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Candle Making

A popular interest for beekeepers

There are many techniques for making candles. It is common for beekeepers to have a surplus of beeswax, (I make my own foundation and still have enough wax left to make a few candles). The excess wax can be put to good use either as candles for your own enjoyment or for sale as a sideline.

Dipping is one of the oldest methods, where a plaited wick is first dipped in some molten wax, then pulled straight as the wax solidifies. This straight and still wick is then repeatedly dipped into a deep container of molten wax. In some cases, this container has an amount of molten wax floating on a column of warm water. This technique produces a candle that has a tapered shape.

Rolled foundation candles are a more modern method, where wax foundation sheets with a hexagonal pattern embossed on them can be formed into candles quite easily, by rolling the sheet around a wick. It is helpful if the wick is first dipped in wax and straightened, though warmth is required to ensure full pliability in the wax. I have a tip that may help others to achieve a consistent tension when rolling... Home brewers use heating plates that are placed underneath demijohns of fermenting wine, these heating pads are ideal as a platform on which to roll the wax and a warm room is helpful as well. Specially dyed wax sheets, in various colours, are available from beekeeping equipment suppliers. These are specifically intended for use in candle making and can be used to make coloured candles, or can be cut to work in a contrasting way with uncoloured beeswax foundation sheets.

Moulding, where there are many types of candle mould available made from from glass, aluminium and silicon rubber, the latter capable of rendering fine detail.

Someone on an Email list once said......"also, my candles usually crack on top or leave holes in the middle no matter how slowly I cool them. What can be done about this?" This is due to the molten wax being at too high a temperature, it must be just above the melting point and no more. You can achieve this by ensuring a constant slow feed of small chunks of wax into the melting pot, so that it always contains liquid wax with melting chunks in it.

Floating candles, where I have had considerable success with simple moulds made from stainless steel sundae dishes.

Moulded decorations can be made using small tinplate moulds that are sold for making chocolate decorations for dressing up fancy cakes. But if used with beeswax, sometimes dyed in a contrasting colour they can be added to plain cylindrical candles that have been moulded or produced by rolling.

Painting minor details can be easily and quickly done on moulded candles that have small details like the eye of a rabbit or a scarf around the neck of an owl, these details can be picked out using enamel paints and a small artists brush. This increases the impact far more than the small amount of work involved would suggest.

Twisted strap is a style of candle making with which I am not acquainted, but basically candles are made by laminating thick strips of wax, sometimes of different colours, the central strip being in two halves that are on either side of the wick. The resulting candle can be warmed and twisted to show spiral patterning.

Packaging of finished candles is something that adds value, as well as protecting the surface of the candle itself. Transparent plastic sheeting or film can be used to form boxes or bags, which can be held together with adhesive labels. The labels themselves can impart safety information or product identification information.

Dave Cushman.

Page created pre-2011

Page updated 30/12/2022