Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tutorial Tuesday - Votive Candles

Periodically on Tuesday's we will feature a tutorial by one of our team members. Remember the The Funky Felter's (Shalana) tutorial on making your own lightbox? Today's Tuesday Tutorial is from A.J. of AJ's Country Cottage. We've featured many of her amazing candles and artisan soaps before, and she's graciously sent in this how-to for making votive candles. When you give this a try, we'd love to see pictures of your completed project.

Thanks AJ!

Making Votive Candles by A.J. Smith of AJ’s Country Cottage

What you will need:

Double Boiler
Four votive wick pins (optional)
Kitchen Thermometer
Craft sticks
Kitchen Scale
1/2 lb. paraffin votive/pillar wax of your choice
1/2 oz. candle fragrance oil (optional)
Paper towel
Candle dye (optional)
Small glass container
Four 36-24-24 zinc core wick assemblies (pre-tabbed)
Small candle pouring pot or clean, empty coffee can
Four 2-ounce (15 hour) votive molds
Candle mold release (if using new votive molds and/or new wick pins)

Step 1: On your scale, weigh out ½ lb. of the wax and put into your melting pot or coffee can. Always weigh your wax when making candles. If using a coffee can, bend a small pouring spout into the top first.

Step 2: (Optional) Weigh out ½ oz. of candle making fragrance oil into a small glass container and set aside. Always weigh your fragrance oil when making candles. Do not exceed this amount; the wax will not likely be able to hold excess fragrance oil.

Step 3: If using new votive molds, you may want to spray candle mold release into the cups. Gently wipe excess off with paper towel. If votive molds have been used before, this step is probably not necessary; just make sure the molds are clean of wax residue from previous pours.

Step 4: (Optional) If using wick pins, place these into the molds. If they are new, spray them with candle mold release and wipe off excess with paper towel before inserting into molds.

Step 5: Cover your work surface with newspapers in case of spills. Place prepared votive cups onto the newspaper. Keep paper towels handy for wiping up spills and drips.

Step 6: Place water in double boiler and set wax pot gently into water to melt. IMPORTANT: DO NOT LEAVE MELTING WAX UNATTENDED! Watch it VERY CAREFULLY; wax can heat to dangerously high temperatures in a short amount of time. Once you have a little liquefied wax in the top of the pot, place the candy thermometer into the melted wax, taking care that the bulb is not touching the melting pot. Heat wax to 175-180 degrees F, taking care that no water from the double boiler splashes into the melting wax.

Step 7: If you’re using a coffee can, use pot holders for this step! Remove melted wax from heat and place on heat-safe surface. With your wooden craft stick, stir fragrance oil thoroughly into melted wax. Take care not to agitate so much that you are adding lots of air bubbles to the wax. Always add fragrance oil

BEFORE adding color so that you can see that the oil is fully incorporated before the dye obscures your clear view.

Step 8: (Optional) Add a drop of liquid candle dye or a candle dye chip, if desired. Stir gently but thoroughly with your stick until color is uniform.

Step 9: Have paper towels handy for drips and spills. Pour wax carefully into molds all the way to the tip top. Avoid incorporating air into the molds while pouring. You will notice that not all the wax in your pouring pot will be used; this is what you want. You want to reserve a small amount of wax (about 1/5 of the total) for the second pour, when we will be topping off the candles. (Wax shrinks as it cools, leaving a sunken area in the middle.) Do not touch molds after pouring, as they will be VERY HOT.

Step 10: If not using wick pins, wait a few minutes until the wax is starting to set up (congeal) on the sides of the mold tops. (The time this takes will vary according to the room's temperature.) Now there will be a bit of congealed wax at the bottom of the mold as well, so you can insert your pre-tabbed wicks and they will stay in place. Gently place these wicks into the middle of the votive, securing the wick in the thickened wax at the bottom.

Do not worry about marring the surface of the candle if the wax has a thin skin; we will fix that later on the second pour. If not using wick pins, check the wicks periodically as the candle cools; the cooling, shrinking wax may pull wicks slightly off center. Just gently push them back into place if needed. Sometimes I use craft sticks on top the molds to keep the wick more centered as the candle cools.

Step 11: When the candles have completely cooled, it’s time to re-melt your leftover wax. This time you want to heat to a temperature of 185-190 degrees F in your double boiler. Pouring about 10 degrees hotter the second time will ensure your layers will adhere and not come apart when the candles are fully cooled. Again, pour to the tip top to ensure you don’t have seam lines where the two layers meet.

Step 12: When candles are completely cooled, they should readily slide from the molds. If using wick pins, I gently tug those straight up and out of the mold to release the candle. If your candles refuse to release, chances are they are not fully and completely cooled. If they are fully cool and won’t budge, try putting the mold into the freezer for a short time. (Just a few minutes though, or the candle may crack.) This brief freezer time usually does the trick. If using wick pins, remove wick pins and insert wick assembly from the bottom of the candle.

Step 13: If there are surface irregularities on the candles, you may want to buff gently with pantyhose.

Step 14: Trim your wicks and enjoy burning your votives! If you used scent, you may want to wait a day or two for the candle to cure. Remember, votives are not meant to be free-standing candles. They are meant to completely liquefy and must be burned in a snug votive holder. They should burn completely up (or nearly so) and take about 15 hours to finish burning.

Meet AJ and learn about her creative process by reading her artist spotlight. **

1 comment:

Kate said...

My daughter wants to try this so badly ... looks like we'll be making a trip to the craft store. Thanks for sharing AJ!