Thursday, July 22, 2010

When I was a young thing, we made candles.  Taper candles.  It is a fun process, most definitely, and a worthwhile activity for youngsters.  (We used paraffin wax, which does not burn if it is touched by curious fingers.  It is definitely hot, but no harm done.)  Recently I got it into my head that I should use my old skills and make some candles, but also do the wicks by hand.  So two days ago I got out the wax and cotton, and had some fun.  Here are the results:

I think they look rather classy hanging off of my monitor.  (Maybe not so classy, but it was a convenient place to put them while I looked for a permanent home.)  The candles on the left were made with green cotton yarn (Puffy stuff that is wrapped with thread.) and the ones on the right were made with white string that had been made into a rope.  The ones on the right turned out to be failures.  :/

This was taken yesterday when I decided to move them.  It doesn't take so long for them to cool down, but I prefer not to take any chances with warm wax.  (It does take awhile to make such things, and I have no desire to see them get bent out of shape.)  The green wicked candles are 4.5" long and 0.5" wide, and the shorter ones are 4" long and 0.5" wide

 Size comparison.  (No, my hand isn't huge.) These are very cute and small.

Okay, picture time is over.  Now on to the details of how well they've worked.  First, the mistakes.

I said the ones on the right were failures.  I made the error of using leftover string from bags of cat litter, since they rarely have a use for me and this was only experimental.  They seemed very cottonish and I was fooled.  Please be warned:  Never trust unsourced fibers.  I will try this with cotton thread later, but my intuition tells me that it was the fiber.  (Have you ever seen thread melt?  The flame leaps up and the fiber doubles over like a sick person.  Natural fibers don't do that.)

The candles on the left work rather well.  I'll have to find a better container for the wax - one that is tall but narrow.  A short and narrow can leads to the problem of diminishing wax, which means that the top of th candles taper slowly, rather than quickly.  This means that when the wick is first starting to burn, it burns very quickly and the flame is uneven.  Not very pleasant.  once it settled down, however, the burn was very nice.

In all, these candles burn nicely once they get started.  Once I have a taller wax container, these should burn much more evenly.  They will also be great for people who want to let a candle burn itself out, for whatever reason they may do so.