As far as crafts go, this one is super simple. We learned how to make hand-dipped beeswax candles at the Halton Waldorf School back in December; I remember that the entire process was very relaxing. And I already had a brick of beeswax left over from making hand lotions last month, so all I needed was a wick.
Which was a bit more complicated than I thought.
I read that cotton wicks are the best for beeswax candles. They don’t burn as hot as the wicks with metal and they don’t contain lead. After calling every candle and craft and health food store in Hamilton, I finally found some at Dutchman’s Gold out in Carlisle, which is a pleasant 20 minute trip from our house. We headed out on our country drive as soon as The Princess finished school, and we bought our wicks and some Blueberry Blossom honey too. Yum.
After supper, The Pixie went to bed and The Princess and I got to work. I had almost a full brick of wax and I started off by grating it like I did when I made lotions.
Once it was grated, we melted the it all. We don’t have a double boiler so we put about an inch of water in a large pot and put a smaller pot inside with the wax. I have to say, it looks like there’s a lot less when the wax is melted down, so we ended up throwing the rest of the brick in the pot. This time, we didn’t bother to grate it. That’s probably just necessary if you need to measure accurately.
When all the wax had melted, we poured it in an old travel mug that has a broken (ie useless) lid. We wanted something tall and skinny and we thought the double-walled stainless steel mug might even help keep the wax warm.
Next, we dipped the wick into the wax. Again. And again. And again. For ever.
Now, the trick is to dip it in quickly, then keep it out for 5 – 10 seconds until the wax dries. If you leave the wick in the hot wax too long, the wax that’s already on the wick melts back off. At first it feels like nothing is happening, but after awhile your candle begins to take shape and show some character.
Given how tedious it was, The Princess seemed to really enjoy herself. She is five years old and she is cautious enough that I wasn’t worried about her burning herself – even so, we didn’t leave her alone with it at anytime. The wax is really hot. If you’re doing this with kids, you need to decide first if the children are cautious and careful enough to be safe. And if you haven’t already, making candles with your kids is a great opportunity to talk about the importance of fire safety.
In the end, we made three candles before I sent her off to bed. I love the personality that they have! One candle looks like a gnome and one looks like a tree (we covered the candle in drips of wax to achieve this effect). We also made a third candle by putting a wick in a mason jar and pouring all the excess wax around it so it wouldn’t be wasted.
My kitchen smells SOOOOO GOOD right now. I hope it still smells as lovely tomorrow when I’m picking wax off my dishes and my floor…
- We tied the wick around a chop stick and let The Princess dip the candle in the cup like a fishing line (you can see this in the picture above). This stopped her fingers from getting anywhere close to the hot wax, but it also made her candle move around a lot more, flinging wax on to the floor.
- The floor. Oh my goodness, you cannot imagine how messy my floor got. PUT DOWN SOMETHING UNDERNEATH!
- And by something, DO NOT USE A LAPTOP. Yup, I know this is what you’ve been waiting for! I foolishly was playing with the mason jar candle while chatting on Twitter and managed to cover my hand, my keyboard and my laptop screen in a whole lot of burning hot wax. The wax oozed under the keys and then solidified, which led to quality tweets like this:
— Tamara Watson (@tea4tamara) February 22, 2013
I think it’s okay though. I had to remove some keys but I think it will survive. Lesson learned! And now we have three beautiful new candles to choose from for our dinner tomorrow. Although I might just keep using our old one and treasure these ones for awhile first.