Chocolate and teddy bears are cute and fine, but try for something more imaginative and romantic this February. Bring a little creativity and thought into the upcoming Valentine’s Day by giving out homemade scented candles. To incorporate some originality into your gifts, follow these easy steps to make scented candles for that romantic dinner or picnic.
Making candles calls for paraffin wax (the brand Gulf Wax is in most grocery stores), a metal pot with a handle, a wax thermometer, candle wicking and a mold with which to shape the candle. For a little flair to the candle, also buy liquid color or solid pigment chip to give the candle color.
All of the above ingredients can be purchased at a hobby shop at reasonable, recession-sensitive prices, so no need to assassinate that piggy bank! Wal-Mart supplies many of these ingredients as well, and a large variety of candle molds can be found for cheapish at the online auction site www.ebay.com.
If local stores have none or very few of the necessary materials, the site www.lonestarcandlesupply.com sells overpriced candle-making supplies.
Making candles requires melting wax, which requires heat. Wax can get messy, so it is ideal to brew candles over an easy-to-clean heat source, like hot plates or electric stoves. Regular stoves work just fine also.
An average pillar candle requires roughly a pound of wax. First, place the wax in a pouring pot with a thermometer strapped to the side. Wax catches fire at around 375 degrees Fahrenheit, so it is best not to let the wax heat over 300 degrees, lest the kitchen burns down, the cat and your sister die in the fire, Mom gets pissy, etcetera etcetera and it’s a bad day for everyone. So don’t overheat the wax.
Next, add color to the wax and stir. Color comes in liquid, powder or solid form. The pigment chip is recommended, since it is the most effective in coloring. For a solid color, one diamond chip or one-fourth of a solid color block is enough. Light pastel colors only need half of that amount. Stir with any utensil or simply slosh the liquid and color around in the pot (while being mindful not to spill all over yourself, of course).
The scent should be added after the color is mixed in. To give the candle a strong fragrance, one ounce of liquid scent is enough. Solid scents should have instructions on the package for measuring out enough scent for one pound of wax. A softer, more subtle scent only needs a fraction of that amount.
Vanilla and lavender are the conventional scents and both of them are safe bets. For the more daring candle makers, the site www.scentit.com offers hundreds of scents from flowers and seasons to even food aromas like brownie or butter rum.
After stirring in the scent, attach the wick to the mold. Some models of molds have wick holds at the bottom, in which case the wick should be affixed to the hole according to the directions that come with the mold. Other molds have instead some type of adhesive to hold the wick in place.
Once the wick is in place, tie the top of the wick around a spoon or stick or something weighty to keep the wick straight. Crooked wicks may subject candle makers to relentless teasing or humiliation.
Slowly and carefully pour the wax into the mold so that fewer air bubbles will form in the mold. Makers should be extremely careful not to touch the hot liquid wax, unless they want first degree burn scars, in which case yes, please do stick a finger in hot liquid wax.
Wiping off spilled wax with a towel ruins the towel, as wax does not wash out of fabric. Instead, use paper towels or something dispensable to clean up.
Then, gently tap the mold to release air bubbles. Leaving some extra wax in the pot is a good idea, in case the candle hardens unevenly and more wax needs to be added to the mold to smooth out the shape.
Let the wax cool. Depending on the size of the mold, this may take from a few hours to a day. When the wax is thoroughly hardened and cooled, slide it out. The wick should stick out at both ends. Cut any one end off and the candle is finished! Feel free to show it off, because bragging rights come with the completion of this candle. Have fun gifting and smelling!