Becoming a Candle Maker

Sometimes I have this overwhelming need to do something with my hands, to create something or fix something. When I finished off a tin of Harvey & Sons hot cinnamon sunset tea, the need kicked in and I wanted to try my hand at turning the empty tin into a candle that smelled like the tea.

This was my first time making candles. (edited to add I’m a forgetful idiot as my sister reminded me of a childhood trip to Williamsburg that involved carding wool and making dip candles – vacation or child labor?) What did I learn? Candle making has you take a candle without a wick (a.k.a. a block of wax), melt it, and insert a wick before it cools. If it weren’t for scenting and/or coloring it, you could probably drill a hole through the wax block for a wick and be done with it.

But I did want to scent it. Some extensive googling led me to infuse about a ½ cup of canola oil with ground cinnamon and ground tea (from another tin purchased just for this project) in a small glass bowl with lid. I let the bowl sit on a sunny windowsill for a couple of days while the oil turned tea color. I then strained it through an old nylon.

I spent too much money on a metal pitcher and glorified candy thermometer at Michael’s where I also picked up a huge block of wax and extra-large wicks. Honestly, you could use any old pot you don’t care about.

The melting set upOn candle making day, I tried to chop up my block of wax using a serrated knife before turning to a hammer and putty knife to chisel the thing into tiny little pieces. A third of the wax went Into the metal pitcher for my test candle. Into a pot of simmering water went the pitcher – look, I made a double boiler.

The type of wax you use and the type of candle you’re making determine what temperature to take the melted wax to. It also determines when you add scent and color. So when I hit that point for my candles, I poured in a couple tablespoons of the infused oil and then poured the oil into one of the tins.

Don't do this.While the wax was melting, I set up the tins. A couple of web sites recommended sticking the bottom of the wick to your container using melted wax. Not sure why I thought that would work when 175° liquid wax hit the solid wax. It didn’t. Nor did the cut-out paper plate work that well for holding the wick steady and centered.

Back into the pot went the wax and I ended up using double-sided tape to secure the wick bottom and using a wooden skewer to wrap the wick around. This time it worked. Wick stayed straight.

Do this. it works.The key here is to pour slowly and don’t fill the container. You’re going to want to let the wax set for an hour or so. The center of the candle will have a depression. Poke some holes in it near the wick and then top off the candle with some remaining wax.

After my test candle, I decided the wax didn’t have a strong enough smell so I added 3 tea bags to the wax when it was melting for the remaining candles. I also upped my oil to about 6 tablespoons. The scent seemed stronger for the melted wax, but since these 2 candles ended up being gifts, I’m not sure how they smelled when lit. The test candle doesn’t really have any scent when lit.

Ta da. They're done. Still a little depression in the center.

Some random tips: Because I was using a nonstandard container, I filled my tins with water to make sure wax wouldn’t run out any seams. And because the tins are metal, I make sure to set them on a coaster before lighting. So far, the sides haven’t been too hot to touch, but be careful (as you should with candles) if you have little ones.

Would I make candles again? Sure. I love drinking tea so making tea-scented candles in other tea tins sounds like a good idea to me. It’s pretty simple to do. And it fills my creative, hands-on need and makes me feel all accomplished at something.

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