At day camp. our Cadettes spent an afternoon making candles at the campfire. We joked that we had a “fun with wax” theme this week. The girls had made emergency candles from Altoid box tins earlier that week and then made both hand-dipped and molded candles to take home.
Melting Wax Over the Campfire
Make sure when you are melting wax that you set up a double boiler. That can be as simple as an empty coffee can in an old stockpot (note: you will get wax drips in the stockpot, so make sure it’s an old one!)
You’ll want several inches of water in your stockpot. Add a block of wax in your coffee can as well as any crayons for tinting. (Wax typically is sold as a clear/white block.) Put the stock pot with the coffee can inside over a grate over a low fire. Keep watch to make sure you do not boil out the water or accidentally catch the wax on fire.
When the wax is melted, pull the container off the heat to begin dipping candles or making molded candles.
Making Hand-Dipped Candles
For handmade dipped candles, you will need wicks as well as nuts to weigh down the wicks to keep it in a straight line.
Cut the wicks to more than double the desired length. Tie a nut to the each end of the wick. Make a temporary “handle” of 2-3 inches of masking take to hold the candles as you dip them.
Hand dipping candles is a lengthy process, and it’s easy to feel like you’re not getting anywhere fast at first.
You’ll want to dip the candle wick quickly in and out of the hot wax. Each dip will leave a thin coat of wax on the wick. You’ll want to wait for a short time for that layer to cool before dipping the candle back in the wax. If you’re not patient, the candle can melt off, and you’ll have to start anew!
We had the girls walk around the table, taking turns between dipping layers.
The best part was they started singing songs – everything from traditional camp songs to the ABCs!
Continue dipping until your candle is to the desired thickness. Hang on a clothesline to cool, then cut off the tape, as well as the nut at the bottom of your candle.
Making Molded Candles
An easy way to make molded candles over a campfire is to melt the wax (adding in crayons for color), then putting the wicks and the melted wax into a silicone mold. We had tried making molded candles in both metal cupcake pans and a silicone pan, and the silicone pan was far easier to remove the candles.
We had purchased a trefoil shaped cupcake pan from our council shop, but you can find a number of silicone pans in a variety of shapes at a less expensive cost on Amazon. Here are some creative alternatives to the round cupcake shape:
You can buy wicks in bulk – I recommend curling each piece at the bottom to encourage it to stay upright – or you can also buy precut wicks with metal anchors at the bottom.
Happy candle making!
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