Wednesday, June 24, 2009

All About Candles


Making candles is a fun project for both children and adults.

This is an easy and cheap activity that doesn't require many supplies, as long as you can give up some old pots.

There are 6 basic techniques for making candles:

  • Gel candles are kept in transparent containers.
  • Dipped candles or taper candles. These candles are thin and tapered.
  • Molded candles. This easy technique doesn't require much material, but what it uses can't be reused. Don't use your best pots for this one!
  • Rolled candles with sheets of beeswax. Making them is simple and has surprisingly good results. Accessible even to children, these pretty candles have an incomparable scent.
  • Wax bead candles: you only need to pour the beads in a container (glass is the safest in this case) and alternate layers of color, then add a wick. You can also try making patterns using a toothpick.
  • Moldable candles: like modeling clay, you shape them with your fingers and can mix them to make new colors. After they’re shaped, use a toothpick to carefully make a hole to slide the wick through. Make sure to make candles that are flat and thick enough so that the candle can burn for a fairly long time.


When it comes to candles, it's all about wax.

  • Paraffin wax is the most commonly used base. It always needs to be mixed with stearin (at a proportion of 10% stearin to 90% paraffin).
    • Stearin facilitates removal of the candle from the mold and acts as a solidifying agent.
    • Always begin by melting the stearin before the paraffin.
    • Ready-made mixtures of stearin and paraffin are available at specialty stores.

  • Beeswax is a natural product.
    • Beeswax is costly and a little dififcult to work with because it is very sticky.
    • However, beeswax candles burn more slowly than the other types of candles. Because of this, beeswax is often mixed with other types of wax to slow the burning process.
    • If the percentage of beeswax in a wax mixture exceeds 10% of the total, you should coat the inside of the mold with petroleum jelly if you want to be able to remove the candle from the mold.

  • Taper candle wax is a wax blend that's more malleable than other waxes. Because it doesn't flake away, it's used for projects requiring precision, particularly for engraving.

Other Supplies

  • Candle making doesn't require a lot of supplies. However, the materials you use should be dedicated to candle making. Don't expect to be able to salvage the pot in which you melt the candle wax.

  • Wicks
    • The wick is the component that allows the candle to burn.
    • Its thickness must be adapted to the type of candle you're making: candles with a large diameter and candles made from beeswax require thick wicks.
    • Some wicks are called "cored" or "wired" because they are woven around a metal strand. These are primarily used in long-burning candles.
    • So that they can be easily used, wicks should be stiffened by soaking them in paraffin for 5 minutes so that they are permeated by it.

  • Candle scents are tested to make sure that they don't affect the heat of the candle, so there's no problem with using them. A few drops will suffice.

  • Dyes
    • Candles can be dyed either completely or superficially. In either case, you can use solid or liquid colorants. These dyes should be mixed as you go along with the stearin, before the paraffin. Take note: the color of the hot wax won't be the same as the color of the cooled wax.
    • To test the color, take a small drop out of your wax mixture and let it dry. You can then alter the color of the wax mixture if it's not the color you want.

  • Molds
    • Plastic and latex are the most commonly used molds. They are available in many more shapes than are glass molds, but their lifespan is much shorter.
    • Candles can be created in all sorts of molds. For example, you can use muffin tins to make small floating candles, or you can use old milk cartons to make square pillar candles.
    • If a mold isn't waterproof, you can use modeling clay to seal it.


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