Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cooking Up Ambience

Candles are a great ingredient for adding ambience, and I started to make my own when a friend said that he hated to throw away 'spent' candles so he began consolidating leftover wax to make new ones.

I agreed with his sentiment and plowed in. I probably won't try tapers - and still buy an occasional candle because I like the scent or size (for instance, I can only get pinon-scented candles in New Mexico) - but most of the candles I burn now are handmade. And the process is surprisingly easy.
Homemade Candles
Materials & equipment

1 cup leftover wax of similar scent and/or color

double boiler (VOE - try a small stainless steel bowl nested in a saucepan)

lead-free wicks with a small metal base, available in multiple sizes at many craft stores

candle 'molds' (VOE - use small containers such as empty food jars/candle holders, or empty/rinsed/small, dried cream cartons; miniature muffin pans work for short votives or shot glasses for tall)


If using a wick longer than 3-4 inches, wrap top of wick securely where two skewers form an 'x' when laid across the top of your container and cut off any excess; this will help stabilize the wick.

Fill saucepan with an inch of water. Place bowl in pan and fill with wax. Melt wax over high heat until it becomes liquid. As liquid emerges, use a spoon to pour a small amount into your container and secure the wick base. You may continue to add wax throughout the liquifying process or wait until completely liquified. If any wick pieces remain in the liquid from your old candles, remove with tongs.

Once you have filled the container, allow the candle to cool/harden, approximately 2-3 hours. Cut off excess wick (your wick should always be trimmed to 1/4-inch before lighting) and enjoy.

VOE - To retrieve spent wax, place your candle container in the freezer for several hours until you can crack the wax with a knife, and then remove it. Save wax until you have enough for your desired candle size.

VOE -To remove candle from muffin pan or shot glass, loosen slightly with sharp knife and then pull out by wick. To remove from dairy carton, peel off carton after candle is totally cool.

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