Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Soy Wax Candle Extravaganza

Each summer or early autumn I get together with my friend Amber, to do a canning extravaganza, where we spend 2 days canning as many recipes as we can, to put away for Christmas gifts.  My friend is from Kentucky, and is a real life Kentucky Colonel, an honor much like a knighthood, which is bestowed on people each year, for their contributions to the state of KY, and the lives of the people of KY.  Amber received hers for her work bringing theatre to the south central part of the state.  While I was working on planning our recipes for this year's canning adventure, I just happened to bump into an ad for a 'gin & tonic' scented candle, which is clearly something I need in my life.  The seller was asking a fortune for a 16 ounce candle, so I did some digging on the internet to find a candle supply company who carried a Gin & Tonic fragrance oil.  When I did, I discovered that they also had a Kentucky Bourbon scent.  I checked with Amber, who was all for adding something new to our repertoire, then went ahead and ordered the fragrance oil, jars, and 20 pounds of soy wax! 

Half of the Kentucky Bourbon candles, as Amber took hers home.
We ran out of time during our canning marathon in early September, so we put off the candle making until last week.  This is just over HALF of the resulting candles!  I was very careful when I did my math, to figure out exactly how much fragrance oil would be needed for 20 lbs of wax, and exactly how many ounces of jar space we could fill with that.  We planned on a dozen 16 ounce candles with wooden wicks (that crackle like a fire place), and a dozen 10 ounce candles with traditional cotton wicks.  According to my calculations, we should have had just 4 ounces left over, to pour into a spare 4 ounce canning jar.  We actually ended up with enough wax for 8 extra candles, for a grand total of 32!

Half of the Gin & Tonic candles.
The wax, jars, wicks, and fragrance oils came from The Flaming Candle Company.  We used a kitchen scale to measure out our wax, and worked in batches, because the soy wax flakes take up a lot of space in the pan until they melt down to a more manageable volume.  I watched a few youtube tutorials before we started, but it wasn't much more difficult than 'carefully melt, stir, add oils & colorants, stir some more, and pour'.  The most difficult thing is keeping a careful eye on the temperature.  You want to melt the wax, and bring the temperature up to about 180-185 degrees, then add the colorants and fragrance oil, but then allow the mixture to cool to about 140 degrees before pouring it into the jars for the best adhesion.  This was true for the particular brand of wax we used, but if you try creating your own candles be sure to check the specifications for your wax, which may be different!  I created the labels from a template at Avery.com, adding an old botanical drawing of a lime to the Gin & Tonic labels, and some wooden barrels to the KY Bourbon labels.

In case you're wondering what 20 lbs of wax looks like, this was the bag, just after opening it, before measuring any wax out!

Setting up the jars and wicks.  There were some wick holders for sale, that are used to keep the cotton wicks upright and centered in the jars, but this seemed like a silly expense.  While some were metal, others were just popsicle sticks with holes in them. Since I have plenty of popsicle sticks, and lots of tools around the house, we just popped holes in some ourselves, and they worked brilliantly.
Most of them, cooling on my back porch while we worked on the last batch.

While they cooled they looked kinda like monochromatic sand art, but wet.
This was such a simple craft, and much less stressful than our normal canning adventures.  I'm pretty sure it's going to become a staple in our holiday crafting from here on out, but even if Amber didn't want to do it again, I know I'm going to have to try my hand at making some in my favorite scent (McIntosh Apple), and maybe try making some soy wax tarts for my tart warmer.

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