Mother Earth Living

DIY: How To Make Herb-Infused Candles

By The Herb Companion staff
October/November 1994
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Materials

• Candle wax
• Stearic acid (optional)
• Molds
• Cloth
• Nonstick cooking spray
• Crayons or wax color buds
• Essential oils or candle scent (optional)
• Wicking of a size appropriate to your molds
• Candy thermometer
• Electric deep fryer or slow cooker or a double boiler (coffee can for wax, set into a larger pan of water)
• Ice pick or knitting needle

About The Materials

Candle waxes are available with different melting points and optimum pouring temperatures; follow the directions that come with the wax you buy. The pouring temperature for most paraffin is between 170° and 190°F. Stearic acid acts as a hardening agent, which is important for dipped tapers but less so for molded candles; adding up to 2 tablespoons per pound of wax will produce a candle that drips less.

Metal and plastic candle molds are relatively inexpensive, but you may also use containers that you find around the house, such as milk cartons and bowls. Secondhand candle molds can often be found at garage sales and flea markets, but avoid metal molds that have dents that would make removing the candle impossible. Crayons are a good, intense source of color for candles, as are the color buds available at craft stores. To judge what your final color will be, drop a teaspoon of the melted wax into a saucepan of cold water. It will set immediately. The color of the sample will be slightly lighter and less opaque than that of the finished candle.

Wax that comes into contact with an open flame can flash into fire. Using a double boiler (or improvising one from a coffee can in a saucepan of water) to eliminate this danger is a standard precaution, but we received another sensible recommendation from Jean Miles, of Candlecraft Designs, a professional candle maker in Fort Collins, Colorado: buy a used electric deep fryer or slow cooker at a garage sale or flea market. Jean uses hers for candles she makes at home and for candle-making demonstrations. Because the heating element is enclosed, there is less risk of wax catching fire. Choose an appliance that has a variable heating control, she says, not just a high-low setting. But whether you use a double boiler or an electric fryer, you still need a thermometer to determine when the wax reaches pouring temperature.

Instructions 

1. Prepare each mold by wiping the inside with a cloth that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray; this will ensure that the candle comes out of the mold easily. (If you are using containers such as milk cartons that can be peeled off, skip this step.) Place the wicking securely in the mold. If using a milk carton, coat the wicking with wax so that it dries straight, then wrap the end around a pencil laid across the top of the carton and let the wick hang down in the center of the candle.2.

2. Melt the wax (and stearic acid and crayon or wax color buds, if desired) and stir. Bring it to the recommended pouring temperature, add scent if desired, and stir again. Pour the wax into the mold to the desired height. As the wax cools, the top (which becomes the bottom of the finished candle when you use a commercial mold) will shrink and develop a hollow. With an ice pick or knitting needle, poke through the surface a few times to eliminate any air pockets, then fill the depression with more wax. You may need to repeat this step several times, depending on the size of your candle, to level off the top.

3. Leave the candle in the mold for twelve to twenty-four hours to cool and harden completely before removing it.


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