If the idea of being more self-sufficient is appealing, you obviously enjoy making your own products. This is the approach of many beekeepers and crafters who use beeswax for candling making. The best news is that you can learn how to make your own hand dipped beeswax candles without a lot of expensive equipment.
Candle Dipping with Raw Beeswax
Not only is this a fun crafty thing to do, beeswax candles are great to use at home or give as gift. A handmade item share the gift of the object but also your time and thoughtfulness – that’s a precious thing.
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Handmade Candles are a Traditional Skill
Beeswax is a natural wax produced by honey bees. Worker bees consume honey and extrude wax from special glands on their body. The wax is used to create the combs for their honey. This work requires a lot of effort by the colony.
While we often associate hand dipped candles with “the good old days”, most pioneers would not be using them for every day. These bright, clean burning candles would be used for special occasions. Beeswax candles are special.
Dipping candles made with beeswax is a fun and educational activity. Once you have finished the project, you will have a better understanding of the time required to keep a homestead going.
And, this is only one way to make a beeswax candle– you may want to try them all! Each technique produces a different type!
Use Clean Beeswax for Candles
There are many options for getting wax for your project. Raw beeswax can be purchased from local beekeepers and of course you can always order wax online.
Commercial wax is clean and ready to use, raw beeswax may not be clean. If the wax is not clean, your candles will not burn well. If in doubt, clean your beeswax one more time.
How much beeswax do you need? Well, that depends on the size of your candle dipping vat.
Purchase or Make a Candle Dipping Vat
When making beeswax candles with molds, you only need the amount wax needed to fill the mold.
However, dipped beeswax candles require a larger supply of wax than other types. For your dipping vat, you can use any metal container.
Candle pouring pots (these can be used for years )are available for purchase and are well worth the cost. If buying a vat is not possible, a tall clean can will work (ex: a slim tall green bean can).
The larger dipping vat you choose – the more beeswax you will need. Try to select something that is tall and not very large in diameter.
Hand dipped candles require a vat of hot beeswax. Most of the wax can be used later for other types of wax projects. However, you must have a larger quantity initially for dipping.
Choose a Wick for Candle Dipping
There are many types of candle wicking available for purchase. The reliable standard for beeswax candles is square braided cotton wick. It is not very expensive, purchase a bit more than you think you will need.
Beeswax burns hotter than some other candle types. This means that a larger size wick is usually needed. For standard tapers – a size 2/0 cotton wick works well.
Other types and sizes of wicks may work but you have a higher chance of improper burning when using the wrong size.
Dipping Beeswax Candles Tutorial
- Melt beeswax safely: When melting beeswax for handmade dipped beeswax candles, it is always safest to use the double boiler method.This is a pot of water that has a smaller container holding wax inside. It is safer because it allows an even distribution of heat.Beeswax is flammable. Use proper safety techniques to avoid over heating the beeswax. Use pot holders when handling hot wax containers. Be safe.Keep in mind that the depth of the melting vat determines the length of candle you can make.In this project I am using a candle making pitcher sitting inside a pot of water.
- Prepare the wick: I like to use a regular 2/0 cotton braided wick for beeswax tapers. It is easiest to make two candles at a time. The wicks can be draped across a few fingers during dipping to keep the wicks apart. Or, you can use a popsicle/craft stick with 2 holes to hold the wicks apart.
- Attach weights to keep wick straight:A metal nut tied to the end of each wick will aid in keeping the wick straight as you make your candles. Don’t worry, you will cut these off later!
- A candy thermometer is your friend when making dipping candles. Over heating beeswax can cause it to darken.If the wax is not hot enough, your candles will be lumpy and bumpy. A thermometer helps you keep the wax in the proper temperature zone.Heat the beeswax in your dipping vat to 160° F. As wax accumulates on your wick, the level of wax in the vat will drop.It is good to have extra hot wax in another container. This will allows you to add warm wax to the dipping vat as needed.This small pot shown here is my very favorite wax pot for small projects. You need one or maybe even 2 – I have several. LOL
- Dipping: Once your wick is prepared and the wax is at the correct temperature, you are ready to proceed.Dip the wicks into the hot wax 3 times. A quick dip – remove, dip – remove, dip- remove. Then, set it aside to cool for a couple of minutes.Repeat the process until your candles are as thick as you want them to be. This takes time and patience.Unless you have special powers, your candles will not look completely smooth (as if they came out of a machine). They are handmade.
- Finishing the base:Once the candle dipping process is done, use scissors to cut off the base of each candle. The excess beeswax encasing the nut can be reused.For a smoother base, you may dip the candles once more after cutting off the excess wick/wax/nut.
- Take all precautions to avoid fire or burns – candle making is easy but you must respect the hot wax
Making hand dipped candles is an art. Do not fret if your candles do not look perfect. I am sure pioneer candle makers did not have perfect machine smooth tapers. The beauty of handmade products is the individuality of each one.
You can even make quick and simple DIY Beeswax Candles with a melt and pour process.
Enjoy the process of creating with beeswax and making a useful product for your home. Now that you have all this extra beeswax left over – try creating some other beeswax crafts such as Beeswax Wax Melts or maybe some beeswax lip Balm.