While helping my wife get things organized for her Girl Scout event, we began experimenting with ice candles as a fun little activity for the 60-odd girls that would be attending. Of course, the first thing we did was ask our daughter how she did it, because, well, she had done this before in a previous Girl Scout gathering. Her answer was, of course, "I don't remember", so we headed for the internet!
There is a wealth of information with regards to candle making online, and ice candles are no exception. We got the general idea from sites both informal (usually a 4-step process) and professional (25-40 steps, if you can believe it). The problem was, no matter how in-depth the site was on the process (they were all easy to understand and follow), no one site actually talked about the nuances and tweaks we found were necessary to make it work smoothly for what would be 60 girls in a two-hour time span.
Now, you can get as complicated or as simple as you wish. I made two candles last night. One was a single-pour ice candle, while the other involved a second pour with two colors of wax. The single pour model, which is what Kim will be teaching to the girls today, used a simple cardboard, half-pint milk carton as a form, while mine used a mold from our candle making supplies which can be cheaply purchased from any craft or hobby store.
Now, before we begin, I feel the need to mention that paraffin is a very flammable substance! Yes, it is easy to melt and to pour, but it does have a flash point (the point at which a substance will catch fire).
- Paraffin wax ignites at 199°C (390°F)
- Paraffin wax with additives ignites at higher temps, usually 249°C (480°F)
- This shouldn't be a problem, as paraffin begins to melt above 37 °C (99 °F)
Now, I used a commercially available melter designed specifically for candle making. Many home enthusiasts use a double-boiler, as it will allow you to melt on the stovetop without hitting those dangerous temperatures. It should also be noted that, as paraffin exceeds 127°C (261°F), it will begin to turn brown and smell bitter. What I'm getting at here is do not try to melt wax in a pan directly on your stovetop or other heat source unless it is specifically designed for melting wax!
One last note on safety: Paraffin, when ignited, acts like any other petroleum product as it burns. Do not pour water over it, as this will cause an explosion!!! Shut off the heat source and place a lid over the fire to smother it!
Okay! Enough boring stuff! Let's make some candles!