Saturday, December 13, 2008

Candles for the dark days of winter

Bees wax candles ionize the air and reduce odors. They are dripless, smokeless, and fill the air with sweet honey aroma. They are free of toxic fumes and are health enhancing.

Last week the student made beeswax candles. We needed candles for the advent wreath and tapers for everyday use. We have a tin candle mold which is touchy and difficult to use. The student decided to hand dip her candles instead.

She melted a brick of beeswax in a recycled rectangular olive oil can, using a large stock pot filled with water as a make-shift double boiler. The beeswax was melted on medium and took about 3 hours to fully melt. It smells like honey as its melting and fills the house with sweetness.

Do not try to speed the process of melting by pushing down on the unmelted top layer. A volcano of hot wax over the stove, floor, cupboards and hands are the result and require several hours of clean up with heat gun and paper towels. So beware! Melted beeswax on hands can burn.

To dip 12 inch candles cut 30 inch lengths of wick -- usually a woven braid of round cotton cord. Fold the wick in half and dip into the melted wax, while holding the wick over a dowel. In times past a notched dowel was reserved for the purpose which could dip several candles at once. The student dipped one set at a time, holding it over the pot until the drips had solidified. Then removing it to a cooling rack. A wooden clothes drying rack served this purpose, with a wornout sheet under the rack to protect the floor. Its snowing so we couldn't do this outside.

After two or three dippings, the wicks are straitened while still warm by pulling down on the wick. After the candle is 1/2 inch thick, it is rolled on a counter to to bring it true. Even then the candles have a one of a kind charm. Not the mass produced candles found in the gallery stores.

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