Candles bring an air of elegance and softness to any room in which they are used. They serve many purposes from simple illumination to creating a centerpiece for a table. Candles have been around for centuries. No one knows just how long they have been around. Egyptians were some of the first to use beeswax candles dating back to 3000 B.C. There are artifacts that show that the first candles with wicks were created during the Roman period in history. Our love for candles and the art of candle making is always developing. This is apparent in the styles of the candles that we use.
So, you want to make candles?
There are many types of candles to choose from when you consider candle making. The key is to choose one type of candle to make and get that one down pat before starting another. Start slow and build your craft. This will give you a feel for working with wax and the equipment necessary for making candles. With so many methods and types of candles that you can make it can get very confusing and frustrating.
Start by working with the basic poured candle. For this type of candle you will need the following; a dedicated pot that will be used only for melting your wax, a candy thermometer so that you can check the wax temperature, a wooden spoon or two to work with, wax, dye, and wick supplies which you can buy at your local craft store. You may also want to purchase additives such as vybar or steric acid because these can increase the burn time of your candle. Paraffin is the most commonly used wax for candle making today and the best for a beginner to start with.
Find containers that are functional, decorative, and safe. Some of the best places to find containers are from thrift stores, yard sales, and your own kitchen. Examples of containers are things such as old teacups, funny coffee mugs, good heavy glasses, and of course the Mason jar.
You have what you need, now what?
After gathering all the supplies and equipment in one place you are ready to get started. A word of caution here is to be sure that all your equipment is clean and dry. Test your container prior to pouring hot wax into it to be sure that it will not break and can be used safely. Place a small drop of hot glue on the metal bottom of the wick then place it into the center of the container making sure to press down well. The wick can be kept in the center by wrapping a small portion of the wick around a pencil that lies on top of the container. Make sure to secure the pencil before pouring the wax.
Safety is important when working with heat and wax so keep a fire extinguisher handy. And never throw water on a fire caused by wax!
Use a large pan that is approximately 1/3 full of water and bring the temperature of the water to 212° Fahrenheit. Place your pot with wax into the water. Keep the water at the same temperature while melting the wax. Do not let the water boil away; add water as needed. Use the thermometer to test the temperature of the wax. Follow the manufacturer’s suggested temperature for melting wax because it varies with different waxes. Typically the best temperature for container wax is 170 – 175 degrees. Never let the wax exceed 250 degrees!
Once the wax has melted add the vybar or steric acid to the wax and mix well. The final step before pouring is adding color to your melted wax making sure to mix well. You are now ready to pour your melted candle wax into your container. Fill the container leaving approximately ¼ of headroom for the wick. Once the candle wax has set you may then remove the pencil. Trim the wick ¼ inch from the wax.
You have done it! You’ve made your first decorative candle and are now hooked. You have so much to explore and lots of ideas. As with all projects, have fun and be safe!