Methods of making beeswax candles
In this article I want to introduce the main types or categories of beeswax candles as per how they are made. We have four main ways to make these candles. We have rolled, jar or container candles, moulded candles and dipped candles and I will introduce each method in this article.
The beauty of beeswax
Before we go on to look at the four main ways to make candles I want to remind you how just how wonderful beeswax is. Beeswax is a natural wax produced bees. Bees source their food from the nectar and pollen from flowers. They then use this energy from their food to secrete small wax flakes from wax producing glands in their bodies. They manipulate these small wax flakes with their jaws to build honeycomb. Therefore beeswax is directly linked to our environment. When you burn beeswax you get this wonderful honey smell and beeswax candles give a beautiful natural orange glow. Beeswax candles are also said to purify the air. In summary what I am saying is that beeswax candles are special!
This is the first method of making beeswax candles that I want to look at. Making rolled beeswax candles is really simple. This is a great activity to do with your kids. That is because you buy beeswax sheets embossed with hexagonal cells. These sheets are used by beekeepers and are readily available from bee equipment suppliers. You then roll the sheet around an appropriate sized wick to make a candle. Typically the type of wick used for beeswax candles is square braided cotton wick. These wicks come in different sizes depending on the diameter of the finished candle you are making. The reason rolling candles is a great activity for kids is because you don’t have to melt beeswax and therefore there is no risk of any burns from hot wax.
Container or Jar Candles
With this type of candle you prepare an appropriate type of container into which you insert a wick and pour in your melted beeswax. Typical containers are small open mouthed mason or canning type jars which are heat proof. Generally we are using jars with a mouth less than 7.62 cm (3″) in diameter. For these candles we generally use a special type of wick called cored wick. Cored wicks come with a small metal tab and the wick core will help the wick to remain erect as they burn. The candle is burned in the container so the container must be heat proof.
To make this type of candle you purchase or improvise your own candle moulds. You thread a wick through the centre of the mould and pour in your hot wax. When the wax is solid you remove the candle from the mould (unlike container candles where you essentially burn the candles in the mould). The easiest moulds to use are rubber type moulds make from polyurethane, silicone or latex. I prefer silicone as it is easy to remove the candle form the mould. You can also buy metal and glass moulds. You can also improvise your own moulds. For example in Kenya we used to teach people to make candles using plastic pipes as moulds. This works well as long as you use a releasing agent like diluted honey to make sure the candle comes away from the mould. Moulded candles are fun because you can have endless shapes depending on what moulds you use.
With dipped candles you are taking an appropriate sized square braided cotton wick and repeatedly dipping the wick(s) in molten beeswax. The beeswax is in a tall pot. Each time you dip a wick into the hot wax and remove it you allow the wax to cool before re-dipping. After about 20-25 dips you will have a long taper candle! These candles – hand dipped taper beeswax candles, are amazing. They look elegant and burn beautifully and anyone would love to have these on their dining table.
In this article I have introduced the four main ways to make beeswax candles. Each method and type of candle has it’s own charm and beauty. The wonderful thing is that you can get started straight away with rolled candles as these are really easy and you don’t even need any equipment to heat wax.
If you would like to learn more about beeswax candle making my course How to make and sell beeswax candles is launching on June 16th 2022