***Our guest post today is from one of my best friends, Caprice! She’s been married for three years (three years today as a matter of fact! Happy Anniversary, Cupcake! ) and lives with her hubby near Temecula, CA. She has become quite the crafty homemaker as well. She is a part-time piano teacher and now she can add candle-making to her repertoire of talents!
We all love the beautiful glow of candles in our home—the inviting scents and warm shadows that dance on the walls. But have you ever stopped to think about what’s in those home fires you’re burnin’? I never did! Until recently…
Over the last few months I’ve been on a quest to “detoxify” my life as much as possible! It’s really kind of scary that so many chemical toxins have been deemed “unsafe” or even “banned” in other countries. But here in the good old U.S. of A the almighty dollar is trumping health and safety, and those same toxins are still being used in our products. While I know I can’t lock myself into a bionic bubble, I figure I can do a few simple things to make my home less toxic. Having already made my own homemade cleaning supplies and swapping out my harsher body products for more natural options, I decided to try my hand at making one of my favorite little pleasures: candles!
Most candles are composed of paraffin wax, which is made through by a distillation process of petroleum. Burning that in your home is kind of like burning diesel fuel. It emits measurable amounts of toxins in your home, transforming its air quality to that of Los Angeles on a smoggy day! Yuck! Paraffin burned in candles is a carcinogenic neuro-toxin. The American Lung Association and the EPA issue warnings about its safety–especially around pregnant mamas and kiddos….
But you don’t have to give up candles in your home! In fact, there’s an alternative wax that is actually known to help improve the air quality in your home: Beeswax! The benefits to beeswax candles are manifold. I’ll name a few:
- No soot—since these candles don’t smoke, they don’t leave that sooty mess on the candleholder, your walls, or your lungs!
- Pretty Scent—they emit a sweet smell of honey!
- Air Purifying—they release negative ions into the air, cleansing the air of dust, pollutants, and other nasty things.
- Easy to make—I whip them up in my kitchen. With a few ingredients and a couple tools on hand, it’s a cinch!
Are you ready to try making some of your own? Follow these simple step-by-step instructions! For you visual learners, I’ll include some pictures!
- Beeswax (Michaels Craft Store or (www.candlescience.com) 1lb of wax will fill one large one small mason jar
- Double boiler (two pans—one big, one small/ a real double boiler/a handled melting pot/coffee can, ect. Use whatever you have on hand)
- Cooking or candy thermometer
- Mason jars, cute bowls, votives, tea light cups, ect.
- Pre-tabbed wicks (lead-free please) or spooled wax and tabs
- Pencils, skewers, or paper clips
- Newspaper to protect your work surface
- Optional: Some adhesive for wicks. If you don’t have these, have a sense of humor!
1. Spread some newspaper over your workspace and gather all your materials.
2. Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. Fill smaller pot with beeswax and place it in the water.
3. While the wax is melting, you can start to wick your candles. Eye the length of the jar, and then add a few inches, cutting the wick to that length. If it isn’t pre-tabbed, insert the wick into the tabs. Tie the top around a pencil or skewer. Make sure the wick touches the bottom of the jar, wick taut. Place the pencil or skewer across the mouth of the jar to hold it in place. If you’re using pre-tabbed wicks, you can lean the wick on the pencil to keep it straight.
5. Time to pour! Do just a little in each jar to set your wicks, wait a moment, then fill ‘em up! Go slowly, and handle that hot pot with care. Leave a little room at the top of your candle. Reserve some wax in the pot for step 8.
7. Once your candles have dried on the top, (about 30 minutes) use a toothpick to prick little holes all around the wick. Add a little more wax into the candle (re-melt what you reserved), just filling the little holes. This will keep the wax from forming air pockets, which can create an ugly well in your candle once it sets. You can repeat this process a couple times if you want to.
8. Allow them to set for 24 hours, and then trim the wicks to ¼ inch.
Doing these candles in jars or bowls makes it super simple! If you want to get more ambitious, you can purchase molds for pillars, votives, and tapers! Remember that when you start doing molded candles, the wick size has to be just right so that your candles burn evenly. You can get information here for how to wick and for product selection.