Friday, 11 July 2014

Refilling old candle holders with new home made candles!

I had a number of nice wee candles that had burnt down to the bottom of their containers. They were too nice to throw away and I decided that I might be able to refill them with some more wax that I had lying around and use them again. Jumping straight in as I am apt to do.... I learnt a bit about candle making the hard way!

Here's what I did...


 
First I gathered up all my old wax. I scooped the wax out of old candles by either melting it for popping the whole container in the freezer for 10 minutes or so - most of the wax just popped out of its container after that!

 
I bought a length of candle wick from my local handcraft store. This was 6 meters and cost me $4.

 
I used the double boiler method of melting all my wax together. I used an old tuna can as I was only planning on filling four small candles. Don't let any water boil over into your wax. It will make your candles go funny...

 
I gently stirred the wax as it melted.

 
I measured the depth of the candle holders and then doubled that to cut my wicks.
 
 
I prised a couple of wick holders off the bottom of some candle holders - the glue just peeled off - and then I forced the hole open with the tine of a fork and threaded the wick through and tied a knot. I used two threads from the wick but once I had made the candle and lit it, I wished I had left the wick whole with all the threads. I think it holds itself up better and burnt better.

 
To stick the wick holder where I wanted it, I dunked it in the hot wax a couple of times...

 
And then used a (fondue) fork to push it into place at the bottom of the container.

 
Then I wrapped the top of the wick around a pencil and held it in place with a peg. This is why you need the extra length. This is so the wick stays in the centre of the candle when you pour the wax in. 

 
When I went to pour the wax into my prepared candle holders, I discovered that it was going to be hard to pour from my tin can and so I had to squeeze the tin until I had made a spout. Would have been better to do this before I started and without hot wax in the container...!

 
There are a number of ways to clean up spilt wax...
But I prefer to be safe than sorry and to pour carefully and slowly and to put newspaper down, than to clean up wax spills!

 
As it turned out, all my odds and sods of wax melted together to make a lavender colour for me and were scented to boot! I think normal colour mixing rules will apply. Red and white wax will make pink candles. Yellow and red will make orange. And green, red and blue will make a cacky brown... (which may be ok in the right setting...)

 
Once I had poured my candles, I read some bits and pieces about if the wax wasn't hot enough it gathers around the wick and makes a bump in the middle of the candle. For me, that's not a biggie as these are just for me to play around with and enjoy. Once I had done a little research, I can recommend that you do it before you start to play rather than afterwards!

 
The next day I was surprised to see that each candle had a neat little hole in it!
It turns out to be a perfectly normal thing to happen and you have to do a second pour the next day when the candle is completely set. So make sure you save some wax for that! (See what I mean about read first, pour second!)

 
So with the scraps of wax I still had lying around, I melted it and tried to pour it neatly into  the holes... I'm not sure I succeeded!?!

 
Once the new wax had set (the next day) I then I cut the wicks to a centimetre or so and lit the wicks.
 
It all seemed to work fairly well to start with. As the candle melted down a centimetre or so, my wicks started falling over and putting the candle out. I think my wicks are too thin and unable to hold themselves once there was a full layer of melted  wax.
 
They have been fun to play with and it was a pleasant way to spend an hour or so in the backyard one afternoon but I think I'm a long way from making professional looking (and behaving) candles!
 
There seems to be quite a bit of info floating around on the web on how to make candles but for an afternoons project that sets you back $4 and an hour or so, you don't need to get over excited with equipment and an overload of information. After all, you can always remelt any candle you make that you aren't happy with!  
 
A few tips though - don't use crayons or food colouring to colour you candles. They are made from different materials and wont mix properly with the wax and make a nice colour or candle. The food colouring I tried is water based and simply wouldn't mix in with the wax last time I tried this. 
 
And due to the holes that will appear - its a two day project!

Once I had had a play and discovered some of the pit falls - I found these great instructions at Cajun Candles. Have a read before you start to play!

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 for reusing wax and containers that might otherwise end up in landfill! 
Frugal-ness: $4 for a number of afternoons fun has got to be a bargain!
Time cost: About and hour the first afternoon and maybe 15 minutes for the second pour the next day.
Skill level: quite easy, if you track down a few instructions first!
Fun-ness: I had a very pleasant afternoon playing with melted wax. Quite therapeutic indeed!

2 comments:

Marigold Jam said...

Maybe that's why decent candles cost so much?! Sounds fun though and you have learned something about candle making along the way.

Practical Frog said...

I suspect so Marigold Jam! Decent candles aren't cheap and when you try to do something that seems easy, you can see why they aren't cheap! But it was fun and I have a much deeper appreciation for people who do make nice candles!-Kx

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