Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How to Make a Candle: Creating That Warm Glow From Scratch

How to Make a Candle: Creating That Warm Glow From Scratch
By Jason Kinech

I love having candles around the house. Not only are they great for power outages (which is virtually all the unscented ones are used for), but they also create a relaxing and peaceful energy in a room. There is only one problem: they can be pricey. Now I know that every grocery store or convenience shop has them on the cheap, but this is a case where you get what you pay for. How?

The cheap candles tend to be grainy, burn unevenly, and have a very artificial smell to them. None of this is relaxing. Of course, one solution is to simply buy the more expensive, possibly name brand candles, but where's the fun in that? Instead, spend that some amount of money in a few cheap supplies and you can make dozens of candles for yourself. Plus, you can make completely personal and unique candles that aren't available anywhere else. Pretty fun, right?

Obviously, you're going to need to buy a few supplies. However, these supplies will cost as much as (or possibly less than) one of the brand name jar candles. In fact, this simple shopping trip will allow you to make more than enough candles for yourself. Here is your shopping list:

1 candle pitcher
1 block of soy wax (container)
as many jars as you'd like
Pre set wicks (long enough for the height of the jar)
Candle dyes
Candle scents

While all of this might cost $50 or so upfront, there are two things to keep in mind. Firstly, the candle pitcher is optional; you don't have to buy one (it just makes things a little easier). Secondly, the dyes and scents will lost an extremely long time, and you can actually make your own if you want to go really on the cheap. For the sake of simplicity though, I'm going to assume that you purchased everything. Not only will this make this guide easier to follow, but it won't change if you do make your own scents or dyes.

The first thing that you need to need is make sure that your candle jars don't need to be preheated. Most don't that are made for this, but if you aren't sure just put them into your oven and set it to warm. One you're clear on your containers you're ready to start melting wax.

This is pretty simple. Just put a few cups of water into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, then add your candle pitcher. If you opted to pass on the candle pitcher, just make a double boiler with another pan. I won't judge; don't worry (I have way too many pans, so this was my way to go for a long time). Add some wax to the pitcher/double boiler and grab a candy thermometer.

Alright, I admit it. I forgot to tell you that you'd need a candy thermometer. But it's such a little thing, and no one ever thinks of it being involved with candles! Besides, chances are good that your grandmother has 1 (or 7) anyway, so you shouldn't have to buy one. If you do, they're only a few bucks.

So now that you have a candy thermometer, just clip it onto your pitcher or double boiler so that the metal tip is in the liquid wax. It is really important that you keep an eye on your wax temperature while it is on the heat! Why? Nothing ruins a candle like a large kitchen fire. It may be funny in the movies, but they're a real day ruiner in reality. To avoid dealing with a massive wax fire, watch your wax the entire time it is on the heat!

When your wax reaches the proper temperature (around 160 to 180 degrees, read your wax packaging to be sure) it's time to add the color and scent. We'll go with the color first. This is where the personalization really begins: you can make it any color that you want to! Don't just say pink either; take a page from the big companies' book. Instead of pink, your candle is 'summer love'. It's not green, it's 'spring oak leaf'. The more ridiculous the color, the more impressive it sounds to friends and family. Refuse to tell them how you 'mixed it', it will add to the mystery of your newfound skills.

After the color has been added and mixed the scent is next to go in. While it is much easier to just buy scents (as I assumed you did for this guide), once you are a little more comfortable with the process it's worth it to make your own scents. Don't worry; it's very easy, but for right now just add your store-bought scent. Very important: as soon as the scent is mixed into the wax, pour the candle. Why?

If you leave the scented wax on the heat to long it can burn the fragrance, which results in a very artificial and cooked smell. Not magical, not relaxing, and not something you can show off to friends and family. So just add the scent and stir a few times to incorporate, then pour the wax into your container.

While the wax is still hot, carefully lower your pinned wick to the bottom. If you don't like doing it this way, dip the pin in hot wax and immediately stick to the bottom of your container before pouring the wax. Though it can come up, this method is slightly easier.

Now that your new, unique, and personal candle is poured; you are at the worst part (for most anyway): the waiting. There is really no way to speed this up without negatively affecting the candle, so just be patient. If at all possible, let them cool overnight to ensure that there are no warm pockets or soft spots, as this can create awkward setting and uneven burning if it is lit too soon.

So now your candle is finally cooled off, ready to go, and waiting. Light that thing! Enjoy the fragrance it gives up, and give yourself a firm pat on the back. You've earned it!

If you need more simple steps for candle making just check out our free guide on candle making, and remember to have fun.

No comments: