Sunday, 23 November 2014
Have a fire extinguisher in easy reach or make sure you know where it is. I have one on a nearby kitchen shelf and a second one by the woodstove.
Wax is extremely flammable and for safety, use a double boiler for melting. In this case, it's a stainless steel pot I use for crafts but not dyeing and a tin can, which is elevated from the pot bottom. Normally I use a metal trivet, but I had bamboo skewers handy, and just made a triangle of those, on which to sit the pot.
There is a variety of different suggestions for wax flashpoints out there. Check with the manufacturer of the wax you're using to make sure you have the safe working temperatures. Here I'm using a paraffin wax blend. It melts at about 139° F and heats up quickly. These will be scented candles, so I also check the flashpoint of the scented oils as well. The colourant and scent mix well at 175° - 179° F. I use a thermometer to keep track of the temperatures because while wax melts fairly slowly, once it's melted, it comes to temperature quite quickly. I could speed up the melting process by chopping the wax into smaller pieces. Don't leave the melting wax unattended!
While the wax is coming to temperature, get your moulds ready. Cover a surface with paper if you so choose. You will need your moulds, wick pins if you have them. If not, some bamboo skewers and your wicks. Put your scent and colourant in an easy to access place as well.
If your wax needs additives, add them first. Then add the scent and finally the colourant. This way you know for sure that you've got everything needed for that particular wax vat. I add my scent and colourant once the wax gets to just above 175°F and by the time I've mixed it in, the wax temperature is 179°F. I turn off the stove and pour into my moulds. Normally my moulds would be all in a row for easy pouring but today I did things the hard way. When pouring votives and tea lights, pour almost to the top, but not quite. Too much of a space may leave a pour mark when you top up the wax, too little and you can't get perfect coverage on repouring.
Because I don't have wick pins, I wait until the wax is just starting to cool on the edges and push the wick into the soft cooling wax on the bottom. If wicks start to lean one way or another, I use skewers to keep them centred until the wax is solid.
When the wax cools, it sinks in the middle, leaving a well or indentation around the wick. To fix this, reheat the remaining wax to about 10° - 15° F above the initial pour temperature. Then pour some wax to top off the moulds. With the glass containers, I only add enough wax to completely cover the top and not raise the depth of wax. Sometimes you'll need to top up twice to get a completely smooth candle. If a little bit of an uneven surface doesn't bother you, then once should do it.
I've used mottling wax here. You can see the pink candles are flat, but rough on the edges where there wasn't quite enough space for topping off. The purple/blue candles have a slight well in the centre, but nice edges. It was a bit of a trade off there. The container candle shows that my counter top is uneven, as the wax is slightly higher on one side than the other!