be carcinogenic, but this is not a problem with beeswax candles.
- Neutralizing Pollutants: Beeswax candles produce negative ions when burned, and those ions help to neutralize pollutants in the air. This helps eliminate dust, odors, and mold in the atmosphere, easing allergy and asthma symptoms and improving breathing for anyone nearby.
- Relaxation: The simple act of burning a candle has relaxing properties and can aid in stress relief and meditation. The mildly sweet, natural honey scent of beeswax candles can aid that relaxation without being overwhelming as artificially scented candles can become.
- Safety: Because beeswax candles are all natural and produce no byproducts, they are naturally drip less when used properly and are thus safer to burn. This avoids the risk of burns and other injuries that can result from burning other types of candles improperly.
- Light: Beeswax candles have the brightest, purest light of any candles and are closest to natural sunlight. If the candles are to be used as a light source, this can help minimize eye strain and reduce headaches.
Using Beeswax Candles
There are many ways to burn beeswax candles to take advantage of their natural health benefits. Individuals who suffer from breathing difficulties such as asthma or allergies should consider burning only pure beeswax candles, and burning the candles for 30-60 minutes in the bedroom before sleeping can help clear the air for more restful sleep. Beeswax candles are also best to use in the kitchen where they will help neutralize odors without tainting food with artificial aromas, and they can also be used in a home office or any other area where there may be a large concentration of use and lingering odors. Beeswax candles can even be used in a nursery to clear the air for young and delicate lungs, but remember that burning candles should never be left unattended around children. ref-candles.lovetoknow.com
1. Melt the wax over a gentle constant heat. Once the wax has fully melted let the wax cool a tad but not so much that it starts to thicken.
2. Measure and cut wicks to approximately 16″ then fold in half to make 2 candle wicks.
3. Attach a weight to each end by dipping the end of the wick in the melted wax and then lifting out and pressing the wick and the metal together, allow it to cool and fasten.
4. Dip the wick into the wax to the depth you have decided you want your candles to be, dip up to half an inch from the fold in the wick, don’t be too long at this point, it really is a quick dip in the wax and then out into the cool water, remember the water container needs to be as deep as the candle length. If you are too long also the heat will melt the wax holding the weights on and you will loose them off the end. You can tie the weights on but I tried that method and found the other way keeps the end more streamlined and manageable, especially when it comes to the snipping off and retrieving the weights.
5. The dipping and cooling is repeated until you are happy with the length and width of your candle. How often you have to dip will depend on the temperature of the wax. Hotter wax will remelt the wax that has already been layered on the wick, cooler wax puddles on the candle and layers up faster, but the quality of the candles is not as good. We dipped between 15-20 times. Other sites state 10 times I think this varies enormously depending on wax heat and how thick you want the candles, seems to me best to go by your eye as to how many dips are needed.
6. Take a sharp pair of scissors and snip off the weighted end, I like to just flatten the bottom of the candle by running over a hard surface, reshape if necessary using your fingers and then dip the candle one last time to seal the bottom.
7. Hang the candles somewhere safe to dry and harden without touching each other, I used the bottom of an iron triangle, but I was not making a huge amount.
8. Pry the weights out while the wax is still pliable.
To make the birthday candles, cut the wicks about 10 inches (26 cms) long. Only dip about five times.
Once hardened cut the pairs of candles apart and trim the wicks until they are no more than ¼ inch (1 cm) long.
Never pour waxy water down the drain, it will cool and block up the drain.
Never let your wax smoke. This can cause a spontaneous fire. Never melt wax unattended. And never melt wax directly on a heat source, always use the double boiler method or a can inside a pot of water.