Now that your bees are tucked into bed and you’ve settled around the fire with your warm cup of tea, it’s time to start thinking inward. Once the bees are squared away outside, you’ve not much to do except check periodically when a warmer winter day rolls around, and otherwise enjoy the quiet time of the beekeepers’ year. Just the same, there’s no need for idle hands. If you’ve harvested honey, beeswax, pollen or propolis from the hive during the year, you have the materials to create candles, soaps, lip balm and other products. Many beekeepers take advantage of the colder months to produce these value-added items to sell during spring and summer markets the following year. Personally, we have just enough to use for ourselves and give as gifts to friends and family over the holidays. Here’s one of my favorite “recipes” for candles. It makes beautiful presents for loved ones or items to sell later.
All candles require a few important components: a waxy material, a wick (ideally with a weight at the bottom), and a glass jar or other container to hold the wax for each candle so that it burns safely. The rest is up to you. Many candle-makers add scents. I personally prefer natural essential oils to synthetic fragrances. You can even add dried flower petals to the tops of your candles; these let you know which ones have scents. Of course, the light honey-aroma of a natural beeswax candle is amazing all on its own, too.
- Pelleted beeswax
- 100 percent cotton wick (with metal weight)
- Bamboo skewers
- Ovenproof jars or other glass containers (the candle holders)
- Essential oils (optional)
How to Make Beeswax Candles
1. Position Wicks in Glass Container
Melt a tiny bit of wax so that it’s sticky on both sides. Use it to hold the metal weight of the wick at the bottom of your glass jar. Position the wick so that it is as central as possible (if your glass jar is very wide, use two, three or even more wicks so that wax burns evenly across the surface).
2. Suspend the Wicks From the Container Opening
Tie the end of the cotton wick to a skewer, by wrapping it around several times. Keep the wick centered, and place the skewer rested across the top of the container.
3. Add Wax to the Container
Fill the jar with pelleted beeswax. Some people prefer to heat the wax first in a double-boiler, but this is an easy way to save pots and hold the wick in place at the same time.
4. Add Scents
Add any scents to your wax as desired.
5. Place Containers in the Oven
Place the candles on a cookie sheet in the oven at 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Each oven heats differently, and remember that the back of the oven is hotter than the front, so rotate the cookie sheet as needed. Time varies depending on your container size and amount of wax, so watch the candles closely. Remove when all the pellets have thoroughly melted.
6. Remove From the Oven, Cool and Trim
Remove the candles and let them cool fully. Once cooled, trim the wick with a sharp pair of scissors.
Kids especially love this candle-making project because it’s easy, flexible and adaptable. You can use virtually any container that suits your needs, and the ingredients are simple and accessible, especially if you already have wax and can source the rest from your beekeeping supply company (most carry candle-making accessories). Beeswax burns cleanly and releases no volatile compounds into the air, making it an ideal indoor light source. These candles also provide a beautiful ambiance in the darker winter months. Happy burning!