Conventional candles are made from petroleum products – a non-renewable resource – and some release volatile organic compounds like acetone. The dyes and fragrance used in scented candles can also be a problem, with chemical perfumes giving off toxins and potentially triggering asthma and migraines in sensitive people. If you’re going green, making your own eco-f riendly candles is the alternative to store-bought ones with unknown ingredients, so you know exactly what’s in them.
Making your own eco-friendly candles doesn’t require much investing in equipment and it doesn’t demand a great deal of practice or skill. The most basic ingredients are wax, material for the wick, something to melt the wax in and a mould of your choice to create the shape and size candle you want. For melting and the mould you’ll probably already have suitable heat-resistant containers lying around the house. Even a tin can placed in a saucepan of hot water will do the job, although a double boiler is the ideal thing for melting wax.
Eco-friendly ingredients are easily sourced. Top of the list is the wax. The most popular alternatives to petroleum products are beeswax and soy wax, which are available from most craft suppliers and are easy to work with, especially for a beginner in candle making. Other options include olive oil and even used cooking oil that has been strained. If you have eco-friendly candle stubs you can melt them down and recast them.
Other things you’ll need are materials for wicks. Standard wicks often contain metal, so look for cotton or other metal-free wicks. For colored candles you will need vegetable dyes, rather than synthetic chemical ones; use special candle dyes, not food dye, paint or soap dye. For fragrance, some of your favorite natural essential oils will be ideal.
Making your soy, beeswax or plant oil candle is basically as simple as melting the wax carefully and pouring into a mould. The only dedicated accessory you should really consider is a thermometer that clips onto the side of your melting container. This will help make sure the flammable wax doesn’t get too hot. Don’t let it get hotter than 190ºF max. 175º is ideal.
When your wax reaches the required temperature, add your dye and stir well for a minute or two so it’s evenly mixed. Lastly, add your fragrance. The proportions are up to you, depending on how strong you want it, but as a rough guideline go for about 1 to 1.5 ounces of fragrance in a pound of candle wax. Let the wax cool to about 150ºF before pouring into your moulds; warm them in hot water first. When a skin forms on top, insert the wick.
That’s the essence of eco-friendly candle-making and it''s dead easy. Remember to let your candle cool and solidify properly before use – give it a day to be certain. You’re then ready to use your home-made candles on your dining table, in the bathroom or wherever you like them. It’s the economical and healthy alternative if you’re going green.