With the holiday season fast approaching, I’m brainstorming ways to do things in a greener way. Last year I bought candles and I wasn’t really happy with them. For starters, they were expensive, used chemical dyes, synthetic perfumes, and the wicks burned out and left half the candle behind. I’ve made candles before and it’s not difficult. I think I’m going to dust off my candle making skills this year.
Candle making is an Old World tradition, but today organic beeswax is hard to come by. To be certified organic, the bees that it is harvested from must only be allowed to feed on certified organic botanicals.
Why beeswax and not soy, parafin, or vegetable oil? Soy and vegetable are fine, but I find them kind of sterile with no therapeutic properties. They have no smell.
Parafin is from a plant but has petroleum and doesn’t burn clean — it actually dirties the environment. Unbleached beeswax produces negative ions which cleans the air and removes odors while it burns. No other wax does that.
A typical scented candle does not benefit the household as much as beeswax candles. Scented candles have synthetic perfumes that add to indoor pollution. This is why a person can have an allergic reaction to a lavender-scented candle but not have the same reaction to a beeswax candle made with lavender essential oil.
If you like the colors that many candles have nowadays, it’s easy to replicate that look without synthetic dyes.
You just need to find a spice with a color you like. You can use tumeric for instance. Add it to the melted wax while it’s still liquified in the double boiler.
The spice will sink to the bottom and wax will take on the color of the spice. Pour your candles into the molds and you’ll see the spice has sunk to the bottom of the boiler.
Before making beeswax candles, prepare by getting all of your supplies together and setting up a spot to work.
To create these candles you will need: beeswax, scissors or a knife, candle wicks, toothpicks, a cake thermometer, a cutting board or some type of hard surface for cutting.
In the video below, Aromahead founder Andrea Butje shows you how to make beeswax candles with essential oils–
When purchasing the supplies, verify that the wicks do not contain any lead or other chemicals.
To protect the counter you’ll be working on, cover it in several layers of newspaper or brown paper bags. Wear an apron or old shirt to protect your clothes, and it won’t hurt to spread some newspaper on the floor as well. You’ll be traveling between the stove and your counter.
1. Heat water in a double boiler. The beeswax goes into the top boiler with the thermometer and will melt between 140-150 degrees.
2. If you want your candles to be a particular color, find a herb the color you want. Chili powder will make your candle pink, tumeric will make a sunset-colored candle. Add a scoop of the dried spice to the melted wax in the double boiler. Stir with the thermometer and let the spice settle to the bottom.
3. Prepare your molds — I usually make pillars but you may want votives. Spay the inside of the molds with olive oil cooking spray. Thread your mold from the bottom hole. Leave at least an inch of wick at the bottom and top. Plug the bottom hole with mold sealant. This will keep the hot wax from coming out.
4. If you want to add essential oils, now is the time. A good holiday blend would be 16 drops cedarwood, 12 eucalyptus, and 10 drops sage. Drip the oils into the melting wax and stir.
5. Pour your wax into the molds. Use 2 toothpicks laid on top of the mold with the wick in the middle to hold the wick in place. Don’t walk away because the wicks will move on you even with the toothpicks holding them in place.
6. Once the candle has hardened, you should be able to pop them right out of the mold. Just remember to remove the sealing wax from the bottom first.
If any beeswax gets in your hair, you can remove it by rubbing olive oil into your hair. If you get it on your clothes, cover the spot with a paper towel and iron the spot. Make sure you trim your wicks before lighting them.
You can learn how to make beeswax candles and other products that contain essential oils by signing up for a course at Aromahead.