Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Got a Match? I've got a Beeswax Candle

This is not the Great Wall in Beijing. Neither is it Crocus's gold. No, this is even better. These are beautiful bricks of beeswax (from Dave's apiaries - I didn't have enough wax from my hives).

This project: Making Beeswax Candles using a silicon mold

I've never done this before so should I start with what I did wrong? :)

First a warning--no I didn't burn my house down or start a fire but if you want to try this you should know that beeswax will ignite if it reaches over 170 degrees Celsius so always be sure to watch the temperature setting on your melting device.

Some people use a microwave to melt their wax. I had a spare crock pot so I put my brick of wax in it set on Low.

The advice I got is that fatter candles are easier to make than tapered ones. Personally I find small or skinny candles burn down quickly so I used a 3x6" pillar mold.

Equipment Needed:

*Large chunks of wax to melt

*Heat Proof Pouring Container
A clean used tin can pinched with a pour spout or better yet a glass Pyrex measuring cup with the spout works great. Either way, don't burn your hands on the hot container.

*Wick
The thicker the candle the thicker the wick will need to be. Push the wick up from the hole in the bottom of the mold.

*Metal Wick Holders
These aren't mandatory but they help to hold the wick at the bottom of the candle. I think that's the part I did wrong - I put the metal bit at the bottom of the mold but I think it should go at the top. In other words, the bottom of the mold ends up being the top of the candle.

*Silicon Molds (mine is a fat pillar)
Other heat proof molds can be used made of metal, rubber, etc.

*Metal Coffee Filter (optional)
Use if the wax is dirty to filter prior to pouring. I didn't use it.

*Large Bobby Pins or Popsicle Sticks
They hold the wick at the center of the candle.

Directions

Melt the Wax
Remove dirt & debris if any
Dirt will sink to the bottom
Place the beeswax along with a wax thermometer into the pot and let it get to about 170 degrees (no higher than that!).

Steps to Prepare the Mold:

Spray the inside of the mold.
A spray release of some kind is needed or the candle will stick itself inside the mold and be too difficult to remove. Spray Pam cooking spray (found in your local grocery store) inside the mold before pouring. It aids with the release. I think another beekeeper said she uses dish soap but I'd have to confirm that.

Note: The Pam spray didn't coat the inside evenly which I think contributed to the uneven surface of the candle. See photo showing the uneven surface. (I didn't care, this was a fun project).

Insert the Wick
Keeping wicks straight can be an issue - I saw bobbie pins, popsicle sticks and elastics being used to hold the wicks upright. I used a metal knitting stitch holder.

Pour the Wax
If the wax has debris, a metal coffee filter (purchase at the grocery store) can be used to filter the wax. I used a glass Pyrex cup with a pour spout.

Pour the beeswax into the mold. Pour it slowly to avoid air bubbles from developing in the liquid beeswax. The wax cools amazingly quickly.

Tap the outside of the mold to release any trapped air.

Let the beeswax cool and harden. The larger the mold, the more time will be needed for the wax to harden.


Release the Candle from the Mold
Once the candle has hardened, put the candle, mold and all into the freezer for 10 or more minutes first. It helps with the release - probably the slight frost melts and helps to slide it out.

Slide the poured beeswax candle out of the candle mold. In candles with a wick hole, the last side to slide out of the mold is the top of the candle. Trim the wick on the top of the candle down to about 1/2 inch.

In my case the wax seemed to shrink from the sides and it slid out very easily - no freezing required.

Cut the wick
Leave a 1/4" wick at the top of the candle for lighting. Cut the tail of wick off at the bottom of the candle.

Rub candle bottom on a rough surface to smooth it out. If you're a beekeeper, the best thing to file the bottom is foundation - rub the bottom of the candle on a piece of foundation. The bees will love the extra wax.


Get a match and light it!

Now how about some advice from the experts out there? Feel free to post links to your blog for candle making directions.
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