On the road to sustainability I recently learned a new skill: making taper candles. We have been beekeepers for 3 years now, and aside from amazing honey, our bees supply us with extra beeswax. I use the wax in a number of homemade body products, but I have been planning on making candles with the wax for a long time. Melt and pour candles such as votives and pillars are nice, but taper candles have elegance, require a bit more effort, and give off better light. As with a lot of homesteading skills, candle-making is surprisingly easy. You don’t require a lot of tools or equipment, or even much skill. And the end result is perfection.
First, before you do anything, watch this beautiful video. I am enchanted with the simplicity of the process and the use of bees buzzing as background noise rather than more talk. In fact, you really don’t need any more instruction on how to make them than this video.
- Wicking. Candle supply stores have it, and so do craft stores such as Michaels. The size of your wicking is important; you don’t want too thick of a wick for a taper candle or the wick won’t burn fast enough to keep up with the wax. Too thin of a wicking will mean the candle will drown itself. My friend at Joybilee Farm showed me how to wrap wicking around a ruler to see how wide it was. The ideal width for a taper candle is about 10-13 wraps per inch, with the wraps not being twisted but lying flat and close together. Most candle supply stores will have a guideline too. 12 ply flat braided wicking is a good one.
- Wax. When making dipped candles you need quite a lot of wax since you need a pot of hot wax to dip your wick in. Joybilee Farm recommends 3 lb of wax to make 44 – 6 inch tapered candles, and 26 feet of wicking. Buy beeswax here.
- A tall narrow metal container to melt your wax in. I used an old olive oil container from soap making.
- An old pot to boil water in, in order to melt the wax.
- Nuts to attach to either end of your wicking to keep the wicking straight for dipping. (as in, nuts and bolts and screws…)
- A tall bucket of cold water to dip the candles in to cool them quickly, between dipping.
- Scissors to cut the nuts off after the candles are finished.
- A rack or safe place to hang the candles to cool and harden.
- Melt your wax.
- Cut a piece of wicking 16 inches long.
- Tie nuts onto both ends of the wicking.
- Dip in the wax to the depth you would like your candles to be.
- Dip into cold water to cool.
- Repeat dips into wax then dips into water until your candle is the right length .
- Remove the nuts with scissors. Dip the ends of the candles once more to seal the bottom.
- Hang candles on a rack to harden.
- Take nuts out of the wax while the wax is still soft.
If you want all your candles to be the same length you will have to add wax as you go since you will be using it up each dip.
You can use different types of wax too. I don’t use paraffin wax because it isn’t sustainable or clean burning. If you want a cheaper, or a vegan option, you can use soy wax (although it will be made from GMO soy unless it specifically states that it isn’t).
I made birthday candles too, with a very thin wick and only a few dips!
You can store the hardened wax in the metal container if you like, or while the wax is still hot pour it into molds to harden and store the wax. Aternatively you can pour it into candle molds and make votives, tea lights, or pillar candles! Make sure you have the proper wicks for that.
For more candle tutorials check out: