Candles are great fun to make, and a few candle making materials and supplies are all that is required to start this enjoyable craft.
Candles are one of the most traditional forms of light. Throughout history, candles have been used by people in different countries to bring light into the home. Today, the use of candles is more for decorative purposes. However, no one can deny the wonderful atmospheric light that a well-placed candle can generate.
Traditionally candles were made from a wax or oil, with a wick made from string or something similar. People would have used what ever materials they had at hand or were common in their country. Today, the craft of candle making has resulted in many new and innovative materials being introduced. This means that candle makers are able to create wonderful works of art in different colors, with various fragrances and in unusual and magnificent shapes. Whether you want to make prayer candles, floating candles or any number of other types or styles of candle, there are certainly a wide range of options.
The Basic Candle Making Materials
The basic materials required to make candles are wax, wicks, color and fragrance, and molds or containers.
At one time, most candles were made from beeswax. Beeswax has a wonderful and distinctive smell and is relatively easy to use. It makes fantastic rustic looking candles as well as more sophisticated designs. Other candle making substances available include:
- Paraffin: This is the most common type of wax used in candles today. It can be purchased by the block or in pellet form. Paraffin wax can be hard and suitable for pillar candles or as a softer wax which is used in container candles. Paraffin wax is easy to heat and gives a good consistent result.
- Gel: Gel is extremely popular for making candles. The gel is simply melted and then color and fragrance is added. The translucent nature of gel means that a whole range of objects can be set within the candle. This gives a different dimension to the candle. Sea scenes using shells are particularly popular. Many free gel candle making guides can be found that will help when making these candles.
- Vegetable Wax: Vegetable waxes such as soy are becoming more widely available and are a good 'vegan' alternative to other waxes. This wax is typically sold in grains that are melted and poured into molds. This wax is relatively easy to use and has some interesting characteristics.
Literally at the heart of the candle, the wick is what causes the candle to burn. While a wick may appear to be a simple piece of string in the center of the candle, much research has gone on into the development of 'new generation' wicks. These wicks have special characteristics that make the burning of a candle more consistent.Wicks can be purchased either in long lengths for cutting to the required size later or in precut sizes. Some wicks come pre waxed which gives them a little more body to stand up in a mold. Precut wicks are normally found in a few standard sizes - 3 inch, 6 inch and 12 inch. However, these can easily be cut to size if needed.
Color and Fragrance
One of the joys of making candles is customizing a basic candle by adding color and fragrance. It is possible to buy specially developed colors and fragrances from candle making materials stores. These will have been developed to withstand the hot burning temperatures of a candle.
Molds or Containers
A few basic molds or containers are required to make great candles. Molds can be found that have been developed for candles and these are available in a wide range of sizes and shapes. Containers are necessary to make container candles. These can be purchased and it is also possible to recycle containers from used container candles.
Other Essential Equipment
There are a few pieces of essential equipment required to make candles. The most important of these is a melting pot to heat and melt the wax. It is possible to use items of old kitchen equipment such as a ban marie. However, purpose built equipment will help to ensure consistent results.
Many candle supply stores will be able to offer good advice for beginners as to the best materials and equipment to start with to ensure safe candle making. There are also many great free online candle recipes and projects to help provide some extra inspiration!