6 ways how to make candles with beeswax: dipped, poured, jarred, molded, and rolled with beeswax or beeswax sheets. Make beeswax candles from scratch at home with beeswax and DIY cotton wicks!
Learn 6 ways how to make beeswax candles from scratch at home! Homemade beeswax candles are eco-friendly, non-toxic and even have health benefits because beeswax candles purify the air while burning. Historically, there were different ways to make candles with beeswax. Since the Middle Ages, beeswax candles have been rolled, dipped, poured or molded. And today, you can also make DIY beeswax candles in jars or with beeswax sheets.
‘All candles were “dipped,” “rolled,” or “poured,” till the Sieur de Brez, in the 15th century, introduced the “mould” candles’ (The Photographic News, 1883).
All the following beeswax candles are made with DIY wicks. So you only need two things for these homemade beeswax candles: beeswax and cotton string for the DIY wicks!
History Of Beeswax Candles
If you need candles for a historical reenactment event or a Victorian party, four of the following candle making techniques have already been used since the Middle Ages! Historical candles were either made of beeswax or tallow. Tallow candles, however, require a different wick.
Related: How To Make Tallow Candles
Beeswax candles were expensive so they were mainly used in churches, wealthy households and on special occasions. For everyday occasions, less well off households used rushlights, tallow candles and oil lamps instead. Since the Victorian era, paraffin and stearin was also used to make candles. However, here I show you how to make beeswax candles at home.
Related: How To Make Rushlights
Beeswax candles have always been closely related to other bee products like honey. So you can bake original medieval Nuremberg gingerbread with honey and enjoy it by the light of your homemade beeswax candles! By the way, Nuremberg was called “the bee garden of the Holy Roman Empire” in medieval times.
How To Make DIY Wicks For Beeswax Candles
Candle wicks for beeswax candles have always been made of cotton. Even as early as the Middle Ages, when cotton was not yet used for clothing, candle wicks were already made of cotton. And since the Victorian era, cotton candle wicks were always braided. Braided wicks have advantages over earlier twisted wicks.
Instead of braided cotton candle wicks, you can also gather your DIY candle wicks outdoors! Rushes were typically used for rushlights and rush candles made with tallow, but rush wicks were sometimes used for beeswax candles as well.
Benefits Of Beeswax Candles
Did you know that burning beeswax candles has health benefits? Beeswax candles reduce allergens – such as pollen and dust – and thus purify the air while burning. So burning beeswax candles can actually improve chronic conditions such as asthma, hay fever and house dust mite allergy. Isn’t that amazing? By the way, other wax candles such as paraffin and stearin candles don’t have these health benefits.
Related: Homemade Moisturizer With Beeswax
I Don’t Have Beeswax – What Can I Use Instead?
If you don’t have beeswax at home, you can also reuse your old candle scraps to make new candles. Just put the leftover wax scraps into an empty, washed tin can and melt in a hot water bath.
You can reuse all store-bought candle wax scrap: paraffin as well as stearin candles. But it’s best not to mix different types of wax.
6 Ways How To Make Candles
DIY Beeswax Candles – Step-By-Step Instructions
- beeswax (or beeswax sheets)
- cotton yarn for DIY braided wicks
- tin can & pot
- optional: empty toilet paper rolls for molded candles
1. Roughly chop the beeswax or use beeswax pellets instead. For these beeswax candles, I reused old beeswax candle scraps. Put the beeswax pieces in an empty, washed tin can or something similar.
2. Melt the beeswax in a hot water bath. Meanwhile cover your entire work surface with paper.
3. Prepare your DIY wicks by braiding together cotton string.
4. Decide whether you want to make rolled, poured, molded, jarred or dipped beeswax candles. Continue to read below.
How To Make Rolled Candles
‘The wax is first softened and worked well by hand in a kettle of warm water; it is then taken out in pieces, and gradually, bit by bit, disposed round a cotton wick slightly twisted, which is hung upon a hook in the wall, beginning at the bottom, and proceeding to the upper part. To prevent the wax from adhering to the hands, they are rubbed over with olive oil or lard.
When the candles have acquired a sufficient size, they are made perfectly round and smooth by rolling them upon a table of hard wood, with a board made of box, that is kept constantly moistened with hot water, to prevent the adhesion of the wax. This method is employed in domestic establishments in warm climates, where people often make their own candles.’ (An Encyclopaedia of Domestic Economy, 1855)
Making rolled beeswax candles is really fast and fun. But instead of warm water, I used a hair dryer to warm the beeswax. I like how the rolled beeswax candles turned out.
How To Make Rolled Candles With Beeswax Sheets
Today, you can also use beeswax sheets to make rolled candles. These rolled beeswax candles are easier to make than the traditional rolled candles above.
However, if historical accuracy is important to you – e.g. if you make candles for a historical event – I haven’t found a historical reference yet if beeswax sheets were used to make candles back then. I guess candles made with beeswax sheets are a modern invention. If you know more, please let me know in the comments!
To make rolled candles with beeswax sheets, warm the sheets between your hands or with a hair dryer. Then roll the beeswax sheets around your DIY braided cotton wick. Continue to roll more beeswax sheets around the candle until your beeswax candle is as thick as you want it.
How To Make Dipped Candles
‘In making dipped candles, the cotton wick is pulled, made straight and smooth […] then put on the broaches […] which are rods about half and inch in diameter, and about three feet long. […]
The workman next takes two or three broaches with wicks, and immerses them carefully in the [melted] tallow [or beeswax], holding them over the vessel to drain, and hangs them on a rack till the tallow gets hard.
They are then dipped a second time, hung up again; and the same a third time, repeating the operation till the candles are of the required thickness. […]
When the candles are finished, their peaked ends or bottoms are taken off […] by passing them over a flat brazen plate heated […] by a fire underneath’ (An Encyclopaedia of Domestic Economy, 1855).
Making dipped beeswax candles is relaxing but requires a lot of patience: So don’t make them if you’re in a rush! By the way, one wick makes two candles so make the wick long enough. Instead of a broach I wrapped the wick around a twig – you can also use a pencil instead. I didn’t have enough beeswax scraps left so my dipped candles turned out rather small. But the surface of dipped beeswax candles is very even.
How To Make Poured Candles
‘In making wax candles by the ladle, the wicks are suspended from a short rod, or a circle of iron over a tinned copper vessel, containing melted wax; a large ladleful of this is poured gently and repeatedly on the tops of the wicks, till the candles have acquired a proper size: they are then rounded and smoothed by rolling on a table’ (An Encyclopaedia of Domestic Economy, 1855).
Making poured candles is similar to making dipped candles but poured candles require less wax in the tin can. And dipped candles are more even than poured candles. Instead of a ladle, I simply used a spoon which also worked. By the way, I didn’t roll the poured candles so that you can see what they look like without smoothing.
How To Make Molded Candles
‘Mould candles are made thus: The moulds are cylinders of pewter, having the inside diameter the size of the candles required; and one end […] having an aperture only large enough to admit the wick.
The cotton wick […] is then passed into the mould […] When the wicks are exactly adjusted, the moulds are placed in the frame and the melted tallow [or beeswax] is poured into them, and allowed to get quite cold and hard: as the tallow gets cold, it shrinks, and leaves a hollow at the top of the mould, which requires filling up with more melted tallow.
The pegs at the bottom are now taken out, and the candles are drawn from the moulds. If they do not draw readily, plunge the mould for an instant into hot water, and the candles will come out easily.’ (An Encyclopaedia of Domestic Economy, 1855)
I used empty toilet paper rolls instead of traditional metal candle molds.
Related: 3 Ways How To Make DIY Candle Molds
Center the wick in the DIY candle mold. Then pour melted beeswax in the mold. And let the beeswax set. After the beeswax is set, remove the cardboard candle mold. Making molded beeswax candles is really fast.
How To Make Beeswax Candles In A Jar
Like beeswax sheet candles, beeswax candles in a jar also seem to be a modern invention. But apart from molded candles, making beeswax candles in jars is one of the fastest ways to make candles.
Ordinary glass jars might break due to the heat of the candle flame. So better use jars made of thick glass as these are less likely to break than jars made of thinner glass. You can also use tin cans instead of glass jars.
Center the wick using a twig or toothpick. Then pour melted beeswax into the jar and let the wax set.
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