Thursday, February 6, 2014

How to Make Lavender Calming Candles

You know you are a DIYer when,  instead of giving you a candle for your birthday, your mom gives you soy candle wax and forces you to make your own gift from her.

It makes sense. I got into candle making because of my mom. Thanks Mom!

One of my favorites to make are lavender soy candles because the scent of lavender oil can have a calming effect. Who doesn't need a moment calm every now and then? *Raises hand*

In fact, both Lacey's behaviorist and our vet recommended Lacey wear a calming dog collar that contains lavender essential  oil to help with her anxiety. I wasn't so sure it would work until I noticed a difference in her behavior for the worst toward the end of the month when the collar ran out. (You can learn more about the dog calming collar we use here.)






If I know we are going to have a storm, I burn a lavender soy candle to fill the room with lavender essential oil to keep Lacey calm (in theory) and if it makes her humans chill a little, that's OK too.


Chillin'

How to Make Soy Wax Candles


Never leaving a burning candle unattended!


You will need:

Scale (to weigh the soy wax)
Wax pouring pot (I'm using Anchor Hocking  Glass Pitcher I bought at a thrift store)
Pot holders
Glass container to hold the candle (I'm reusing a empty candle jar)
Candle colorant (if desired) 
Lavender essential oil (Do not use lavender extract. It is too heavy to scent soy wax and will sink to the bottom of your candle container. Guess how I know?)
Tabbed candle wick (tabbed wicks make it easier to make sure the wick stays put while you are pouring hot wax around it. They also help prevent glass candle containers from getting too hot and potentially breaking by extinguishing the wick before it reaches the bottom of the candle.)
Hot glue
Tape and scissors  (I'm using painter's tape because it was the first one I grabbed.)
Stir stick or spoon (I use an old chopstick)
Candy thermometer (If you buy one marked Candle Thermometer in candle making section of the store it will cost twice as much as the same thing in the kitchen department marked Candy Thermometer.
Lots and lots of old pasta boxes, etc. to protect your work area (trust me on this)

A word about lead candle wicks

The United State banned the import, manufacturing. and selling of candles with lead core wicks in October 2003 even though most US candle wick makers removed lead from their wicks in the 1970s.

Some candle wicks have a stiff a core made of either of either paper, cotton, or zinc that allows the wick to stand up when it is inserted into a metal candle tab. Zinc has been tested and is considered safe to burn.

We good? Then let's go!


1. Cover your work area with an open cardboard box, etc. because if you plan on being careful and not spilling hot wax, you are guaranteed to spill wax. It also makes clean up a breeze!

2. Wick the candle jar. Place a with a dot of hot glue on the bottom of the candle tab and stick it to the bottom of the candle jar. 

3. Prepare the wick holder.  Cut a small slit in the center of a length of tape with the scissors and poke the candle wick through the slit while attaching the tape across the top of the candle.


If you want to keep the candle wick from flopping around  without tape, wrap the end of the wick around a pen or pencil, or drill a small hole in the center of a craft stick. 

4. Melt the candle wax. Most place the melting pot in a double boiler full of water on the stove. Since soy wax has a lower melting point than paraffin wax, I melt my wax in a series 1-2 minutes intervals in the microwave oven. The microwave method is shorter but it is also more difficult to control the temperature of the wax which could lead to problems later in the process.  


Tip: If you are not using soy wax beads or flakes (recommended) break the wax into small pieces with a hammer so it will melt evenly, especially if you are melting old soy candle wax with new soy candle wax as shown here.


5. Periodically check the temperature of the melting wax with the candy thermometer. Soy wax  takes scent and color best at 180 degrees (F), although you may have to heat the wax to a slightly higher temperature to make sure all of the wax in the pour pot completely melts. If that is the case, wait until the temperature of the wax lowers to 180 degrees (F) before stirring in the scent and coloring to the melted wax. The  general rule is to use one ounce of scent per one pound of wax.

Warning: If you heat soy wax above 200 degrees (F) your wax may burn and discolor and may be too hot to handle safely!

6. Allow the temperature of the wax to cool slightly before pouring the candle, most recommend waiting until the temperature of the scented soy wax lowers to 130 degrees (F.)

Why? 

See below.

How to Fix Cracks, Holes, and Dents in Homemade Candles

Soy candle wax expands when it melts and naturally shrinks when it cools. If you pour soy wax when it is too hot, it may cause a sink hole or crater around the candle wick when it cools. If you don't get a hole you may get cracks or dents in the top of your homemade candle like the example I made for you below. 



You can fix candle wax cracks and holes by heating the top of the candle with a hair dryer until they disappear. No one will ever know!



7. Carefully pour the wax into the candle container using the hot holders.  Allow the candle wax to harden for 24 hours.


See those drips in the photo above? I spent a good chunk of time scraping wax off my kitchen counters  because I didn't follow my own advice about protecting my work area. Don't be me. 

7. Remove the wick holder and trim the wick with scissors if needed.

8. Light your candle and relax in lavender scented bliss. Aaaahh....

Since candle making is a quick and easy process (minus waiting for the wax to harden overnight) I usually make more than one candle at a time. That's why this tutorial shows both white and purple soy candles.

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