Bet You Didn't Know
No one knows when the first candle was invented. Some historians believe candles were first used by the Egyptians around 3,000 B.C., and Tutankhamen had what may have been a bronze candleholder in his tomb.
The kitchen is a good place for candle making, since you'll need a heat source for melting wax and a place to leave your candles to cool. If you and your child get more involved in candle making, you may want to find a portable burner, but to start, the kitchen stove will do nicely.
We can cover some of the basics here, but you'll want to do some more reading before you seriously get into candle making. This is one craft where you may find a kit is a good investment; it will give you all the things you need to make your first candle and see if it's something you and your child want to pursue. A good candle-making kit is available through the Lark Books catalog.
Project: Candle Making
When making candles, NEVER put wax directly on the stove burner. It will smoke and can pop and crackle, causing burns. Even when wax is in the double boiler, always watch it and never leave it unattended with a child.
Age: 7 and up
Materials needed: Candles you have around the house (for novice candlemakers), cotton string, an old pot, a large, clean, empty can, old newspapers, an old pencil, the mold or container of your choice, a double boiler (you can create one using the can and the old pot)
Fill the double boiler with just enough water that the can doesn't float around. Add water to the pot if it evaporates. Don't let it boil down. Melt the wax in the double boiler.
Cut a length of wick and dip it in the wax a few times to coat. Wrap the wick around the pencil and move it until it's the right length forthe mold you choose.
When the wax is melted, use a potholder to pour it into the mold, holding it at an angle and pouring the wax down the side. Set aside some of the melted wax for later.
Put the wick in the exact middle of the mold. Let it cool about one hour. Reheat the leftover wax. Poke holes in the candle around the wick about halfway down the depth of the candle and pour wax up to the original fill line. Repeat two or three times.
Perhaps the easiest and least messy way to get kids involved in candle making is to use sheets of beeswax that can be rolled or layered together and cut into shapes. Add a wick and voilà, you've made a candle!
A mixture of three parts paraffin wax and one part block beeswax is a good formula for container or molded candles. Note that paraffin wax comes in different melting points, and the type of candle you're making will determine which melting point wax you'll need to get. There's container wax (130°F) for poured candles that will stay in their containers, mold wax (139-143°F) for candles that will set in a mold and be removed, and dipping wax (145°F) for making dipped tapers.
There are also various additives that harden candles, extend their burning time, or change them in some other way. You can experiment with stearic acid, lustre crystals, clear crystals, and other materials. You can also embellish the outside of your candle with items like coffee beans, cinnamon sticks, and dried flowers. Candles can be colored and scented, too.
Wicks come in different types and sizes. The types are flat braid, square braid, metal core, and paper core. The sizes are small, medium, and large diameter. The larger or longer-burning the candle, the larger diameter the wick.
There are a variety of molds available – from metal and plastic to soft rubber, hard rubber, and acrylic. You can also make molds from things you find around your kitchen, such as wax-coated fruit juice cans, milk cartons, canning jars, paper cups, and various empty food containers. Terra-cotta pots and small galvanized buckets also make good containers.
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