Making your own candles is an interesting and easy hobby that can save you money and also give you the chance to express your creativity in an unusual way. With a bit of practice you should be able to achieve results as good as anything you find in the shops.
Obviously the first thing that you need is wax. You can buy this from craft stores, or online. It generally comes in big blocks, or else in flakes. The flakes are easier to use because you can use the exact quantity you need, rather than having to hack off chunks from a lump using guesswork. But to save money, you can also use old candle ends – really they are just as good. The wax you will generally be able to buy is paraffin wax – basically a chemical ingredient.
Another ingredient you should think about when you make your own candles is stearin. This is itself a kind of wax but based on animal fat. Stearin makes the candle softer and also easier to get the candle out of the mold – this is a major consideration when you are using a difficult shaped mold. Most people recommend about 5 to 10 per cent stearin the paraffin wax.
And of course you will need a wick. Candle suppliers will provide these – you need to get the right diameter for the candle you are making. Two other things you can add to customise your candle are color and fragrance. You’ll only need a small quantity of each.
Finally, you need a mold. You can buy these in various shapes and sizes from candle making outlets, but you can also improvise and use plastic containers, old (clean) food containers – the only limit is your imagination. If you want to make a candle that is long and tapered, it’s a very good idea to spray some candle release agent into the mold before you start – this will make it much easier to get the candle out. Such agents are basically silicone spray, the same as you would use to release a rusty mechanism.
Secure the wick inside the mold and place the mold upside down ready to receive the molten wax. Now you need to heat up the wax. On a safety point, you should never heat the wax directly over the stove (for example in a pan). You run the risk of it getting too hot and bursting into flames. Instead you should melt it in a double boiler, or in a bowl placed inside a pan of boiling water. It take a lot longer but is worth the risk. When the wax is molten pour it carefully into the mold. As the wax sets, it will shrink so you will probably need to top up.
Don’t be impatient to get the candle out of the mold – it needs to be set hard. If you can, it’s a good idea to leave it in the freezer overnight. Then, a sharp tap on the mold, and the candle should come out. Hey presto, you have a beautiful object that’s all your own work, plus, you’ll have saved money. For more information to make your own candles, there is an free online tutorial at Candlewhiz.
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