In the northern hemisphere, we’re entering the darkest part of the year. With the winter solstice only a few weeks away, we’re burning a lot more candles. Candle-light completely transforms the vibe of a room. From romantic and mysterious to cosy and safe, the flicker of a candlelight creates an aura no lamp can achieve.
We’ve been burning candles for a long time; the Egyptians were probably the first to use them in 3,000 BC. Nowadays, candles come in all shapes, sizes and smells. They’re cheap and readily available. But you might be surprised to learn that a lot of commercial candles can be detrimental for the environment and our health.
They’re made from paraffin, derived from unsustainable fossil fuels, and release toxic fumes when burned. If possible and feasible, paraffin candles should be avoided and luckily there are plenty of sustainable, non-toxic alternatives.
This guide will show you to how to make your own natural, eco-friendly candles.
Choosing your wax
First things first, you need to choose the type of candle wax that suits you the best. Now there are many kinds as you might’ve guessed, ranging from the mentioned sub-optimal paraffin to more expensive yet more eco-friendly beeswax.
Here below are three great picks, namely beeswax, soy wax and coconut wax.
- Beeswax is a lovely, clean, natural wax. It’s a soft yellow colour and is naturally honey-scented. It’s sustainable and biodegradable so it’s a great choice for the environment. It’s got a long burning time too. However, it doesn’t hold scent as well as other waxes and as it’s not vegan, it won’t be suitable for everyone.
- Soy wax is another popular choice. It’s made from vegetable oil so it’s natural and slow burning. Soy is quite controversial however, given its unsustainable farming methods.
- Coconut wax is perhaps the most sustainable and eco-friendly choice available. It’s pure, natural, slow burning and holds scents well. Drawbacks include its low melting point which means it may need to be mixed with another wax. It’s also a more expensive option.
Choosing the wick
When choosing the candle wick, opt for organic cotton or hemp wicks as standard cotton wicks are sometimes treated with toxic chemicals. Another choice is wooden wicks. They (softwood wicks) make a lovely crackling sound when they’re burning – just like a real log fire!
A couple of other, more specific things to potentially keep in mind when choosing the right wick for your candles are,
- the diameter of the wick, which is responsible for the size and duration of the flame,
- stiffness of the wick, which regulates the steadiness of the flame
- tethering, which most often refers to the wicks tethering to a wick tab at the bottom of the candle.
Choosing scents and colors
You can combine different essential oils to create your favourite scents. Or simply leave unscented. We love creating candles which capture the spirit of the changing seasons.
You can also use botanicals such as leaves, petals, flowers and dried orange slices to garnish the top of your candle:
- Winter spice: Cinnamon, sweet orange, clove, pine needle.
- Spring garden: Geranium, lavender, ylang-ylang, patchouli.
- Summer sunshine: Orange, lemongrass, peppermint, grapefruit.
- Autumn leaves: Cinnamon, bergamot, cardamom, nutmeg.
Picking your containers
You can use any container to hold a candle, as long as it’s heatproof and won’t crack when you pour in the hot wax. Some of our favourite container ideas include
- Repurposed glass jars or old candle jars
- Mason jars
- Plant pots
- Vintage teacups and china
- Ice-cube trays (for mini tea lights)
- 1 lb pure beeswax (or wax of your choice)
- ½ cup unrefined coconut oil
- Essential oils
- Metal wick fastening tabs
- Sticky tape
- Empty containers
- Large, heat-proof bowl
- Measuring jug / pitcher
Candle Making Kit by Dingpai
To help you jump-start your own candle making project, this candle making kit by Dingpai has many of the above-mentioned needed things. For merely $20 you’ll get
- One pouring pot made of stainless steel with a capacity of 31oz or 900ml
- Eco friendly cotton wicks. Measuring 5.1 inches in length (50 pieces)
- 2x metal candle tins
- 2x 3-hole candle wick holders used to center the wick in the wax and container
- 1x spoon made of stainless steel
This recipe makes approximately 2 medium-sized candles. You can swap the beeswax for the wax of your choice.
- Empty the beeswax into the large heat-proof bowl. Add in ½ cup of coconut oil and mix together.
- Place the bowl over a boiling saucepan and allow the wax to melt on the stove.
- While the beeswax and coconut oil is melting, it’s time to prepare the wicks. Thread the wick through the metal sustainer tabs. Use the pliers or back of the scissors to tighten the wick and tab together.
- Attach a fold of sticky tape to the bottom of the metal tab and stick it to the bottom of the jar. Use the pencil to secure it down. This stabilises the wick and ensures it won’t float to the top when you pour the candle wax in later.
- When the beeswax is melted, pour in your blend of essential oils. Because beeswax doesn’t hold scent as well as other waxes, use about 25 drops (1ml) for every 1oz of beeswax. Stir thoroughly.
- Pour the liquid carefully into your containers. Wrap the wick round the pencil to keep it upright while the wax dries.
- If you want the botanicals to disperse into your wax, go ahead and add them now while the wax is still hot. Or wait until the wax has cooled before garnishing your natural candle with toppings.
- When the candle has completely cooled, trim the wick.
- And there you have it! You’ve just made a beautiful, natural and eco-friendly candle, ready to burn all winter long.
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