Thursday, December 21, 2017

Tutorial: Hand dipped candles

So, this is what I was up to last night. I had some candle wax, wicks, and color/fragrance left over from making dip candles years ago, and Christmas is coming. I figured I could make a batch of dip candles to hand out to friends at the party Christmas afternoon/evening. I learned how to do this as a child, watching folks at the Miller-Cory House in New Jersey make them. That is a restored colonial era farm house, where my parents volunteered on the weekends. I had my own little costume and ran around the grounds, wide eyed and just soaking everything in. I remember seeing candles like this hanging in the gift shop for sale.

Now, I'm using paraffin rather than bees wax or bayberry, and raided my husband's work shop for nuts/washers for weights, but the idea of a gradual build up of wax over repeated dips is the same. Here's what I did:

paraffin wax (No, I didn't measure, I eyeballed it)
candle wicking
added color and scent if you want it. Refer to the box for amounts
(I found supplies at Michaels. Check your local craft store.)

a container to hold melted wax
a pot of water
a wide stick to hang the wicks over (I used slats from blinds)
chairs or something to support the sticks
scissors to cut the wick
hammer & chisel or screwdriver to break the wax into chunks for melting
disposable chopstick or something of the sort to poke at the melting wax if you are impatient
candy thermometer
So, put your melting pot in a pot of water, add chunks of wax, and heat things up. Keep your water warm, but not making bubbles. You are looking for a temperature of about 150F for the wax. You can check that with your candy thermometer. The melting will take awhile.
While the wax is melting, prepare your wicks. Figure out how long you want your candles to be, keeping in mind that you are limited by the height of your dipping pot. Double that number, and then add maybe 5 inches more, so you have enough to tie weights on each end, and still have enough connecting string to hang over your cooling rack. I used nuts this time for weights on the end, since they have a hole to tie through. Also, once the wax melts, you can add color/scent if you want to, using the directions on whatever product you have.
Ok, when you have liquid wax, go ahead and start dipping. Hold your wick by the center point, and dip straight down and back out. Don't dawdle in the melted wax, or the heat will melt previous layers of wax. Hang your proto-candles over your cooling rack. Don't worry too much about how straight the wicks are for this first phase. I had a dozen pairs of candles going, so I just rotated through them and had no issue with them being too hot by the time I got back to the beginning ones. But, some folks recommend having a tall bucket of cold water to dip the candles into as you work, to cool them faster.

Once you have several layers of wax on, you can straighten out your candles as you need to. Keep on dipping. This process took me several hours. As the amount of wax in your dipping pot goes down, occasionally add more chunks of the unmelted wax, and let them melt down before continuing. I also added more color as I went along, so the outside of the candles would be gradually more colored than the insides.
When your candles are as thick as you want them to be, take a scissors or knife and cut the weights off of the bottom of your candles. Dip your candles a few more times, just to smooth out the cut edges. Then, hang your candles to cool thoroughly. I hung mine on my back porch overnight while I slept, and they were fine in the morning.

I did find it was easier to get the weights out of their wax coating while the wax was still pliable.

And voila! Candles!

No comments:

Post a Comment