Thursday, May 26, 2011

Recycled Candles

I saw this idea in a catalog, and the candles were so pretty, but spendy, so I decided to try and make them myself and I know you can too. I always end up with lots of candles that are half burned down, but can't be lit anymore because they have either lost their wicks in the wax, or the rims melt and the wax pours out all over the place. So I started saving them to re-melt. Some candles have wonderful scents, too.

I started gathering up pretty goblets to use. Anything that is made of thick glass will work fine. Just don't use anything with thin glass or you might end up with hot wax all over the place after the glass breaks. You might have some on hand, or you could start checking out the garage sales and thrift shops.

Then I made a trip to the local craft store and picked up some wicks. There are basically two kinds, a string type that comes in different thicknesses and you have to buy the base and put them together, or a wired kind that comes on a base. The wired kind is easiest. But I used both kinds to demonstrate how it is done. You can also buy some essential oil or fragrance oil if you want to add scent.

You will also need a double boiler, or a heavy saucepan and a Pyrex (heatproof) 2 cup measuring cup. (Make sure the pan is large enough to accommodate the measuring cup with it's handle.) Again, these can be found at thrift stores or garage sales. You don't want to use your nice pans and measuring cups because the wax never really comes off. But you can use them again and again to make more candles! As you can see, mine are well used!

If you are using the string type of wick without the wire, cut off a length long enough to fit from the bottom of the glass with a little extra on top, thread the end into the metal base and clamp it shut with a pair of pliers. I used a few melted drips of a birthday candle to hold the wick to a toothpick suspended over the glass and some ear plug wax to hold the metal base to the bottom. They also sell wax with the candle supplies just for that purpose. But I recommend buying the wired wicks so you don't have to deal with all of that. Just use two chopsticks or kabob sticks on either side of the wick to hold it in the center of the glass while you pour the wax.

All you have to do to melt the wax is put the old candle in the measuring cup or top of the double boiler (remove any sooty parts to the wick), place in pan and add an inch or two of water to the pan. You want to be able to simmer this gently without it boiling over, so don't add too much. You can always add more once it starts to simmer, and in fact you should keep some hot water in a kettle to add to the pan if it boils down too low. Place on burner and heat the water to simmer using medium low heat. Never, never turn the burner up higher than medium, as you could start a fire with the wax. (Also, don't use a microwave for the same reason.) All you want is a gentle simmer and you will see the wax slowly start to melt. Depending on how large your candle is (make sure it is no higher than the edge of the measuring cup, you don't want it to overflow once it melts), this might take upwards of 45 minutes. So be patient and keep a good eye on it. Add more hot water if it needs it. This might be a good time to putter around the kitchen dusting or cleaning out a couple of drawers while you wait.

Once the candle is melted (fish out the old wick) and your wicks are in place in your glasses, take the pan off the stove. At this point you can add some essential oil or fragrance oil for scent (1/4 tsp or so), stir it in and pour the melted wax slowly into the glasses, leaving about 3/4 inch head room and making sure the wick stays centered. Once the wax has hardened, trim the wicks if necessary to about 1/2 inch. To clean up your equipment, use a copper scrub pad and very hot water. Do not pour extra wax down the drain! Use an old can or something heatproof to dispose of the wax.

These make lovely gifts and also look very pretty grouped together in all sizes to use at a dinner party for a centerpiece.

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