Written by guest contributor Marlese Hazeu of Candles for Hope.
My journey into making beeswax candles came somewhat unexpected, but I’ve fallen head over heels in love and have never looked back. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.
1. Wax source: if you can, find a local apiarist (beekeeper) and ask them what they do with their wax. The other option is to head over to a local supplier. I have used BeeMaid in Winnipeg. Keep in mind, there is no quality control for the wax they obtain. One week you may get beautiful clean wax, the next it may be full of bee parts or sediment.
2. Breaking up the wax: If you end up with a hug slab of wax and you need it to be broken in to smaller pieces, save yourself the headache of painstakingly trying to chisel, slice or chop off a chunk and freeze it instead. Once frozen, beeswax becomes brittle. Place in a bag and smash with a hammer. Kids love this part!
3. Melting: Always melt wax in a double boiler. Be patient, better to do it slowly on medium heat. Wax is best poured at 160F. Too hot and it will crack when cooled, too cold and it will not pour smoothly.
4. Filtering: There are various methods. Some use gravity to let the sediment settle and ladle the pure wax off the top. Others use a water bath, with acidified water using simple vinegar. The particles actually are held in the water, once poured off into a pail to cool, leaving a block of pure wax. The other way is long and tedious. It involved straining melting wax through kleenex and a strainer, one ladle at a time, leaving you an extremely pure, clean wax to work with. Also with the most amazing fire starter to use and give away to all your family and friends.
Things to keep in mind:
- Dirty wax will sputter, smoke and choke the wick.
- If you don’t have a designated pot to melt over a double boiler… the pot can actually be cleaned after use quite easily, contrary to popular belief. Simply use cold water, soap and a metal scrubby. It works amazing. Remember, wax becomes brittle when frozen or cold. This works to your advantage.
- Thrift stores are gold for finding all your beeswax melting supplies (ladle, pots & strainers).
- Pure beeswax will shrink. That’s one way to know it’s real. Even different batches from difference sources will have different shrinkage percentages. Some people add fillers (other waxes) to lessen the shrinkage. It’s better to fill to the brim to compensate for shrinkage.
- Wax can naturally be a range of colors from pale yellow to almost brown. It all depends on where the busy bees have been.
I have enjoyed this process of trial and error and I hope this will help eliminate a few frustrating moments for you with this humble post on beeswax.
Marlese Hazeu loves the bunnytrails life takes; they bring her to many hidden treasures she would not otherwise have discovered. She loves the outdoors and shares that joy with her husband and 4 crazy kids.
Marlese is the founder and operator of Candles for Hope, which exists to provide quality, hand crafted, 100% pure beeswax candles for you and your home, with 100% of the profits being given to Mercy in Action.
Mercy in Action is a non-profit organization that focuses on the crisis in Maternal/Newborn/Child health care worldwide. They have established and funded free birth centers for poor families in the Philippines since 1992, and to date more than 12,000 babies have been delivered free of charge for the poorest of the poor in Mercy In Action’s Birth Centers, and literally tens of thousands of lives have been helped and healed in the medical outreaches. Their current Birth Center is Mercy Midwives Birthing Home outside of Olongapo, Philippines.
This post was shared as a part of Montessori Monday at Living Montessori Now, Natural Living Monday at Modern Alternative Health, Simple Lives Thursday at Real Food for Less Money/My Humble Kitchen, Unprocessed Fridays at Girl Meets Nourishment, Simply Natural Saturdays at The Pistachio Project, and Thank Goodness It’s Monday at Nourishing Joy.