We had so much fun making birthday candles for Keats’ birthday, that this week we decided to try making some more. We came up with a pretty good system, and I thought you guys might want details!
For starters, we didn’t use traditional candle wick this time, but made our own using inexpensive hemp cord. Beeswax is a slower melting wax than typical birthday candle wax (paraffin) and hemp burns more slowly than cotton, so it is a good match for the beeswax.
I melted our beeswax in a two cup glass measuring cup (that I reserve for beeswax) in a pot of simmering water on the stove, but you could use a large tomato can to hold the wax instead. If you can’t find beeswax locally you can purchase beeswax pellets on Amazon. I think purchasing a pound is a good bet. You need enough to fill your container to a depth of at least three inches. You can always find something to do with leftover beeswax. Once your wax is melted, you will want to measure the depth of your wax and the depth of your container to determine the length you should cut your twine. The depth of the wax is only important because it will determine the length of your candles. We thought three inches was a good length. My wax was about 3 inches deep and my container 4 inches. I cut 7 inch lengths of twine so I would have enough for tying knots on each end.
To weigh the twine down so it hangs straight in the melted wax you will need something like a metal washer to attach at one end. Mine were small and light, so I tied three to the bottom of each piece of twine.
To prime the wicks, a simple process that stiffens them, makes it easy to set them nice and straight, and helps them to burn evenly, you place the pencil over your container of melted wax and let the wicks soak for a few minutes.
Once the wicks are dry (they dry quickly,) cut off the washers and use your fingers to gently straighten the wicks if necessary. (I usually found it necessary.) Repeat the priming process until you have primed as many wicks as you need.
Now you are ready to start dipping your candles. I brought the melted wax to the table for safety because my kids were helping. After a little while I would have to return it to the pot of simmering water to melt again. We used the loop at the top as a handle. It took us quite a few dips to reach the diameter we were aiming for. Dip quickly so that you don’t melt the previous dip’s wax layer. Let the wax dry and harden just a bit between dips. We found that the longer you wait, the better your next layer will coat the candle.
When working on these by myself, I created a little assembly line. I would work on 8 or more candles at a time, dipping each one, letting it cool slightly and then placing it on a sheet of wax paper before picking up the next one, and so on until they were finished.
The wax naturally drips to the base of each candle, creating a long drip that I cut off, just to the base of the wick, once the candles were fully hardened. I then used the warmth of my fingers to gently smooth the base of each candle. The last step is to trim off the loop of twine at the top of each candle.
Disclaimer: My only qualification in writing this tutorial is my willingness to do so and the experience we had making them. They seem to burn quite evenly. The beeswax is so much nicer than typical birthday candles because it burns slowly, resulting in less dripping, not to mention the fact that it is all natural! There are more “correct” ways out there to make candles of this sort I am sure, but this worked well for us.