July 4, 2011

Summertime Is Bloggy Time - Candle Scandal

Greetings! I've spent lots of time over the winter on creating fun new creative projects, I just couldn't manage to get them up on the web. So here's a start to it.

For one of my projects this winter, I decided I needed to maximize the life out of a candle I received as a gift from one of my friends. You see, I've always loved candles, but I have this hesitation to use them because I want them to last forever. Call me a bit of a candle hoarder. When I was younger, I would take any wax that had dripped off of a candle and stick it back in the still-burning flame to make sure I got every single bit of mileage out of it. Walk around my place, and you'll see little collections of candles everywhere - most started, but sitting dormant for years at a time.

So you can imagine my surprise and excitement when I finally made it to the bottom of this deliciously citrusy hunk of wax. This square Jo Malone candle was huge - about 5"x5" but had finally burned down to the very bottom. It is one of the first candles I've finished on my own - quite a feat considering its size and the fact that I never finish even the smallest votives. Now its empty shell was just sitting on my fireplace mantle collecting dust since it only had one wick - the thing probably had more than a third of its wax left even after it was done! Maybe I should send a note to the good folks at Jo Malone to help them rectify that.

So, being the little saver that I am, I decided to melt down the wax from the remainder of the candle and turn it into several smaller candles. I had several small vases I had received from two friends' wedding that needed to be put to good use, so I decided they would make good votive containers. I used kitchen twine to create the wicks. Never mind that you're supposed to do all this prep work to make an effective wick; I wanted to get this project done TODAY, so I just used the wicks as-is. Sure, they might not be totally straight, but whatever.

Meanwhile, I stuck the big hunk of wax into a smaller pot and boiled a pot of water underneath it. Instant double boiler! I didn't have the patience / courage to chop the giant block of wax into chunks, so I just left it in a chunk waited for it to melt.


Almost half an hour later, everything had melted, it was time to put the wax in its new vessels. I didn't really think through how I was going to get the melted wax into the vases, so I just had to wing it. Suffice it to say that using something that has a spout to pour, or at least a narrower mouth would have been better. Wax everywhere on the counter and placemats I had laid out, down the side of pot, on my hands, all over the vases.

But finally, all the wax was in the vases. Time to let it cool! This is where the project ends, right? Well, that lack of wick preparation finally caught up to me. The string was waving around like no one's business, creating a snakelike line through the wax. I kept trying to readjust their paths, but it was too late.

Also, It turns out that wax contracts when it cools, so I ended up with a strange hollow shape for the candles. The wax clung to the sides of the vases and the wick, but left a nice bundt-cake style gap in between. Oops.

If I were to do this again, I would figure out how to do this in two halves instead of pouring all at once. I tried to take little bits of wax that I had to peel off of my placemats and stick them into the gaps, but it doesn't really fill much of the space. So now, every time I start a new candle, I have to take it outside for a little starter burn. Since the wick is effectively too long for the amount of wax, I have to let it burn then trim, burn then trim... At least I get to spend a little time outside bathed in warm (and great-smelling) candlelight, right?

Materials used in this project:
  • Kitchen twine
  • Glass vases
  • Chopsticks
  • Double boiler (also known as two pots)
  • A steady hand so you don't pour wax all over yourself

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