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Making Natural Organic Beeswax Tealight Candles is Easy

Organic Beeswax Tealight Candles
My first attempt at making beeswax tealight candles.
They turned out well!
 
Candle diffusers, also known as aromalamps, are usually warmed by use of a tealight candle. For those of us into holistic aromatherapy, defined as the practice of using only natural ingredients, we should be giving thought not only to the quality of the essential oils that we diffuse, but also to our choice of tealight candles. The majority of tealights are made from pariffin wax. Paraffin wax is a byproduct of petroleum product and emits toxins into the air when burned. It is counterproductive to use paraffin tealights to diffuse our precious and natural essential oils.

Instead, I use beeswax or soy tealights, but I have learned that some "100% natural" candle makers and artisans are using wick assemblies that are pre-coated in paraffin. The amount of paraffin wax that the wicks are coated in is negligible. I'm not such a purist that I wouldn't burn such a tealight if that's all that was available, but I have a thing for principles... I am against hyping products as 100% natural when they aren't. Also... some makers are using blended waxes (i.e. a soy and paraffin blend) and simply calling their candles "soy wax candles."

If you haven't already, I encourage you to read my AromaWeb article entitled Aromatherapy Candles. Since so many people are still not aware that most candles are made with toxin-emitting paraffin wax, this bears repeating: Unless a candle is made with beeswax or a vegetable based wax like soy, the wax can emit toxins when burned and isn't suitable for aromatherapy use.

A few years ago, I took a daylong class in candle making at Greenfield Village. It was a lively course that described the types of waxes and challenges that our forefathers had when making candles. It included an introduction to beeswax and bayberry (a vegetable based wax) candle making. Other than the knowledge that I gleaned from that daylong class, I'm a total noob to candle making.

I decided to try making my own beeswax tealights. I use organic products whenever possible, and I used organic beeswax pastilles available through FromNatureWithLove.com. I realized that it can't be that hard or time consuming to make tealights - especially when it's in easy to melt pastille form (no grating!) - and I was right. After obtaining the supplies, it only took me 15 minutes to make six 100% pure organic beeswax candles made with pure cotton wicking. As natural a candle as you can get. My wicks were a little off-center, but with practice (and a little Googling), I'm sure I'll get the hang of it in no time.

Below are the supplies that I used and the steps that I took to make them. Remember that melting wax and burning candles requires care. This post describes what I used and the steps I took during my first attempt. It's up to you if you want to try this, and I'm not responsible if anything goes wrong during your attempts.


Supplies:

Beeswax:
I used organic beeswax pastilles available through FromNatureWithLove.com, but conventional beeswax (in pellet form or grated) would work as well.* Ahh... the life of the bees that are responsible for the production of organic beeswax. They are given only organic botanicals to indulge upon.

*FNWL also sells conventional yellow and white beeswax pellets. If any other AromaWeb advertiser sells beeswax in quantities suitable for tealight candlemaking, let me know and I'll be happy to mention you here.

Wick:
I used #3/0 square braid cotton wick. I know nothing about wick dimensions, but this is the type of cotton wick that was recommended to me, and it seems to be doing the job. You can buy readymade wick/tab assemblies made especially for tealight candles, but they are usually not suitable for vegetable/beeswax candles. The wick size is often wrong and the wicks tend to be pre-coated in paraffin wax.

Metal Wick Tabs:
These hold the wick in place. See the photo. Simply insert one end of the wick and crimp the metal with pliers.

Empty Tealight Containers:
I opted for the clear acrylic container type. I have been repeatedly assured that the heat of a candle does not cause them to burn or emit toxins into the air. The clear tealights allow me to see the beauty of the beeswax as it burns. I'm not partial to the look of the aluminum containers.

Also:

  • Pyrex or Other Microwave Safe Measuring Cup
  • Paper Towel
  • Hot Pad (I used a dishcloth as it wraps around the more narrow measuring cup handle easier than a thicker hot pad or silicon pad)
  • Optional: A scale with a tare feature


Preparing the Wick/Tab Assemblies:

Cold Pressed Vegetable Oils
  Shown above are the tabs, wick and containers that I used. They are resting on a bed of the tiny organic beeswax pastilles.
To make my initial batch of six tealights, I began by preparing my wicks. I will probably soon learn a better way to do this. Experienced candle makers are welcome to comment or e-mail me. I cut the wick into about 1.5" lengths so I'd have enough to hold the wick in place as I poured the wax. After cutting the wicks, I then placed each one into the metal tabs and crimped the tabs. Be careful not to let any of the wick hang out from the underside of the tab, otherwise the wick/tab assembly will not sit properly in the container. I then stood the wick/tab assemblies into the individual containers and then move onto preparing the beeswax for pouring.


Preparing the Beeswax:

I added 3.6 ounces (by weight not volume) of the organic beeswax pastilles to a Pyrex measuring cup. This was almost the equivalent of 8oz. by volume. I then placed the measuring cup in my microwave* and placed a napkin over the top and slowly microwaved the wax for approximately 5 minutes. I stopped every few minutes to check on it. I observed no splattering on the napkin as it heated, but I suggest you use caution. As soon as the wax is melted, remove it from the microwave. The measuring cup handle WILL BE HOT. Use a hot pad.

*Important Update: Thank you to Christa who read this post and took the time to email me to point out the potential health hazards and "un-naturalness" (my klunky word, not hers!) of heating the beeswax in the microwave. As Christa suggests, use of a double boiler (or a double boiler insert or jar) really doesn't take much longer than microwaving the wax. (Just be sure you wipe out the inner pot or insert while the wax is still melted for easier clean-up).


Pouring the Beeswax:

Freshly Poured Beeswax Tealights
Freshly poured organic beeswax tealights.  
I then carefully poured the beeswax into each of the six tealight containers, trying to be careful to keep the wick in the center. I filled each tealight until just under the edge of the container. I then allowed them to cool for a few hours. Afterwards, I noticed that the wicks of most of my initial batch were not perfectly centered. They burn just fine, but I'm sure there's an easy at-home way to center the wicks better.


Results:

My organic beeswax tealights burn well and pretty evenly (despite my off-center wicks). I am getting burn times of 5-6 hours out of each one. That's not too shabby considering I'm used to only a 4 hour burn time with the last batch of readymade beeswax tealights that I purchased. Down the road, I look forward to trying my hand at soy tealights.

Keep in mind that the intended use for these tealights is to gently heat essential oils in a candle diffuser. There's no point in fragrancing these tealights with essential oils - it take a lot of essential oil to fragrance a candle to the point where the aroma is strong enough to be noticeable (one of the reasons that it's difficult to find candles that are fragranced solely with essential oils).

Comments

BsaB Candles

These look very nice... One thing that may help with the wicks is if you tape or glue the wick inbetween 2 toothpicks while pouring then simply cut the wick or remove the wick once the wax has dried. Then you won't have so much leftover wick and don't have to worry about getting wax on your hands. Plus beeswax can burn a bit hot so you don't want to burn yourself. They look very nice though. Great post!

Wendy

Hi, and thanks for sharing your tip. It's been a long day for me, and I want to be sure I follow you. How exactly are you gluing/taping the wicks to the toothpicks? Are the toothpicks parallel to each other and resting atop the tealight cup like a set of skis with the wick slid in between?

BsaB Candles

Yes, you simply rest the wick holder (toothpick) atop the tealight just like you say. It doesn't have to be toothpicks. For tealights, a set of tweezers can be very simple as you can slide the wick in between the tweezer forks and not worry about securing the wick.

I've heard of people drilling small holes in popsicle sticks as well which would probably work too.

Wendy

Ahhh... that makes sense. The tweezer idea is interesting and sounds like the easiest solution, but it would require stocking up on enough sets in order to make several tealights at a time. I especially love the idea of the popsicle sticks. Craft stores supply miniature ones that I use to scoop out handmade creams (Sidenote: it helps prologue the shelf life of handmade products when you don't dip your fingers into the jar). The miniature popsicle sticks are a perfect size for the tealights. Again my thanks for sharing your helpful insight on making the tealights. You have some intriguing beeswax candle styles on your site that I haven't seen elsewhere, and I look forward to revisiting soon. Take care.

Organic Beeswax Candles

Hi,

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Thanks Again,

Organic Beeswax Candles

Silver Harvest Candles

Hi,

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Thanks for posting...

Buzz2bee

I suggest a book titled "Beeswax: Production, Harvesting, Processing and Products" by Coggshall and Morse. I'm a beekeeper and I love to make candles too. Those pearls you get to melt down are usually cosmetic grade and ultra refined. You could get a better smelling candle with a rawer product and more than likely a much better deal if you could find a local beekeeper. Good luck and have fun! Thanks for spreading the good word about these great candles.

Buzz2bee

One other point I'd like to make is I really do support local and organic methods. However we can't control a honeybees diet and we don't know if our bees get exposed to chemicals or not. This is why the FDA has not adopted an organic standard for Honey as of yet. Because I use plastic in my hive I cannot claim I'm organic. I don't use any chemicals yet organic producers can be using some chemicals like formic acid. A natural beekeeper in your area is someone you should support. Not all beekeepers who use organic methods are good and you should question it's orgin and what have they done to the wax to process it? Wax is notoriously adultered and diluted on the international market. Ask your beekeeper questions and make sure your getting a great product.

Christina

I like your post. About the wicks you can use toothpicks, but I have found it easier to use hair pins.

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