Bank Your DIY Holiday Gift Game with..
Beeswax Coconut Candles

One of these days I will finally sort through my reflections from hiking Sahale Arm and seeing a Glacier up close, or adventures in the Catskill Mountains of New York, but in the mean time, this:

The days are getting shorter, the weather’s getting crisper early in the morning. School supply ads reign supreme on live television between sports games. Before you know it, it’ll be Fall, and then Winter, and you might find yourself scrambling to put together a gift for that office party exchange, or family get-together where everyone draws a number from a hat. Well..


Do you have lots of leftover expired coconut oil?

No no, I mean LOTS.

Do you have a weakness for collecting empty containers your spouse/housemate/talking cat keeps suggesting you recycle, but perhaps they are the classy-looking “biscuit” tins you brought back from London last November, and they make you nostalgic for your travels to the the land of tea time, so you keep saying you’ll make candles with them?

Primary inspiration from internet research:
I did some other research on soy wax, and paraffin wax and decided beeswax was my preferred option, as I try to avoid ingesting processed soy for myself and paraffin is a petroleum byproduct, so it strikes me as a little odd to be breathing either in. See citations at bottom of post for more. Mad props to my co-conspirator Jillian who balanced out my OCD-craziness with wingin’ it like a boss, plus ensuring I didn’t burn my house down in the process somehow.
Amass your supplies, pioneer!
Amass your supplies, pioneer!

Ingredients:

– 1 lb beeswax pellets
– 1 lb coconut oil (use a postage or kitchen scale to measure same amounts)
– 100 pack medium 8 inch wicks (check the diameter of your tins to match wick thickness)

Tools (the more disposable, the better the cleanup):
– optional: chopsticks
improperly sized recyclable aluminum tray, or other container to melt wax atop double boiler in
– a makeshift double boiler setup that will fit the tin. You can use a large tin can, washed for reuse. A big tomatoes can can be good. If you use a tin can, careful handling when hot. If you want, you can also buy a metal cup with handle for candle-making, but why?
– pens, pencils, or other utensils (same amount as the number of tins you have to fill)
– oven mitts
– tin foil
– optional: various essential oils for scents (I used lemongrass for one, vanilla extract for another)

Makes: 2 medium candles in biscuit tins

Pre-prep your candle tins thus: with wicks wrapped around pencils or pens (see below).

Pre-prep your candle tins thus: with wicks wrapped around pencils or pens.Steps:
1. Put together a make-shift double boiler, get the water to boilin’.
Spare your counters! Line with tin foil (Jillian is a genius!)
2. Place your beeswax in the disposable tray atop double boiler, with a 1/2 to 1 cup water in the top boiler to help transfer heat.
3. Melt down beeswax (careful! it could just evaporate if you don’t act quick after melting). I did this intermediate step pictured, so you didn’t have to:

Melting beeswax with bits of coconut oil mixed in, take 1.
Do NOT do this option: melting beeswax with bits of coconut oil mixed in, take 1.
Melting beeswax with bits of coconut oil mixed in, take 2 (with a tin can).
DO do this option: melting beeswax with bits of coconut oil mixed in, take 2 (with a tin can).

4. Wrap top of wick around a pencil or other utensil if you didn’t already.
5. When wax is almost melted, secure bottom of wick to bottom of candle receptacle by dipping quickly in wax, then using a stick to push the metal stay on the bottom until solid, set the pencil over the top of receptacle.
6. Pour a half inch of wax into bottom of receptacle, let it cool some to help the wick stay down.
If you want less of a mess, you can get a chopstick (or similar tool) to help guide the wax as you pour it. This is a good time to stir in some essential oil scents if you want some. To cool faster, put in fridge.

Candle topped off with more wax.
Candle topped off with more wax.
View of a candle, just poured partway.
View of a candle, just poured partway.

7. Pour the rest in, let candle cool for a day. If you are impatient, you can put it in the fridge. Marvel at how you are now making hobby of what people used to do out of necessity.

Candles snug in the fridge, cooling down after a halfway pour to anchor the wicks.
Cozy l’il biscuit tins, chillin’ in der fridge.

Friendly Reminder: Do not pour waxy water down your drain! For any wax that’s snuck into your hot water, remove the solids as they cool (like fat off of chicken stock), then pour the mixture into a container lined with paper towel to get the rest. This will both spare your drainage system, and also save you on wax that you can reuse. How economical.

Novelty Rating: 5 of 5, novelty makes my house smell GOOD, in this case. 🙂
Likelihood of Repeat: 50% depending on what my friend Jillian wants to do, and if I manage to hang on to more tins before impulsively throwing them out in some fit of Konmari method practice.
Lesson(s) Learned:
(1)Small container of wax mixture in double boiler = more frequent rounds of measure-melt-pour, but bonus: faster learning through more iterations. 1 lb beeswax is not really that much, it turns out.

(2) Next time: use giant can (tomatoes?) or buy smaller tin pan
(3) You can remelt down leakage in pan to make more candles.
(4) WARNING: Ironically, this activity may lead to more excessive tin-container-saving, including crappy ones for melting wax in.
(5) Candle-making is more fun with two people, and then you can have one pouring the wax and the other guiding it.

Other Inspiration/Citations:

Your homework is now to go try this smoke bomb cocktail, take a video, and report back, please.

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