Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Candle Making - Depression Era Style

Here at Camp Ramshackle we love our candle light dinners. One thing that always frustrates me, though, is the 10-20% of unused wax left at the end of each candle. Last December we found a solution through a Christmas white elephant gift exchange.

I was the lucky recipient of a double boiler chocolate making kit which I initially mistook for a fondue set. I never did make my own chocolate treats but I did go to Michael's craft supply and I bought some wick string. Now we put the remnant wax from each candle in the melting pot, when it gets full I melt it and make candles with the wick and a few of the sturdier votive holders we have on hand.

The little aluminum wick holders at the bottom of the candle can be reused by prying open the hole that holds onto the wick. You then slide the new wick through the hole to the right length and trim it. There isn't any need to crimp the aluminum holder - you can simply double the wick about 1/8th of an inch, pinch it, then pull it through snug against the bottom of the holder.

The most important thing to pay attention to is keeping the wick as vertical as possible and centered in the holder. If your wick leans too much it may go out early. If it gets too close to the glass side wall, it can crack the glass or burn the holder. If the wick won't stand on it's own, I fold it over something lain across the top of the holder.

After the wax is poured out, you can save any good wick holders you may need and recycle the rest.

Our candles come out a "dusky rose" color (ok, "vomit" for those of the "half empty" perspective) due to a scented red candle that came into our house last winter. The scent has diminished to a pleasant level now and the tint just keeps getting better as it fades.

I have gotten this down to about 20 min start to finish with a large part of that time devoted to waiting for the wax to melt. Recession? Depression? I say bring it on! Soon I'll be writing about my ball of saved string.


  1. Thanks for showing how to do this. I've got so many candle stubs lying around that I can't bear to throw out.

  2. I don't have a double-boiler I want to designate as "for craft use only", so what I do is use an upside-down tuna can (with holes punched in the bottom) and then set a larger steel or tin can, like that from canned green beans or tomatoes, on top. Then, I add wax stubs to the larger can, and then add water around the cans (water will flow into the tuna can, which is good). To pour the wax I just use some metal salad tongs to grasp the can.

  3. I remember doing this as a kid after seeing a man dipping candles at a craft show. Setting a kitchen on fire is one heck of a lesson on why it's so important to use a double boiler. Didn't stop me from making candles again though. I have a whole setup and thanks to your post I think I'll go and blow the dust off and recycle some of the stubs in the box under the sink.


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