Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Handmade Christmas presents - candles!

Nothing says Christmas like lighting a candle and filling your house with light and fragrance. I like making tea lights this time of year -- you could make one large candle, but why not make a whack of them in various scents and colours and change them every day?

Here are my instructions for making colourful, smelly tea light candles that should burn up to 6 hours each!

SUPPLIES (you can get these at Michael's or Voyageur. And your scents are available from any of the links to the side...)
Tealight cups - metal or plastic
Pre-tabbed wicks (pre-tabbed tea light wicks are the best choice...)
Wax (I prefer 1242 wax because you can pull the candles out of the tea light containers if you want)
Fragrance (oil soluble with a decent flashpoint -- ask the retailer if you can use that fragrance for candles)
A melting pot for wax, a pot for water (to double boil the wax), something hot like a stove or hot plate

We will be using about 15 grams of melted wax per tea light and scenting at 8 to 10%, or 1 to 1.5 ml fragrance oil.


1. Melt your wax in a double boiler on the stove or hot plate. Make sure you are melting your wax in a heat proof container like a pyrex or metal jug. (I cracked one of mine because I didn't check whether it was heat proof or not!) You will want to use about 1.5 kg of wax for 100 tea lights. You can use an electric frying pan filled with water here. You will want to fill a few smaller containers with wax if you do this. If you want to re-melt your wax (see below), an electric frying pan is a great way to do it without burning yourself.

2. In another heat proof container, shave off some of the colour from the colour wax block. You won't need much as some of the colours will do up to 10 pounds of wax, so a shaving will most likely be enough!

3. Get out as many tea light cups as you would like to make with this colour of wax. It is approximately 2 tablespoons per tea light, but go a little over. We will wick them later, don't worry!

4. Get your scent ready. We want about 1 ml of scent per tea light. (1/5 of a teaspoon.)

5. When your wax has melted, pour your chosen amount into your second container with the colour. (Remember, it's a little less than 2 tablespoons per tea light, but we will want a little extra.) Stir it well with a wooden stir stick or spoon until the colour has melted completely into the wax (the spoon will get messy, so a disposable stir stick is a better choice.) To check the colour, drop a little on a white piece of paper. This is what it will look like in your candle. If you like it, get ready to add the scent. If you want the colour to be stronger, then add another shaving of the colour wax block. If you want it to be lighter, then add a little more wax to this container.

6. Adding scent is a fine art, to be honest. The wax is hot so some of the scent will burn off. You can use up to 2 ml of scent per candle, but this is going to be strong, so I recommend starting with 1 ml of candle scent and increasing it once you've burned it to see if you like it that way! (1 ml will offer a nice, light scent you can smell when you come into a room. At 2 ml, you'll really notice it when it's not burning!) Pour the scent into your second container and stir. It is going to cool the wax down a little bit, so if you notice the wax is setting too quickly, very carefully hold your container in the double boiler for a few seconds and stir it. It will melt again nicely. (If you leave it too long, the scent will burn off, so make sure you don't leave it longer than necessary.)

7. Pour your wax into your tea light. Wait until it goes a bit cloudy - between 1 and 5 minutes -- then press the wick into the middle of the candle and hold it for a second or two. It will eventually stick to the bottom. Try to keep the wick centered, because an uncentered wick can burn unevenly. It's not the end of the world, but you will notice that the candle won't burn as nicely.

8. OPTIONAL: As the wax cools, a pit will form in the centre of the tea light. This isn't a big deal and will not affect the burning of the candle. But if you save a little of your coloured and scented wax, you can pour a little on top to fill in the dent. You can also use a heat gun (it's easier to do it this way...if you own a heat gun!)

9. OPTIONAL: You can layer your candles with different colours. After adding your wick, wait a few minutes. Then pour a different colour and/or scent on top of the cooling wax. That's it. Pretty easy, eh?

10. You're done. Rejoice. Wait at least 24 hours to let the candle cool completely before you light it. (The paraffin molecules have their own odour -- by waiting up to 1 week, you're letting them set and smell only the candle!) And trim the wick to about 1/4 inch or 6 mm as you don't want a huge wick on your tea lights.

As a note, these instructions are good for beeswax and soy wax candles, but you will need to get a different kind of wick.


Cupcake candles! Yep, I'm obsessed with cupcakes, but these are too freakin' sweet not to make for gift giving fun!

Beeswax tea lights - very nice, but you don't add fragrance to these ones. Enjoy the scent of the natural beeswax! (You'll need different wicks -- the RRD34. See link below.)

SOY CANDLES: If you want to make soy tea lights, you'll need to get different wicks and different wax. Obviously you'll need soy wax instead of paraffin wax, and you'll need to get the RRD34 wicks because these burn hotter.

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