By Travis Birch
Idle hands are the devils tools, so it’s been said. When we need down time or a rest, while working at our cabin, as we prepare for an unencumbered life off the grid, we schedule it. So when we get hit with a sudden deluge of rainfall, or when we are snowed in, we tend to chores indoors, and for us one of those chores is making candles and how to light a candle.
Candle making is a long and well-honed tradition, and you can never have too many. If we have an abundance, we bring some home to use at our in town home. A few items you need to get started are,
- Paraffin wax, Wax for Candles 1-2 pounds, based on how many candles you are making.
- Candle Wicks.
- Drop Cloth.
- Double boiler, or an Enamel Pot.
- Dowels, or Corn Husk Broom.
Let’s get this thing started. The rain is coming down pretty good now, and I’m sitting in the cabin, multitasking by collecting rainwater, and watching the wax melt. I start by getting the double boiler filled with water, putting the second pot in the hot water, and putting the wax in. If you want to get fancy, you can add colors, or essential oils to the mix to give the compound a nice fragrance. Vanilla, clove or cinnamon are a few good choices.
As the wax melts, Lay out your drop cloth. Make sure that it covers the ground you’re working. Our work area is in the kitchen, primarily between the table and the back of a high back chair. Setting out the broom stick, (I like using the broom because the flat end keeps the stick from rolling), and tie off as many candle wicks as you are ready to make that day. I place my wicks about six inches apart. Put a knot on the bottom to act as a base.
Check your wax, once melted set it to a simmer, and add your colors or scents. Keep in mind, your candle will only be as long as your pot is deep. Once everything in the pot is incorporated, you can begin dipping. Bring the pot to the table, dip the broom stick of wicks as deep as you want to go. Pull out gently, but quickly, and bridge the broom stick with the wax covered wicks between the table and the chair back. Allow to cool, on a nice day that can be about 15 minutes.
Transfer the double boiler to the stove and keep warm, checking your water levels as you go. When you’re ready to dip again, repeat the process. Continue to do this until your desired thickness is achieved. For my family that is somewhere between 20-30 dips. The thicker the candle becomes, the more it will retain heat, so the cooling process may take a bit longer.
If Mother Nature gives us a couple of days of house arrest, I’ve been known to make enough candles to open a store. My wife and the boys will make candles of various colors and scents to give to their teachers at school, so this task serves a couple of good purposes. We use our homemade candles for our emergency kits, we use them outdoors as well as indoors, to conserve electricity, or to just remind us of the peace and quiet we have access to, over the electronic buzz that is so common in the hustle and bustle of the artificial world.