A Faint Honey Scent . . .
Golden glow and long burn time are just the beginning of a handmade beeswax candle’s charm. Unlike paraffin candles (which release carcinogens like toluene and benzene into the air) and their soy counterparts (which are often derived from GMOs), beeswax candles actually draw toxins out of the air with their cheerful flame as while you knead sourdough in the kitchen, sip wine in the tub or make shadow puppets on the wall. No really! According to this article:
“Beeswax releases negative ions when it burns. Pollen, dust, dirt, pollutants, and any other junk in the air all carry a positive charge, and that is how they can be suspended in the air. The negative ions released from burning beeswax negate the positive charge of air contaminants, and the neutralized ions are sucked back into the burning candle or fall to the ground. Many air purifiers and water filters harness this effective negative ion technology.
Beeswax candles effectively reduce [the symptoms of] asthma, allergies, and hay fever by drawing pollutants out of the air.”
Now, are you ready for the best part? Making beeswax candles at home – either as a gift or for yourself – is little more than a melt and pour process. In the tutorial below I’ll show you just how easy it is.
But First, A Few Considerations . . .
Because beeswax candles are slow burning, they require thicker, sturdier wicks than what is used for paraffin candles. Below is a chart that can help you determine roughly what size you need.
|Container Diameter||Type of Wick||Wick Size|
|Tealight||Cotton, square is best||#4/0|
|Votive||Cotton, square is best||#3/0|
|2-2.5″||Cotton, square is best||#3|
|2.5-2.8″||Cotton, square is best||#4|
|2.8-3.2″||Cotton, square is best||#6|
|3.2-3.5″||Cotton, square is best||#7|
|3.5-4″||Cotton, square is best||#8|
Keep in mind that the way a wick burns will vary based on many factors, including the size of the container and how refined the beeswax is. It may take a little experimentation to find the perfect size for your wax/container combo.
One-hundred percent beeswax candles tend to burn hot and can sometimes crack the jar they are poured into. My friend Cara over at Health Home & Happiness came up with a brilliant solution to this for beginners who are just figuring things out – blending beeswax with another “cooler” oil like palm oil. In the tutorial below I’ve used coconut oil because it’s what I had on hand. Are you ready to get started? Okay then!
How To Make Beeswax Candles
This recipe makes 40 ounces of candle wax. I divided mine between four 12 oz containers so that they were filled but not overflowing. Of course, you can make them smaller or larger!
- 1.5 pounds filtered beeswax (see tutorial below if your beeswax is unfiltered. I recommend using organic because contaminants such as pesticides that are used on industrial produced hives will collect in the wax.)
- 1 cup coconut oil (where to buy coconut oil)
- about 20 inches of cotton wick – avoid ones that contain a metal core as even the zinc ones may be contaminated with lead or tin and see above for thickness recommendations
- wick clip (optional – I didn’t use one but it does help keep the wick in place when it has burned down to the last bit)
- candle jars – I used four 12 ounce jars, which left about 2 ounces worth of room left at the top of each jar
- double boiler or pot with smaller pot fitted inside
- four pencils
Step 1: Prepare your candle jars
Cut a length of wick that is about 2 inches longer than the height of your jar. Tie the wick around a pencil and position it over the center of the jar.
Step 2: Melt wax and oil in a double boiler
In a double boiler (or large pot of simmering water with a smaller pot resting inside), gently melt the beeswax over low heat. When the beeswax is fully melted, add the coconut oil and stir until everything is melted and combined. Bring the mixture to about 160-165F.
Step 3: Set your wick
To do this, first pour a thin layer of beeswax in the bottom of your jar, taking care to get some on your wick . . .
and then gently press the tip of the wick into place with your finger or the end of a pen, and pull on the wick so that it hardens nice and straight – this will take about a minute or less.
Step 4: Pour the candle
Once the wick has set pour the rest of the wax/oil mixture in and then check the position of the wick to make sure it is still centered.
Step 5: Trim Wick
Allow to harden for 24 hours, then trim the wick to about 1/4 inch. Allow to cure for another 24 hours before using. When lighting your candle, direct the flame at the base of the wick so that some of wax melts and is drawn up into the wick – this helps it burn properly. Allow candle to burn long enough so the wax melts out to the side of the jar. This helps to prevent tunneling (when the middle melts down with lots of wax left over around the edges). Never leave a candle unattended.
How To Filter Beeswax
Unfiltered beeswax comes with bits of propolis and other debris that can hinder burning. If you purchased your beeswax unfiltered, here are three simple steps that will make it candle-ready.
- double boiler
- old t-shirt or pillowcase
- mesh sieve
- parchment paper
- large bowl
Step 1: Melt the beeswax in a double boiler
Step 2: Pour over a sieve
To get out the tiniest bits of grit, line your mesh sieve with a t-shirt or old pillowcase. Also line the bowl beneath with parchment paper. When you you’ve got everything in place simply pour the melted was through the sieve and wait for it to harden. Voila, you’ve filtered beeswax!