Tuesday, 26 October 2010

beeswax walnut candles

The girls and I made candles as part of our handmade Christmas preparations. Many of these little treasures will become gifts, and yet more will light our home through the darkest nights of December. This is an easy craft that little ones can help with (although most of the tasks will need to be undertaken by a grown up).

You will need:
beeswax pellets or a solid block of beeswax, grated
candle wick
walnut shells (or other small containers for the wax)
double-boiler (for ease of clean up we used a clean tin can - I also squished the sides of the can to create a pouring spout)
metal baking tray
bowl of very cold water (in case of a burn)

1. Gather walnut shells, large acorn caps, hazelnut shells, seashells...any small, natural container. You could make double-wick candles in peanut shells! The shells should be empty, clean and in complete halves. Ideally they will have a reasonably stable base.

2. Put your beeswax pellets in a double-boiler. Bring the water in the larger pan to the boil and supervise the wax, stirring occasionally, until liquified. Do not let any water get into the wax. While the wax is melting, arrange your shells on a metal baking tray (any wax that spills onto the tray can be popped off once cooled - stubborn wax spills will pop off if you put the tray in the freezer for a couple of minutes). I added some leftover wax from an orangey harvest-scented candle stub...the scent complemented the beeswax smell nicely and deepened the natural golden colour.

3. When the wax has melted, take it off the heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Stir again before using.

4. We found that dipping the wick into the hot wax and letting it cool until hardened (only takes a few seconds) made the wick much easier to handle. Once the wax has hardened, you can snip the stiffened wick into approximately 1 inch lengths (or to whatever length is suitable for your container).

5. Slowly and carefully, pour the hot wax into each shell (this is a job only for adults - the wax will be very hot and will stick to skin). I filled about 5 shells at a time before stopping to insert wicks.

6. Gently push a piece of wick into the centre of each wax-filled walnut. The more liquid the wax is when you push the wick in, the less likely you are to get an unsightly air bubble rising to the surface. There is an art to getting the wick in at just the right moment - too hot and the wax won't support the wick, too cool and you'll disturb the surface - but after a few attempts you'll figure it out.

7. Allow the walnut candle to cool. Ours solidified within a couple of minutes and took about 15 minutes to cool completely. The wax changes colour slightly as it cools (you can see this in the above photo).

We have only burned one of our walnut candles so far and it lasted about half an hour. I can't wait to give these to loved ones for Christmas!