Local Beeswax Candle Making at Home January 11 2016, 1 Comment
Beeswax candle making was my Sunday morning project this past weekend. I woke up early with the morning light to begin as these winter days go by too quickly, and I wanted to savor every minute of the day. With coffee warming in the kitchen, I grabbed my home remedies and DIY book from the shelf and began reading about the candle making process.
I was happy to learn that beeswax candles are more than decorative and light giving, they are also useful for cleaning the air of toxins. Beeswax filters negative ions (toxins such as dust, pollen, dirt and pollutants) from the air, leaving fresher, cleaner air for breathing! + beeswax has a lovely natural scent on its own (think warm honey). The process for making these candles is simple and it was one of my favorite mornings to date!
First, as a vegetarian and someone who values animal well being greatly, here are my thoughts on using beeswax, as it is not a vegan product. Our bees are struggling to make it and they are an absolute essential aspect of our food growth. Commercial bee farmers truck millions of bees all around the country to keep up with the demand of producing fruit, nuts and other pollinator required produce. These commercial bee farms are doing a lot of harm to the bee population as they spread diseases, parasites and do not necessarily treat the bees very well. I strongly suggest staying clear of commercially produced bee products including wax and honey, and if possible, reducing consumption of nuts until this issue can be improved upon. I live in an area where local bee farmers are in abundance. Bee farms that have hives on a small scale and take great pride ensuring their bees are treated fairly and have lovely lives. I currently have a jar of honey in my cupboard from a local bee farmer and the wax I used to make these candles also came from a local, small scale, bee farmer. These type of bee farms are crucial in keeping a healthy bee population and I support them to the fullest! I'm sure with some research and asking around, you can find a source for local beeswax in your hometown. A great place to start would be a local health-food store, as they may carry local beeswax or know of a farmer near by. If you're interested in learning more on the growing bee population decline, I recommend watching More Than Honey (on Netflix), a documentary exposing the bad practices of commercial bee farmers and how it is affecting the bee communities.
- Local filtered beeswax - I used 2.25 pounds to fill nine spice jar sized containers + two jam jars. You can estimate the amount of wax you will need based on the number and size of containers you want to fill. Also, if you have unfiltered beeswax the filtering process is easy and described below.
- Organic coconut oil - I used 1.5 cups. I read that beeswax burns hotter than soy and paraffin wax, so it might be good to mix in a little of this to reduce the burning temperature so that your glass container doesn't crack. If you don't have coconut oil at the house, you can substitute palm oil or other oils that burn at a lower temperature.
- Clean & empty jars to fill - Look around your house, I bet you have quite a few already from salsas, jams and pickles!
- Wicks - thickness depends on your jar size. I used a #2 cotton wick (suggested for 2.5"H spice jars I used) that I picked up from a local craft supply store. If you aren't sure what size wick to get, I would take your jars with you to the craft store as someone there will be able to help. Also, there are some sources online regarding wick sizing by container measurements.
- Snips for cutting the wick (forged iron shears I used can be found here)
- Double boiler or large pot with small pot to fit inside - used to melt wax and oil
- Sticks, paint brushes or pencils - this is for tying the wick to and keeping it in place while you pour in the wax and while the wax is drying
- Parchment paper or funnel - If your double boiler or pot doesn't have a spot for easy pouring, the parchment paper can be used as a funnel or use an actual funnel if you have one.
- Wick tabs - this is the metal base to hold the wick in place. Optional as you can use the wick by itself.
- A beeswax candlestick (or chunk of the beeswax bar) and matches - this is optional and used for setting the metal wick tab (if you're using them) and wick in the jar. If using a wick without a base, this isn't needed.
- Copper tags or pretty string - this is also optional and used to decorate for gifting
1. Start the water in the double boiler (or large bottom pot), and place the filtered beeswax in the top pot. If you have unfiltered wax, follow steps for filtering below. It will take about 15 minutes (or longer) to melt down the wax, and this will give you time to prep the wicks and jars.
2. Cut wicks to about 2 inches taller than the vessel they are going into. This will give you room to tie the end of the wick onto the stick, paint brush or pencil you have for holding the wick in place.
3. If using a wick tab, thread the wick into the tab.
4. If using a wick tab, take the beeswax candle stick or chunk from the bar of wax, melt a little using a match or lighter, and drip a few drops into the center of the jar. Then take the wick threaded into the wick tab and place it on top of the wax drips. Use the end of a pencil or stick to push down on the tab to secure it in place. Hold for a few seconds to allow it to join up with the wax drippings.
5. Whether using a wick tab or just the wick alone, tie the top end of the wick to your pencil or other stick object and let the wick string hang into the center of the jar.
6. Once the beeswax is thoroughly melted, add in the coconut oil or other cooler burning oil you chose. Melt the oil into the beeswax and stir until mixed well and evenly.
7. If not using a wick tab, pour a little bit of the melted wax and oil mixture into the jar and allow to set for a few minutes in order to hold the wick in place in the center of the jar. This is where the funnel or parchment paper funnel is useful to guide the hot wax into the jar. Then once the wick is set, fill up the rest of the way, leaving a small gap at the top so that the wax doesn't pour over the sides of the jar.
8. If using a wick tab, pour the melted wax and oil mixture into the jar and fill almost to the top, leaving a small gap at the top so that the wax doesn't pour over the sides of the jar. This is where the funnel or parchment paper funnel is useful to guide the hot wax into the jar.
9. Allow to dry for 24 hours, then remove the pencils / sticks / paint brushes and snip the wick to about 1/4". The wax color will change in stages as it cools and is a beautiful process to watch!
10. Wait another 24 hours before burning. On first burning, allow the wick to burn long enough to where the wax is evenly melted in the top layer of the candle. This will help prevent tunneling (where the middle of the candle is the only area that melts down). Also, lighting the wick near the base will help to draw wax up onto the wick and allow for proper burning.
If the beeswax you have is unfiltered, meaning straight from the bee hive with specks of grit, you will want to filter it as the grit will not burn like the wax and isn't as pretty as pure beeswax.
- Double boiler or small pot that fits into a large pot
- Cloth - piece of an old sheet, t-shirt or tea towel will work
- Mesh sieve
- Parchment paper
- Large bowl
1. Start the water bolling in the pot, and melt down the wax.
2. Get the filtering area set up by lining the bowl with parchment paper and laying your cloth in the sieve.
3. Once the wax has melted, pour the hot wax through the sieve (with the cloth covering the sieve) and into the bowl lined with parchment paper.
4. Pour the filtered wax from the bowl back into the melting pot, bring back the heat, and start the steps above for filtered wax.