I like tuna and I LOVE tuna-mayonaise ( blame the Brit in me) and trust me, you have to have CANNED tuna to make a good tuna-mayo (check out my food blog re tuna mayo). But alas, I stopped eating tuna for a while coz I didn’t know WHAT to do with the cans as throwing them, even into a recycling bin, was just not a satisfying option; this disposable culture we live in is not for me. So, you ask, “What does tuna-mayonaise have to do with candles?” Jeez, didn’t your mum teach you patience? I am getting there!
Back to those tins – one day, it suddenly struck me, as I was running low on tea-lights for my terrace, why not use the empty cans plus also any spare glass jars as candles? That was my Eureka moment. So, this is what you do:
1. Choose what sort of wax you would like to work on. My previous post is a good pointer. I usually stick to soya, which is highly recommended for beginners and comes from a renewable source.
2. The hardest bit: Sourcing a good supplier for:
a.The wax : Hopefully organic. I have found a local supplier who, to boot, doesn’t add any plastic packaging as I have expressly requested them not to. This was my Hallelujah moment.
b.The wick and metal support: These are usually sold at the same place and here you will get info to select the right sized wick ( yup, depends on the type of wax and diameter of container) for your candle.
Alternatively, you can be like me and learn to make your own wicks ( next post).
c. The Essential oils (EOs) or herbs you would like to add to make your candle smell wonderful or be practical ( ie as a mozzie repellent) – hopefully also organic. Get a few but get good quality – you don’t need to open a shop either, you know! Here are some user-friendly EOs for candle making – chosen primarily for tenacity, low risk, and cost-effectiveness:
lemongrass, geranium, lemon-scented eucalyptus, benzoin, patchouli, ylang ylang, lavandin, lime, orange, spearmint, spruce or pine – and clove and cinnamon bark at low concentrations
A general rule of thumb for quantities = 1/4 oz of fragrance oil per pound of wax – and 1 teaspoon of essential oil per pound of wax.
1 teaspoon is about 5 ml essential oil – depending on viscosity.
3. You need a candy thermometer. Why? Here’s why:
You can’t add EO whenever you feel like it. You need to know something called the flash point: The flash point is the temperature at which a substance can catch fire and burn the liquid.
The flash point of an essential oil must be above 65 degrees Celsius (149 Fahrenheit). If the oil is added in the candle below its flash point, then its scent will be preserved almost intact. Here you can read up on flash points for some more EOs.
4. Get a metal pot, to be used only for candle making, and if with a lip, even better. Make sure it holds double the amount of wax you will use and you can use this ‘bain marie’ (inside another pot with water in it) as melting wax directly on the flame can be extremely dangerous. The ideal temperature of melted wax is between 60 – 80 degrees Celsius (140 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit). Anything above and the wax will ignite in an instant! So be careful there, because wax is highly flammable. Make sure you have some Sodium Bicarbonate on hand in case of a fire.
4. Get some good, eco, heat proof glue to stick the tab/support to your tuna tin or glass jar.
5. You need as many clothespins as candle receptacles.
Method: Start by putting the wick into the tab/support. With a pair of pliers, squeeze the mouth bit tight around the wick. Alternatively, you can pop some glue into the mouth and stick the wick. This way the mouth won’t be deformed and you can reuse the tab once your candle has been used. Or once melted, dip the wick end into the melted wax (only works for beeswax) and place in the center of your container. Press into the bottom of the container. The beeswax will solidify and hold your wick in place. You can also secure the wick by pouring a bottom layer of wax to cover the wick end and allow to cool while you hold the wick in place. This is a rather frustrating wait.
Pose the tab in the tin and cut off the string about an inch above the rim. You’ll see why in a sec.
Now, stick the prepared wick on to your receptacle with a dab of glue. Prepare all your receptacles like this. Done?
Wait an hour or so, so that the metal support is tightly stuck to the bottom of your receptacle.
Ta-taaan – see why your wick needed to be longer than you expected? You need a clothespin to hold your wick upright while you pour the wax, you see. Else, as you can imagine, it will fall into the wax and that would be a pain indeed.
I have seen people buying wick supports but frankly, a clothespin does as good a job as any and everyone has some in their home. Why buy unnecessary stuff when you can make do (and perfectly at that ) with what you have?
Put your wax in bain marie to melt. If you add dried herbs, heat it for at least 45 minutes with the herbs to get the goodness and then pick all the bits off – kinda messy and meh.
Control the temperature with your thermometer. If the wax melts at a higher temperature than the flashpoint of your EO, wait till it cools down before adding the EO and mix well either with your thermometer or a glass wand or wooden stick
Now, VERY carefully, pour the wax into your receptacles.
Wait anything from an hour to 24 hrs for your candles to set and take off the clothespins. Voilá!
Look, I simply re-filled a tea-light I also had.
Now to decorate your candles….fun!