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Colonial Candle Making

Mimicking Great-Grandmother

Years ago my sister and I tried our hand at this project, and I have to say, Colonial candle making was easy, fun, and perhaps more important – profitable. We took them all to the State Fair in New England and sold every one of our hanging candles. Here’s how we did it:


You will need a metal container – today a coffee can does the trick – this is to melt your wax in; we used a beeswax brick… not a sheet. We did this for the benefits beeswax offers over other choices. Use the coffee can as the top of your double boiler. Next we’ll need a 30” uncoated wick and something to clip in the middle of the wick (this will make TWO candles). A clothespin works great. To avoid a bent candle we attached a washer on the bottom of both ends, to weight down the free ends and avoid a whole lot of frustration during the dipping process.


Candle MakingOkay – once the beeswax is melted, carefully remove the coffee can from the heat and put it on a flat, heatproof surface. Holding the wicks by the clothespin, dip it into the wax. Hold the wick in the wax until it stops bubbling. Then pull it out and let the melted wax drip off. The rest of the dipping will be a matter of repeating this step, waiting briefly in between.


You may have to stir the wax as you go, and if it cools down too much, put it back on the heat. Try not to let the candle cool too much either, but you can hang it up if you are making more than one candle-pair at a time.


Your weights should avoid a bent candle, but you could lightly roll it on a firm surface between dipping if it happens to take a curved shape. Now it’s just a matter of how thick you want your finished candles to be. Then, hang each pair over a dowel or clip it by the clothespin allowing it to cool.


You can sell them as a “joined” pair (so the buyer knows this was hand-dipped), or you may cut the wick apart and you will have two new candles made in the authentically Colonial tradition. Trim the wicks to about an inch before you burn the candle.


Beeswax candles, whether by melting bricks of beeswax or using the sheets, offer a clean honey fragrance and a beautiful amber glow to the flame. They burn slower than other waxes and are known to be the great natural, air purifier that seems to connect to a deep spiritual belief system.



Esther Smith, author

Because of the fire hazard in making candles, Colonial wives made their candles outside in the open air.


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