Monday, October 6, 2008

LOG: Candle Making

Welcome friends to the first installment of the 'Living Off the Grid' series!

While my mother was off visiting my grandmother, she learned how to make candles. I thought it was a pretty cool idea, and the candle she made was very cute. So I figured this could be our first 'how to' in the Living Off the Grid Series. I mean, you're going to want to see at night and electricity will probably be one of the first creature comforts to go if we do end up in the dark ages 2.0. I mean, it's helpful but not completely necessary for your survival.

First off, you're going to need to gather some supplies. You are going to need:

  • A candle mold
    • You'll want to be sure that it's something that has a base wider than the mouth so that you can get the candle out of the mold when you're done.
    • Soup cans won't work either ... they have ridges that will stop you from taking your candle out.
  • A medium sized pan and a coffee can
    • These will work as your double boiler to melt down your wax
  • Last, but certainly not least, you'll need some wax
    • You can choose to use paraffin (the most popular), bayberry (pricey), tallow, beeswax or soy wax.
  • Thick cotton string for the wicks
Candle Making:
First, you'll need to set up your boiler. Place the coffee can in the medium pan and fill the pan with water. You will always want water in the pan, but not enough for the coffee can to bounce all around. Once the wax starts to melt though, the weight will help with this problem.

Now, put your wax (you can also melt down old candles if you have some laying around your house) into the coffee can and let it melt. Cut your wax into chunks and if you're using old candles, remove charred wicks before putting the candles into the boiler. Stir the melting wax with an old spoon and fish out the old wicks from the used candles.

Once the wax is really nice and melty, it's time to pour the wax into the mold. You'll take the coffee can out of the pan and let it sit for a minute before you pour it. Remember, you will really want to use an oven mitt or towel to pour the wax - the coffee can will be hot! Leave a little space between the bottom of the candle and the top of the mold, it'll make taking your candle out of the mold a little easier.

Making the wicks:
I bet you were worried that I wouldn't cover this topic ... well, never fear! You will want to measure your string so that it's the length of your mold with an extra couple of inches so that you have something to burn on the top part of it.

Before you pour the wax into the candle mold, you'll dip the ends of the wicks into the wax and either hang them on a clothes line or lay them on some wax paper to harden. Be sure to lay them out straight ... they will go into the candles better when the time comes.

To insert the wicks into your freshly poured candle, wrap the long un-waxed end of the wick around a pencil and lower the other end of the wick into the candle. Do your best to be sure that your wick goes all the way through to the bottom of the mold. But if not, don't despair. You can always melt down the left overs for another candle!

Removing your candle from the mold:
You'll want to wait about 24 hours before taking your candle out of the mold. While the outside of it may be solid, that doesn't mean that it's cooled the whole way through. To get a fully cooled candle out of the mold, just flip it over and tap it. If your mold was made of paper, just peel the paper off of your new candle.

If tapping the bottom doesn't work you can insert a knife and run it around the edge of the candle to sperate it from the mold. If that doesn't work and your candle is refusing to move, you can submerge the mold in really wamr water which should soften it up enough that it will just slide right out.

If you want to some more information, I found these websites to be quite helpful. How to Make Candles and the Types of Wax Used for Candle Making.

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