It's Boxing Day (50 points if you can explain why on earth it's called Boxing Day?!) so you're probably full of leftover turkey and condiments. I never knew we owned so many. Sell-by dates aside, there were a good 15 jars on the table and we emptied 4!
Rather than filling up your recycling bin full of glass and the lingering smell of piccalilli, save your jars, give them a good scrub and follow this tutorial! I used these scented soy wax candles as gifts for people this Christmas, and they went down a treat! I did a test batch in November, which I highly recommend, as depending on the scent you're aiming for you want to do a bit of trial and error to make sure they burn properly and smell just right. More of that later though!
I am a self-confessed scented candle addict. Yankee Candle is usually my gig, but I found myself burning through their votives so quickly that they weren't lasting very long at all. Also, did anyone watch that episode of 'The Apprentice' where they made candles and think 'how can they have screwed up that much?! It looks so simple!' Well, I was right because it really is simple, and if you build up a little collection of essential oils you can create a candle at your whim specifically themed around the favourite scents of your favourite people.
You will need:
- Glass jars, either old jam jars or bought ones with the lid. 500ml jars make large candles, 300g jars make medium sized ones. Make sure they have a wide mouth.
- Candle wicks. Make sure they're long enough to stick out of the top.
- Soy wax. 2.5kg will make 7 large candles or 12 medium sized ones.
- Glue dots
- Selection of essential oils. Get as many as you think you'll need. I went a bit overboard and got 15...
- Twine, paint or any other decorative material. I used nail varnish for the lids.
- Sticker paper
Why soy wax?
Soy wax is non-toxic and burns cleaner than paraffin wax (traditional wax). It comes from vegetables, which is a renewable resource, so you're leaving the planet happy as well as supporting the agricultural industry. Also, it is really long lasting. Soy wax burns for aaaaages. One of my large candles has around 100-120 hours of burn time in it. Good, huh?
Before you start, I think it's a good idea to get familiar with your scents so you know which combinations to use. I knew I wanted to do a Christmas themed candle, a beach themed one and a spa themed one.
I perhaps got a little caught up with the naming process, but hey, that part is pretty fun! I decided on:
'Christmas Eve' - (Frankincense, Mulled Wine and Yuletide Spice)
'Trip to the Beach' - (Seaspray and Vanilla)
'Spa Day' - (Eucalyptus and Freshly Cut Grass)
'Orange and Cinnamon' - (an accident... I thought it was going to be Fresh Cotton, but I got the scent bottles mixed up. By the time I realised it was too late. The cabin stunk of Tropicana.)
Before you get melting, fetch your candle wicks and stick them firmly to the bottom of the jar. You'll need about 4 - 5 glue dots to make sure they don't budge, as the hot wax will loosen them a bit.
Next, melt your wax in a pan. I just used a metal pan, but I think there are some fancy wax pans out there. Personally, I don't see the point. It just makes the cleaning part a little more strenuous, but it isn't too much fuss. You'll need a LOT more wax chips in there than you think. I filled a small pan three quarters of the way up to fill two large jars of wax.
It doesn't take long to melt the wax, only about 5 minutes. Have your stove on half heat, and when it has turned a clear, yellow colour you're ready to add your scent.
Now, during the 'test' batch I didn't add enough essential oil. Don't get me wrong, it made the immediate square foot beyond the candle smell lovely, but I wanted a little more range than that. I'd love to give you measurements, but in reality I just kept pouring until it smelt strong enough, which was about three quarters of the bottle from each essential oil I wanted to use. That's around 7ml.
However, frankincense and eucalyptus are especially pungent, so you don't need quite as much of those ones. Basically, just keep adding it bit by bit until it smells just a little stronger than you'd like. Then you've got it just right.
Pour the hot wax into a vessel that has a spout so that you have a little more control! Trust me, I recommend this because I found out the hard way. So. Much. Spilled Wax.
Next, hold your wick and pour the wax in right up to the top.
This next bit is very technical *cough*. Get two pencils or pens, and lay them across the top of your jar with the wick in the middle. It's important to make sure your wick stands right up through the centre of your candle so that it burns evenly all the way down. Use sticky tape to make sure it stays - be warned, this can be fiddly!
Now you have some waiting time. I placed my candles in the fridge to set, just to save a little time. However, they do just as well stood on top of a chest of drawers!
Now you can prepare your decorating bits! I went for Kitch X 1,000 with my approach. Think all the pastel colours and bakers twine. And too much time spent on Pinterest.
After your candles have set, trim your wick to size - just enough so that it will burn.
I used nail polish to decorate my jar lids. I'm sure you could do something more crafty, however I had a train to catch and these were being packed into a suitcase, so it was the best option for me! A hessian cover, paint stencil or patterned material would all look lovely.
Voila! They're simply, but I think they look rather nice!
Decorating the labels is GREAT fun. I don't have any fancy photo editing software, so I use Picmonkey. It's really easy to use and has some great overlays, fonts and textures. It's also an online photo editor, so you can even make labels in your lunch break. Not that I did that of course...
I printed mine out on sticky back paper to make the the process a lot easier! Whack them on your jars, add a little bakers twine, and you're done!
Voila! Making four different types of candle took me around three hours, so if you've got a free afternoon coming up and some birthdays in the near future, get your hands waxy!
I hope the end of 2014 is treating you well and filling you with lovely memories and aspirations to take into 2015.
Christmas is known for it's indulgence, however this often means that our bins get fuller with empty food containers, replaced bedroom knick-knacks get chucked out and old craft items get pushed to the back of the wardrobe.
I'm going to be making an active effort to be thrifty in January, especially through making new things from the old and unloved, and would love to hear your thrifty post-Christmas DIY's that you've either blogged in the past or had ideas for!
Happy candle making!