I set off on a journey to make candles. As a result, I now have a gym membership, floors like a basketball court, a go-to prohibition era cocktail, and so much mood lighting. Oh, and of course a lot of knowledge that I would like to share with you so that you can avoid some of the mistakes that I made along the way.
Things I learned the hard way on this journey:
#1 – I do not have the physical ability to carry 55 lbs of beeswax to my car hence the gym membership.
#2 – Candle making is a small group activity!!!!! Although the party was fun, hot wax and large groups of people around a very hot stove create unnecessary risk for your kitchen. I would say keep your numbers to around 4, but candle making is probably best done in pairs.
#3 – How to remove wax from every surface imaginable – stay tuned for a follow up post on this topic.
And so, without further delay, I bring you the amateur’s guide to candle making.
Things you’ll need:
- Beeswax – I got mine in bulk from Bulk Apothecary. This website is amazing and their beeswax prices were the lowest I found. You do not need to order 55 lbs of beeswax like I did. Maybe start with 8 lbs to see if this is something you could get into.
- Essential oils – again I got these from Bulk Apothecary but you can get them from Amazon, Whole Foods, etc. These can get pricey so shop around.
- Wicks – again from Bulk Apothecary but you can also buy candle making kits from craft stores if you are trying to do the whole one stop shop thing.
- Vessel for candle – mason jars, jam jars, old candle holders, tea cups – you can get really creative here
- Pouring Pot – I snubbed my nose at the pouring pot. You can also use a pyrex glass measuring cup, or any tall vessel that can be boiled. I found out the hard way that the taller the vessel the better. How we found this out: wax spilled out of the pyrex and into the water and water got into the pyrex. This should be avoided at all cost if you want perfect candles, and jars that don’t slip out of people’s hands as they walk across your kitchen due to a slick layer of hot wax on the outside of the jar. I no longer snub my nose at the pouring pot, and I think it could have reduced much of my distress that followed the party.
- Sauce pan or pot. I would go out and buy a very cheap pan or pot to use if you plan on doing this often. I did get my All Clads back to their original luster, but my elbows are still sore (from all the elbow grease I used up, of course). Wax does not do permanent damage but it is a pain in the butt to get off of everything.
- Thermometer – I used my meat thermometer. You can also buy fancy candle making ones even though there is really no need.
- Oven mitt and rubber gloves- we are dealing with hot wax here people.
- Parchment paper – to line every square inch of your countertop.
- Chopsticks or pencils or some long disposable sticks for keeping your wick in place once your wax is poured.
- Cover your countertops in parchment paper. Cover the area in front of your stove as well if you are super messy. Wear an apron. Seriously, do not skip this step.
- Fill sauce pot 3/5 of the way full with water. Bring to 180 degrees.
- While the water heats, measure the amount of wax you need by filling your vessel to the top with wax (once the wax is melted it will take up less space leaving some space at the top).
- Pour wax pellets into pouring pot.
- Once water is at 180 degrees, place pouring pot into boiling water.
- Sip on The Bees Knees as the wax melts. This took much longer that I thought it would. For a pint size mason jar, it takes at least 20-30 minutes for the wax to melt.
- Once the wax is completely melted, add the essential oil of your choice. The internet recommended a tablespoon of oil per cup of wax. I am not made of money, so I put about a teaspoon of oil in about two cups of wax. My candles are fragrant, but the more oil you put in, the more fragrant they will be. You can also leave your candles au natural. Beeswax has a lovely natural smell when it burns.
- Stir essential oils so they dissolve completely.
- Dip the metal bottom of the wick in melted wax and place in jar, allowing the bottom of the wick to stick to the jar as it cools. (Kudos to my friend Michelle for coming up with this trick to keep the wick from moving around too much as the wax is poured in.)
- Place chopsticks on either side of the wick so that it doesn’t fall to the side when the wax is poured in.
- Pour the wax in.
- Let sit for 4 hours.
- Trim the exposed wick to be 1/4 inch.
- Burn, baby, burn.
It should be no surprise that my candle making party got out of pocket. My mom and I marvelled at how clean people’s houses always look in their blogs. We took this picture to set the record straight about what actually happens during a project!
The sheets of paper were created so that people could keep track of how much wax they had used and because I was trying to be cute. Really they just added to the general pandemonium. The fact that we tried to fit as many vessels of hot wax in my pots as possible probably didn’t help either.
The Bees Knees
Finding a bee-themed cocktail was clearly a delight. Honey is a wonderful cocktail ingredient as its sweet and fragrant properties balance the more bitter flavors that cause many to shy away from serious cocktails. I settled on a classic Prohibition Era cocktail that I found in the archives of the charming holly & flora which I will be fawning over for the foreseeable future. The Bee’s Knees used honey to mask the often terrible taste of bathtub gin during that little experimental time from our country’s history that inspired people to continue to dress up like this:
And by people I mean me and Melissa and the 1920’s Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor’s Island. Just Google it and go already. When you do, be sure to bring some of these with you:
- 2 oz gin (no need for fancy stuff here since the honey is meant to mask the flavor – I used Beefeater London Dry Gin.
- 3/4 oz honey
- 1/2 oz of lemon juice
- dash of bitters – your choice here – you can get fancy or go classic here – I used orange bitters
- 3/4 oz water
- sprig of fresh thyme for garnish
Make honey water by heating equal parts honey and water until honey dissolves. Mix gin, lemon, bitters and honey water in a shaker with ice. Strain into martini or coupe glass. Garnish with thyme. Sip while you make your candles!
Note that this drink is excellent for making in large batches. I mixed up a batch in a large pitcher using an entire bottle of gin (24 oz) which meant that I multiplied all of my ingredients by 12. Then I stirred ice into the drink to cool it down. This also diluted the drink a little which was not a bad thing. This drink was strong even by my standards! Enjoy!