Candle Making Basics - Part 2
This week I'll be discussing molds and
giving step by step instructions for a basic molded candle.
In case you missed it you may want to read last week's
feature Candle Making Basics - Part 1.
As always, safety is our primary concern and you should
know these safety rules before proceeding.
There are a huge variety of commercial molds on the market,
as well as an almost infinite number of everyday items that
make good molds. The instructions that follow will be for
using a standard commercial mold, in other words a mold that
makes the candle upside down. My personal recommendation is
to get a one piece metal mold as these tend to be the
easiest and most durable to use. Here is a basic rundown of
- Metal Molds - Available in a broad
variety of shapes, these are simple to use and
- Acrylic Molds - Available in a
variety of geometric shapes and sizes. They are easy to
use, but are easily scratched. Use caution as too much
scent may damage these.
- Two Piece Plastic Molds - Available
in a large assortment of novelty shapes. These are more
difficult to use even though most beginners start with
- Rubber Molds - These are available in
latex and vulcanized rubber. Both produce seamless
candles, with the latex requiring a little more effort
to use. Vulcanized molds tend to be expensive.
- Top Up Molds - these are molds that
are used the opposite of most candle molds - with the
top of the mold being the top of the finished candle.
Many floating candle and votive molds are used this way.
These are easy to recognize by their lack of a wick
- Flat Molds - Used to make wax
appliques and hanging ornaments. These generally do not
produce good candles, but do make nice decorations to
embellish your candles with.
When selecting your first mold, try to
keep it simple. Read and familiarize yourself with the mold
manufacturers instructions. The step by step instructions
below are general guidelines for using a metal mold and you
should modify them for your own situation.
Making The Candle
This is the big moment we've
been building up to. All your materials are at hand, so lets
jump right in.
Put enough wax in your
melting pot to fill your mold. If you don't have a scale to
use, a good estimate may be made by dividing the slab into
even sections. For example divide an 11 pound slab into 11
equal sections to get one pound of wax. Add stearine at the
rate of two - three tablespoons per pound of wax. Start
heating in a double boiler.
While your wax is heating,
apply your mold release (gently - a little goes a long way)
then wick the mold. Follow the manufacturer's instructions
for this. Prepare a water bath by submerging the empty mold
in water and adding water until the level is about one half
inch below the mold top. Take care not to get any water in
your mold or wax - it will ruin your candle. It is easiest
to add a mold weight at this time, typically a piece of lead
wrapped around the base of the mold. A more difficult
alternative is placing a heavy weight atop the filled mold
once it is in the water bath - you must hold it down until
the weight is in place though.
When wax reaches the pouring
temperature (refer to manufacturer's instructions for
optimum pouring temperature), shut the heat and add dye
(optional). Stir until well dissolved. If desired add scent
and stir well immediately before pouring. A word of caution,
excessive dye may cause the candle to burn poorly. Excessive
scent may ruin some plastic molds and / or ruin the finished
candle. Set aside remaining wax for step 5.
Pour the wax into the mold slowly but smoothly. On taller
molds it sometimes helps to tilt the mold to prevent air
bubbles from excessive agitation. Always wear heavy work
gloves when handling molds filled with hot wax - especially
metal molds. Wetting the gloves will give even more
protection if needed. Gently tap the sides of the mold, and
allow 45 seconds for the air bubbles to rise. Place the mold
in the water bath.
Periodically punch one or more holes alongside the wick
using a dowel of other long narrow implement. As the wax
cools it shrinks, and punching holes prevents it from
shrinking away from the wick causing air pockets. the larger
the candle the more times you will need to repeat this. Fill
the void left by shrinkage taking care not to pour above the
original level of the wax. On very large candles, it may be
necessary to repeat this step more than once.
Allow the candle to cure fully before attempting to remove
from the mold. The larger the candle the longer it takes. If
the candle does not easily slide out of the mold, place it
in a refrigerator for five to ten minutes. If you still have
difficulty removing it, place in the freezer for no more
than five minutes. If all else fails heat the mold with hot
water until the candle will come out (this usually ruins the
candle). Never pry or scrape the wax out of the mold.
If refrigeration was used to unmold the candle allow it to
return to room temperature before proceeding. The final step
is to level the base. Place your baking pan atop a pot of
boiling water. Holding the candle by the wick, allow it to
touch the pan until the base is flat and level.
Enjoy your candle. Watch how it burns, and
on your next one adjust your recipe to make it burn better
if necessary. I would also like to remind you to keep an
accurate record of your formula.
I hope this has been useful to you. Next
week I'll discuss making Layered Candles - a beautiful
variation of the standard molded candle, that are only
slightly more difficult to make.