|My first attempt at making beeswax tealight candles.
They turned out well!
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.
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.
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.
- 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:
|Shown above are the tabs, wick and containers that I used. They are resting on a bed of the tiny organic beeswax pastilles.|
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 organic beeswax tealights.|
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).