There’s nothing like a candle (or two or seven) for great ambiance. But did you know that most regular candles release toxins into the air? It’s true.
In my former life I adored scented candles. I even worked as a manager of a notable home decor chain store with an entire section of scented candles with names like Ocean, Rain, Vanilla Creme, Sugar Plum, and the like. They came in all varieties from tea lights to huge pillar candles. We made candlescapes with all manner of candle holders, rocks and gems. It was serious stuff.
Fast forward to today: I now know that while my formerly cherished candles may have added ambiance to my home decor, they also added serious air pollution. We’re talking carcinogens, toxic chemicals, and heavy metals. Read more about that here and here.
What’s a crunchy candle-loving girl to do?
- Diffuse essential oils.
- Burn beeswax candles.
Diffusing essential oils is a fantastic way to scent your home while also enjoying therapeutic benefits from the oils. Find a few of my favorite diffuser blends here.
And guess what I’ve learned about burning beeswax candles? It actually purifies the air. Apparently burning beeswax candles can even help with respiratory conditions such as asthma and allergies. Fascinating, right? Read more about that here and here.
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How to Make Beeswax Candles
You will need:
100% Pure Beeswax — I used a little over 2 pounds and filled six 8-oz jars and one 4-oz jar. Pastilles are easiest to work with and melt the fastest; blocks are fine, too, but take much longer to melt. My favorite sources are Mt. Rose Herbs and Made On Skin Care, but you could also order from Amazon.
Coconut Oil — According to Cara from Health, Home, & Happiness, adding palm oil to the beeswax will prevent the candle from burning too hot and possibly cracking the jar. Cara recommends 50% beeswax / 50% palm oil. Heather from Mommypotamus uses coconut oil, which is something I always have on hand. She recommends about 1 cup coconut oil to 1.5 pounds beeswax. Purchase palm oil here. Click here for my favorite coconut oil source.
Candle wicks — Be sure to find metal-free wicks.
Pencils, dowels, or skewers — To hold the wicks in place while the candle hardens.
Double boiler — I used my 8-cup glass Pyrex measuring cup with a handle, resting inside a large pot of boiling water.
1. Melt beeswax.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then insert Pyrex measuring cup (or a smaller dedicated pot). Add beeswax to the measuring cup and wait for it to melt completely.
Alternatively, you can melt your beeswax in the oven. Simply place the beeswax in an oven proof dish and melt for about 20 minutes at 350°.
2. Melt coconut (or palm) oil.
Add your oil of choice to the double boiler or oven proof dish and continue heating until fully melted.
3. Prepare jars and wicks.
While the wax and oil are melting, place the wicks in the jars and tie the tops around a pencil or dowel rod to keep them in place.
4. Set the wicks.
Have an extra pencil or dowel rod available for this step. Center the metal wick clip in the bottom of the jar, and pour in just a bit of hot wax. Quickly use the eraser end of a pencil, or an extra dowel rod to press the wick down into the center of the jar. Wait a minute or so for the wax to harden.
5. Pour the candles.
Fill each jar with wax, taking care to keep the wick centered and straight.
6. Allow candles to harden.
Leave the candles to harden for about 24 hours or overnight.
7. Trim the wicks.
Trim wicks to about 1/4 inch. Heather recommends allowing the candles to cure for an additional 24 hours before burning, which I did just to be safe. Others say you can go ahead and enjoy your candle as soon as it hardens.
8. Enjoy your nontoxic, air purifying, homemade candle!
I’m burning one right now as I type, and **SPOILER ALERT** also plan to give a few as gifts this holiday season. Aren’t they adorable?
Burning: Heather also advises allowing the candle to burn long enough for the wax to melt all the way to the sides of the jars. This should prevent tunneling (when only the middle of the candle burns, leaving a wall of wax around the edges).
Essential Oils: Some folks add essential oils to the candles after pouring, but I chose not to. It’s generally recommended to avoid heating essential oils, as it can alter (and damage) their properties. It’s up to you!
Happy candle making!
Kathleen Henderson is the yankee behind the homestead. Follow along as we grow real food and three boys while renovating a 20-acre farm in northern Virginia. Do you love homegrown food, Paleo-ish recipes, and natural living? You’re in good company! Let’s grow together…