I promise you that after this side note, I will get back to The Steps. Cross my heart and hope to die…
An essential part of the candles you will be making, hopefully to re-use old jars and tins ( you don’t really need to worry about the protective lining of tins spoiling with heat and leaking BPA/Bisphenol, as most waxes melt at a temperature much lower than the one food in these cans is sterilized at), is the wick. A good wick ensures that the candle burns brightly and well.
To put it simply, you need a cotton ( hopefully unbleached and if organic – Halleluiah!) yarn, you need to soak it ( if you want to colour your wick), maybe braid it if it is too thin and then prime it and Hey presto, your very own home-made wick, stored in newspaper for when needed. You could, obviously, buy a readymade wick but what is the fun there plus who knows what it is made of….
So here is the process in a few easy peasy steps – you could go straight to step 3 if you like:
1.Soak your cotton if you’d like to colour the flame. I soaked about 3 metres, rolled for ease, OVERNIGHT in this solution:
1 Tbs salt + 2 Tbs boric acid (makes the flame deep red) + 1 cup warm water
Choose one of the following for a different color flame:
A tsp of calcium: reddish orange flame
A tsp of table salt: yellow flame
A tsp of Borax: yellowish-green flame
A tsp of potassium sulfate or saltpeter (potassium nitrate): purple flame
A tsp of Epsom salts: white flame
A tsp of alum: green flame
2. Dry the yarn: The next morning, hang the yarn until dried completely – 1-5 days. If the yarn is very thin, cut and braid the dried strands together as tightly as possible. Remember that a candle will burn longer and brighter with a quality wick. A loose, poorly constructed wick will shorten the life of your candle.
3. Prime your wick: Dipping your wick into hot wax until
it is thoroughly saturated will prime your wick. This ensures that your candles will light more easily as well as making your wick water-resistant.
Heat your chosen wax in a double boiler and when melted, use a tweezer to hold the yarn and dip it- who would have thought that a tweezer could be so useful in candle making? Take the wick out of the wax and harden it by dipping it in a bowl of water and then lay it onto a waxed paper or do as I did, hang em to dry like in the below pic:
I didn’t want to use waxed paper as I am trying to limit waste. But you don’t have to be a purist like me. Anyway, to encourage stiffness, repeat this process several times. When you are finished, primed wicks can be stored in rolled newspapers.
Trust me, the quantity made will keep you in the candle making zone for enough time to be worth the bother 🙂