Dipped beeswax candles

How could you every bring yourself to burn a beeswax statue of an elegant maiden or a nativity scene or cute little duckling? The candles on display at a honey show are gorgeous. The variety of shaped moulded candles are unblemished and perfect. There are small beeswax animal shapes with little wicks sticking out of their head, cubes, stars, trees, fir cones, the ever-popular skep shape and a few large statues.

The category of a set of 3 candles has not one but yes…three… perfectly uniform, matching candles standing tall and straight. Getting one perfect is bad enough but getting three identical..that’s skill.

However, the pinnacle of perfection are the rolled tapered candles. Tall, straight, pale yellow beeswax, smooth, elegant, glorious with the perfect burn. In awe, I drool as I stare at the winning candles. I want to do that. I want to make perfection!

I had heard the winner of one show describe how they had ensured that their beeswax was a perfect pale yellow by spending hours picking out all the darker flakes from the thousands of flakes of capping wax. That is dedication!  Part of me worried that that level of perfectionism was a bit OTT. I put that thought to one side to think about later.

First things first, I needed to learn how to roll candles.  Many months and two candle-making workshops later I had figured that I had garnered enough knowledge and paraphernalia.

Out to my shed I went (not my kitchen!! See my post called Floor wax,) I set up on my solid workshop bench (workbench is thanks to my somewhat shameless character). I carved out a few undisturbed hours and set up my apparatus.

  • Clean block of beeswax (for how this is done see Floor wax)
  • Electric hot plate
  • Saucepan for hot water
  • Tall metal tube for liquid beeswax (a tall polish tin with the top cut off)
  • Cotton wick
  • Metal nuts (bolts not needed)
  • Two glass plates, i.e., 1 glass from and oven door and 1 worktop glass mat (no sharp edges)
  • Scissors
  • Knife
  • Thermometer

I rolled up my sleeves, heated up the wax in the DIY tube/saucepan Bain Marie to just over 60oC (“beeswax has high latent heat, melting point of 62 °C – 65 °C” this quote is from a research article about the most unusual use of beeswax I’ve come across so far – research article that compares the use of Paraffin and Beeswax as heat energy storage in infant incubator . And guess what…beeswax wins! 😊

Oops… sorry, I digressed.

Next, I cut a long length of wick and dipped the wick in the hot wax until the wick stopped bubbling so that the finished candle wouldn’t spit when lit. When the coated wick had cooled I tied the steel nut to one end to weight it. All was looking promising. I held the opposite end in my thumb and finger dangling wick and nut poised over the tube of melted wax and waited for the nut to stop swinging.  Patiently, I waited. I was risking hypnotises as it swung back and over! I will the nut on a string to stop swaying. Beekeeping is teaching me patience. It eventually stops and I dip it slowly in and out of the wax and it came out with a lovely, smooth coat of wax.

 Yipee! First dip done and looking good.

I pause. I wait. I dangle the wannabe candle while it cools. I guess the minute cooling time and dunk the wick again in and out. Hmm…it was then that I discovered a flaw in my plan, I had missed a trick. I have to hold my hand at shoulder height while the wax cools on the wick between each dip. That’s 20 – 25 dips multiplied by 1 min waiting between dips. That’s 25 mins hovering there doing nothing. Ah! The penny dropped. So that’s why the demonstrators had stands with hooks to hold and make several candles at a time. Too late now for me so I stand, hand hovering, and rotate though mindfulness, mind wandering, planning jobs and calling myself a donkey of the first order!

Five dips later I put the candle between the glass plates and with all the finesse I can muster and obviously I look like the masters Making Dipped Candles – Won First Prize  (vid 10.13min). I manage to do my first roll. Then dip again in-out, hover, wait for wax to cool. Dip in-out, hover. Dip in-out, hover. Dip in-out, hover. Dip in-out, hover and finally it’s back to the glass sandwich for the second roll.  Noooo! Horrified and helpless I watch as the warm, tender candle cracks under the gentle pressure I applied to glass!!! I desperately try gluing the candle together with hot wax and continue dipping to cover up the crack but all that does is produce a bump of wax at the brake-point which emphasises it.

I start again, and again and again but failed miserably each time. I sighed and abandoned ship.   

Maybe I should forget the glass rolling and just try regular dipped candles instead as that’s just a case of dip-in and out. How hard can that be?

You guessed it. Deceptively hard!

At least the dipped candles I made were consistent. They all looked like deformed, stumpy carrots!!!

Photo from David Holifield (upsplash)

Ah well, a bit of humility is good for the soul. 

Links and tips

Glass rolled candles Making Dipped Candles – Won First Prize vid 10.3min

Making it look easy Hand Dipped Beeswax Candles vid 1.27min

How To Make Perfect Dipped Beeswax Taper Candles In an old tin can vid 4.05min

Hand dipped candles for beginners – organic looking (not beeswax but same principle)

The Ellot Homestead have a blog post about making dipped beeswax candles, what you need and how to do it.


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