Dinner by Candlelight

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We were in the mood for mellow. There is nothing like a home-cooked meal on a table set with care and illuminated by candles. So at the latest little social gathering, I broke out the beeswax. Not for waxing our surfboards, but for making candles. Dipping beeswax taper candles is a really pleasant craft activity for a small group on a rainy night. The activity is simple, there’s the nice smell of beeswax in the house, and you get some nice candles out of the deal.

Gather your material
Blocks of beeswax or beeswax pellets can be found at your local beekeeper, apiary, or craft store. The pellets melt faster. If you have nubs from other beeswax candles, you can use those too. You'll need a wick around 18 inches long, depending on the height of your candles. Most wicks are lead-free, but be sure to ask. You will need a coffee can to melt the wax in, the narrower and the higher the better. An aluminum coffee pot co-opted from old camping gear works great. Set up a place to hang the candles to dry. A broomstick set across two chairs to hang the candles and newspaper on the floor underneath to catch the drips is ideal.

Time and Place
Place the wax in the tin can and place that inside a pot of simmering water. Do not put the can directly on the stove or use a microwave—beeswax is flammable after all. It may take up to an hour to gently melt the wax to its liquid state. Knot the end of the wicks or tie a small washer to them. The end of the wick needs to have some gravity to sink it into the melted wax.

Process
Gather your friends around the cauldron of beeswax. Holding the middle of the wick, dip the two ends into the wax, dunking a few times. Take it out and let the wax cool and harden, then repeat the process. Take your time and move slowly. Each dipping session will add layers of wax. When your candle has reached a desired thickness, drape the candle pair over the broom or wooden stick to cool. When the candles are hard, trim the wick. Alternately, there are many interesting molds for poured wax candles, but they will need about 24 hours to set. The smell of beeswax is very pleasant, but if you can also add a few drops of any essential oil to the melted wax.

Kids & Candles
Children should be closely supervised in this activity. You are the best judge if hot wax candles are an appropriate activity for your kids. If not, you may also purchase beeswax in honeycomb sheets (it comes in various colors) that is easy to roll around a wick to make candles. Warm hands and a tight roll are the trick to honeycomb candles.

The candle dipping was a lot of fun and added to the already lively evening of sipping and chip dipping. Although we were pleased with the outcome, some tapers did come out a little lopsided and we commented on how nice our kids’ candles came out when they brought them home from field trips Back in the Days of Yore. The activity also stirred discussion on how this novel craft once fell to women as an essential chore in the workload of pre-electricity life.

Heidi Lewis writes about farms, bees, and fruit from her home in Sonoma County, CA. She's been with The FruitGuys since they were FruitKids.

 

Comments (3)

  • anon

    Hi Carole,

    Thanks for your comment! Heidi says:

    Any pot will do, really. Aluminum just heats quickly. The main thing is - you want to put the beeswax in a disposable container (like a coffee can) and that in a pot of water. This way, the coffee can is not directly on the heat. Use something disposable because the beeswax is sticky.

    Karla
    The FruitGuys

    Mar 15, 2011
  • anon

    Hi,

    Just a comment – I typically buy soy candles these days. They burn clean from what I have read. I am trying to do anything I can to help take the stress off of bees. Their populations are dwindling as you know, so if there are alternative products I am going that route.

    Tamara

    Mar 15, 2011
  • anon
    Karla Milosevich

    Hello Tamara, here is a response from the writer, Heidi.

    Thank you so much for your care and concern for the bees. Here too at
    The FruitGuys, we are doing our best to help the bees by sponsoring
    hives and covering bee news in our newsletter.

    I know people who use soy wax, but I have no personal experience with
    it, so I did not include in the article for KitchenLife.

    What I can tell you about beeswax is that it is a renewable resource.
    It burns 25% longer than paraffin. Also, beeswax releases negative
    ions into the air, although I don't know how those benefits compare to
    soy wax.

    In regards to stressing the bees, you might be relieved to know that
    the beeswax for candles is extra wax. It is the "capping wax" that the
    beekeepers remove for honey, which doesn't destroy the honeycomb.

    Again I thank you for your good thoughts for the bees, the bees need
    all our help! If you are in Sonoma County, you might be interested in
    the Bee Symposium on March 19, details at www.beekind.com.

    Thanks,
    Heidi Lewis

    Mar 15, 2011

 

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