Introduction: Candles - a How to Guide
I sometimes find that I have too much free time on my hands. I came across a store (while visiting some clients during work) that sold candle wax (and some basic material on candle making) and I thought "Why not?"
I was tempted (and also strongly recommended to buy the whole shebag of candle making stuff), but I thought to myself "Do I really need everything this guy is trying to sell me? Why don't I just buy the stuff I cant make myself, and then figure out the rest myself. I've seen roughly how they do it! I'm a guy! I don't need to read books on candle making! I'll just go make some candles now!"
Yeah, so if you're like me, you'll probably end up spending 2 weeks or so testing materials and stuff. Let me help you out with what I've found out.
1. Don't bother buying expensive candle molds (IMO).
These are expensive, and hard to get the candle out. Because of their price, you might end up only being able to buy 2 - 3 of them. If you're like me, and you want to make a LOT of candles at one go, this might be a problem. You will also have to keep your wax heated (or keep reheating it).
2. Don't bother buying candle mold release / silicone sprays (IMO).
Again, expensive, you don't really know whats in them (in terms of gas besides the silicone) and you have to go buy more when you run out.
In this 'ble I'll be focusing more on how I used paper cups as molds instead of the exact science of making candles (be warned!).
Note: There will be fire and sharp objects, so please be careful. Don't hurt yourself or others. Safety first!
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Step 1: Stuff You'll Need
I'll be making my candles with the basic candle making materials you may already know of. The only difference is that I'll be using paper cups (mine are shot glass sized, you can scale up as much as you want).
1. Candle wax
2. Candle coloring or wax coloring (some people use crayons, you can use them if you have any) and scent (if you want some)
3. Paper cups - you can buy big cups or small ones, I went with shot glass sized cups. Note: you should get the ones with some wax on the inside (almost all the paper cups I've seen have this anyway)
4. Candle wick (or some cotton twine - thick if you want a thicker / wider flame but not too thick!)
5. Cheap big bag of bamboo skewers
6. A nail or something to punch a small hole under the paper cups (or a small awl - I found one lying around so I used this)
7. A throw away pot (or two if you're going the double-boiler way)
8. A stove of some sort (duh!)
9. Some sort of cutting object like a knife or a blade
Step 2: Prep Your Paper Cup Molds (or Moulds?)
Step 3: Dip, Hang or Tie? Wick!
No photos for this session (I forgot!) - but you will see more when the end results roll by.
Traditionally, you're supposed to 'dip' the wick into some wax and pull it out (so its straight) and then dip and hang the pre-waxed wick into your mold of candle wax. I've tried this once or twice, but I did not like the way the wick turned out. I wanted a way to make sure that the wick went right through the candle and was nicely centered. My first few tries with the hanging method gave me an uneven wick in the middle of the finished candle.
So here's what I did. Tie the wick at the bamboo skewer (middle or as middle as you can of the cup) and then use your awl to thread the wick out of the bottom of the paper cup (in the hole you've punched earlier).
Put a little tension in the wick, and then tie a knot off just at the bottom of the cup (on the outside of the cup), then cut the wick off. You should now have a very straight wick, and the knot on the outside of the cup (at the bottom) will come in handy in the next step.
Since you've punched a hole at the bottom of the cup, you might end up with spilled wax when you pour your wax in. I then sealed this hole (from the outside - bottom part of the cup) using another candle (normal candle) wax. Drip the candle wax as much as you want over the wick knot but make sure to seal that bottom hole up.
Step 4: Melty!
Pretty straight forward, melt your wax. Some instructions have other additives you need to put into your wax (during melting) so just follow your recipe. If you have any colour or scent, add them in at the very end of the session.
I am double boiling this, even if my pan is pretty high and I was paying attention to it very closely. Wax + fire = not your friend!
Also take note that you MUST use a pan you're ready to throw away or allocate 100% to wax melting. You don't want to be cooking out of this.
Side note: Wives, girlfriends and mom's are never happy to loose a pan, so make sure its an old pan or something super cheap you've purchased on your own (without them knowing!).
When it came time to pour, I used another paper cup (a bigger cup) that I cut a little off the lip to act as a spout. My paper cup candle molds were small shot glass sized cups, and I had a lot of them, so I didn't want to make a mess.
Step 5: Pour, Wait, Cut, Finish!
So now you wait.
I suggest that you do this in a cool airy area of your house. And also free of bugs, kids, animals, or wives / girlfriends / mom's.
I also suggest that because the bottom of the paper cups take a while to cool off, you can raise the entire row by placing the 1st and last cup in another paper cup. This makes the whole row rise off the ground and helps with cooling.
When the candles are solid, just score with a knife or blade down the paper cup (I did it in 3 places) and the paper cup will come off the candle (or the candle will come off the paper cup, you pick which one is best).
Be careful, as your candles are still tied via the wick to the bamboo skewer. Just use the same blade, and slice off the bottom knot (at the bottom of the paper cup and also just cut the wick tied to the bamboo skewer.
Step 6: Enjoy Your Candles!
All in all, it took me about 2 - 3 hours to prep and get the wax ready (I stopped for some music and TV!).
What I'd recommend is to buy a bunch of paper cups and then punch the holes in them at one go, then do the wick etc at another time. What you'll be left with will be candle molds ready to go. Then pick a weekend and melt the wax, pour and you're all set.
1. Don't use any food colouring because it is water based, and will not really work for candles
2. Don't use any water based scents (or mom's par-fume - alcohol) because that will burn off
3. Any water based or chemicals you are not sure of in the candle making process because you are going to burn these babies, and you don't want weird chemicals in the air. Some water based / chemicals also make the candle splutter or cause small mini-explosions (unless you WANT this, then uh, well go ahead).