Creating Candles

You can use several types of mediums to make beautiful candles from scratch. Basically, you can craft molded candles from melted wax pieces or melted gel wax, or you can roll candles from sheets of beeswax. There are many types of decorative pieces that you can add to make your candles unique. You can also use liquid scent and dyes for a professional touch. The following are the basic steps to making beautiful candles.

Poured Wax Candles

Don't be afraid to try your hand at these lovely molded candles. They're a lot easier to make than you might think, and they create a romantic atmosphere when lit for dinner.

Prepare your mold by taping a wick with a metal tab onto the bottom of the mold. If you use a waxed wick (which is stiff), it should stand up in the middle of the mold. If you don't have a stiff wick, tape the other end of the wick to a pencil and lay it over the mold to keep the wick in the center.

Place the wax pieces (either colored wax pieces or chunks of paraffin) in a tin can such as a coffee can. Fill a frying pan half full of water and bring it to a boil. Place the tin can in the boiling water. Continue boiling the water until the wax is melted. Add candle dye and/or liquid scent and stir well.

Use an oven mitt to remove the can from the boiling water. Pour the wax into the mold, being careful not to disturb the wick. Poke any bubbles that may occur in the candle with a toothpick and refill the holes with more melted wax.

Holiday Hints

If you have broken crayons hanging around the house that you aren't using, you can peel them and add them to the wax pieces to color the candles. You can also remove the wicks from old or broken candles and re-melt them to make new candles. If you don't have a candle mold, try cutting the bottom off of a quart milk carton, washing it out, and using it for a mold. You can peel the carton off when the wax is hardened.

Gel Candles

Making gel candles is a new trend that is creative and fun to do. There are many options to consider when choosing a container for a gel candle. For example, you can make candles in cocktail glasses as decorations for an adult party, or you can make a whimsical fish bowl candle for a unique mother's day gift.

Prepare the candle container by gluing or taping the end of a wick to the bottom of it. If the wick is not stiff (waxed), tape the other end of the wick to a pencil and lay it across the top of the container.

Place any decorative pieces that you wish to sink to the bottom inside the container (such as marbles and decorative glass), being careful not to disturb the wick.

Spoon out about 1/3 of the gel wax into a small saucepan. You might have to use a knife to cut around the edges of the gel to facilitate an easy removal. Melt the wax on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes or until it turns to liquid. Add a couple drops of dye to the gel if desired. Place a candy thermometer in the gel when melting it and do not exceed 260°F.

Carefully pour the wax into the prepared container, keeping the wick straight up and down in the center. Allow the wax to cool for about 10 minutes. Using tweezers, insert any decorative pieces that you would like to appear to be floating in the candle into the gel on the side of the container, away from the wick. Allow the candle to cool thoroughly (several hours) before handling.

Holiday Hassles

When making homemade candles, be especially careful that the wax doesn't boil over or spill onto a burner. Wax is highly flammable and will catch fire instantly. Have some sand on hand to put out any accidental fires that could occur. (If you're careful and keep your eye on the melting wax, then you shouldn't have a problem.) Don't throw unused wax down a drain or a clog will occur when it hardens. Gel wax should never be melted in a microwave oven.

Rolled Beeswax Candles

Beeswax candles can be rolled or molded into unique shapes according to your preference. They burn clean and clear and give off a pleasant natural essence.

Place the beeswax sheet on a cutting board. Using a ruler and an Exacto knife, cut the wax to the desired height and width. Allow at least 6 inches of beeswax as the width to make sure you have enough to roll around the wick.

Cut a piece of candle wicking 1 inch longer than the height of the candle. Place the wick on one end of the beeswax and begin to roll the beeswax tightly around the wick. Apply some pressure to the candle when rolling it, and mold the ends together to keep the wick in place. The tighter you roll the candle, the better it will burn. If necessary, use a hair dryer to heat the beeswax to make it more pliable for rolling into candles.

More on: Crafts for Kids


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Holiday Crafts © 2002 by Marilee LeBon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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