Candle Common Sense

This is for those of you that burn candles, as well as for those that are thinking of making candles.

There are several different types of candles.  All involve a fuel source and a wick.  A pillar candle is one that stands on its own.  A container candle is one that is inside a container of some sort and must be burned within that container.  A votive is a special breed.  It looks like a pillar candle, but must be burned within a container.  It needs to be burned inside a container that is almost the same size as the votive itself, width-wise.  Common sense for burning any of these candles is to make sure that the pillar candle is on a plate, or some non-flammable base with room for wax spillage.  All candles need to be on a level surface and out of drafts.  That means you don’t want to burn candles in a room with a fan on, or where people walk by frequently.  If the flame is moving around a lot, the candle won’t burn correctly.

Another piece of common sense for burning candles that you may, or may not have heard is that before burning the candle, the wick needs to be trimmed to 1/4″.  You don’t need to measure it, but trim it as close to that as you can.  After you burn it and then put it out, let it cool, then make sure you trim the wick to 1/4″ inch before burning again.  Do this EVERY time!

When putting out a candle, it’s great if you can cover it and let it go out on its own (when it runs out of oxygen, the flame goes out).  If you need to blow it out, cup your hand on the back side of the candle to catch the hot wax.

This is something else you may, or may not have heard, but you should know.  When you burn a candle, make sure you burn it 1 hour for each inch it is in diameter.  If you have a votive, that needs to burn for at least an hour.  A 3 inch candle needs to burn for at least 3 hours at a time.  After a candle has been burned the first time for the proper amount of time (3 hours for a 3″, 2 hours for a 2″, etc.), put it out and let it harden before burning again.  After that, you can burn it for longer.  However, common sense is that you don’t leave a burning candle unattended.  If you are burning a 3″ candles for 6 hours, it will probably be fine, as long as it is wicked correctly and doesn’t have a draft near it, however, it could also develop a crater in the side and have hot wax running down its side.  That’s why you want it on a plate, or a good base.

This one is for both candle burners and those making candles. . .those metal pieces at the bottom are REALLY IMPORTANT!!!  Those things are called wick tabs and are what keeps the wick upright as the candle burns down.  It doesn’t matter what type of candle you are burning: container, votive or pillar, the tab holds the wick up so it doesn’t tip over and break the container, or light the wax on fire.  Usually, the wick will drown itself in hot wax, but it can start a fire.  Please make sure you candles have a wick tab.  If they don’t, don’t burn it down below 1/4″ base of solid wax.

This one is common sense for anyone who makes candles.  If you’ve made candles more than a couple of times, you should know that the wick that sometimes comes with candle molds is usually for a straight paraffin candle.  If that’s not what you’re making, you’ll need to do some research and find the proper wick for your wax, additives and diameter.

There are a lot of different types of wax, and each type has different properties, so needs a different type of wick and wick size.  I know from experience that it takes a lot of trial and error to get the proper wick for your candles.  And then, if your wax supplier or wick supplier changes, you need to test again.  It’s fun to test great candles, but it is also a lot of time and expense to get it correct.  I’m fine with that as I really enjoy the process of making candles and I love to burn them, too.

If you already know all of this, I’m sorry to bore you, but it amazed me when I looked at 3 sites for making beeswax candles this past week and all 3 had bad info on making candles.  Which made me think of a few common sense things that not everyone seems to know about burning them, too.  Just thought I’d pass on a bit of common sense.

Thanks for spending some time with me today!  Be careful when burning candles, but do enjoy it.

CASE or Plagiarism

This morning, as I checked to see what the StampTV Free For All Friday challenge was, my son was sitting at the computer.  The challenge was to CASE a card of one of the Design Team Members.  As I explained to my son that CASEing was looking at a card someone else has done and either doing the same thing, or something quite similar, he said, “So you plagiarize it.”  Well, sort of.  It was interesting to try and explain to him that in card making magazines and on card sites, the reason they give you what the card was made with, was so you can try and do it yourself.  This led to a long discussion about the fact that yes, it is plagiarism, but it is allowed.

I’m one of those people that loves going to craft fairs and seeing what other people do and thinking, “Oh, I could do that.”  or, “It would be really cute if you did it with this and/or that changed.”  Sometimes I bought the items, so I could look at it closely, figure it out, then do it myself.  A lot of times I changed it up, but not always.  I don’t look at that as stealing someone’s idea, I see it as inspiration.  No, I don’t try and sell it or make a profit from it.  It is just inspiration for my own project, or a gift for someone else.

When I put my work up here, I hope someone else tries it.  I’m putting it out there for anyone to take a look at and try.  Here is the card I CASEd:

And my take on it:

What do you think, is it inspiration or plagiarism?

Thanks for spending a bit of your valuable time with me today!

Cards Made at Crop

This is going back, but I’ve been busy recently and wanted to share the cards I made at the CardMaker Magazine/CardSwap February Crop.  We have a new crop coming up in May that will be tons of fun, so make sure you set some time aside!

This one was a challenge where we were given a recipe of items to use on a card and then we had to make a card from that recipe.  It was quite fun.  And, everyone’s card was quite different from the next.

This was a monochrome color challenge,using yellow.  I also followed the sketch challenge on StampTV and came up with my Sunshine card.  You can tell I embossed the triangles in the corner, then used Sakura glaze pens to bring out the yellow on some areas.  It was supposed to be monochrome, so only one color, but I didn’t notice the little white dots on the oval paper until the next day when I saw it in natural light.  It was still mostly yellow, and I liked it.

This one was a sketch challenge.  I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but was fairly pleased with it.  The colors went together quite nicely and I tried some new things.

This one was a corner bookmark challenge.  I’m not too enthusiastic about the corner bookmarks, but my son had asked for a bookmark using this dragon image, so I figured it would work.  The way the corner bookmarks work, this can only be used on right hand pages, or just stuck in between the pages like a regular bookmark.  My son really likes it and got lots of nice comments from other students and teachers at school when he first took it.  I used Sakura glaze pens for all of the coloring, so it stands out quite nicely.  The red triangle is a shimmer sheet, so it sparkles nicely, too.

This challenge was to use lyrics from your favorite song and make a card.  As I couldn’t come up with a favorite song at the time, I asked my husband what his favorite song was and he came up with this one.  (Can you tell it was a rough week at work?)  I actually had a lot of fun making the card and figured it would work well for someone to give to their boss on retiring, or just for someone retiring in general.  Definitely NOT something you would want to give in anything other than humor!!!

The challenge on this one was to use something that had been printed for another use.  M husband came up with this idea for his mother’s birthday.  The magnifying glass has Glossy Accents so it shines.  Neither of us was totally impressed with the card, but we both figured it was the old woman figure that put us off.  Yes, we are still planning on giving it to my MIL for her next birthday.

This challenge was to make a card that would make someone laugh.  I loved the Penny Black stamp from the Bubbles set of the cat and mouse each taking a bath, so decided to go with the thought of giving a cat a bath.  From experience, I know it usually winds up with lots of scratches on the person, so I added some scratches to the woman going to do clean up afterwards.  Not sure how I’ll use this card, but thought it was funny.  Neither of my children, nor my husband, got it, but a lot of the ladies on the forum did.  (We aren’t a cat family.)

This challenge was to decorate something you love.  My children, husband and dogs didn’t want to be decorated, so I wound up decorating a candle I had made.  I’ve been burning it ever since (minus the decoration as that would be dangerous).  It is a coconut candle I made and actually looked better in person than in the picture as the colors don’t seem to go together too well in the picture.

I put my challenge for Friday about using blue flock up as a post, so I won’t repost that picture.

This challenge was to use a one inch square on a two-inch square on a card.  Inchies and Twinchies aren’t my favorite, but I actually liked how this one turned out.  The “J” is on the inchie which is at an angle on the twinchie with the other letters and an embossed dragonfly.  We also had to have an image on the card.  I used stickers rather than stamps for my letters, but they were all shades of purple.

One of our hosts absolutely loves butterflies, so her challenge was to use either a butterfly, bee, or bird (anything that flew) on a card.  I had a card kit from a swap of kits that we had done not too long ago that I used for most of this card.  It is always nice to have a few things that you wouldn’t normally have to use.

The challenge on this one was to make a wrapper for a candy bar.  My husband gave me a candy bar someone at work had given to him, so I had to wrap it up and give it back for a special occasion.  This was the weekend before Valentine’s Day, so he got an “Instant Vacation” for the holiday.

The last challenge I completed was one to decorate a container and make at least three encouraging sayings to go inside it.  Mine was fairly simple, but decorating the container was quite a bit of trouble.  I didn’t have any StazOn ink in black, and trying to cover a tin container with regular black ink just didn’t work well at all.  (That container wound up being recycled.)  I finally just made a black piece to cover the top and the edges went along with the teal, so I left them alone.  My husband really liked this one as he also got it for Valentine’s Day.  I did have to go back and round the corners on each of my pieces as my measuring was just slightly off when I made them.  I also trimmed the edges just a hair.

Whew, it was a busy weekend, but it was a LOT of fun!  We had several new players join in and they had quite a bit of fun, too.  There was only one challenge I didn’t complete and that was making a small picture album.  I’m not into picture albums, so figured it wasn’t something I would give away and didn’t need.  Also, it has been my goal the past several crops to not complete every challenge as the first few crops I participated in, I did WAY too many things.  Yes, I’m a bit OCD.  I think the biggest challenge is choosing which challenge NOT to participate in and then sticking to that.

Do join us for the next crop coming up in May.  It is easy enough to do whichever challenges you want and skip the others.  We also have plenty of time to complete the challenges as we have until the following Tuesday at midnight CST to post our creations.  All you have to do is take a picture and post it digitally to the challenge thread.  Please plan to join us!

Making Palm Wax Candles

I was so excited to be able to go out and make some candles this week.  It gets too cold during the winter for them to cool properly and I’ve been busy lately, so this was the first chance I had.  It is so relaxing and fun to get out and create something!

I’m going to walk you through how I made these candles.  It’s always frustrating when people don’t give enough information, so you are going to get LOTS of information along the way.  To start with, I purchase most of my supplies from Candle Science.  However, they are no longer carrying Palm Wax as they found out their supplier was not being “green”.  So, soon I will have to switch to a different type of wax.  I really like the Starburst Palm wax because of the fun, frosty finish that I get on the candles.

To start with, I figured out that I wanted at least 2 3×3″ candles and a few votives with the scent “Hazelnut Vanilla”.  So I figured 2 lbs of wax would give me what I wanted.  I wound up with 2 3×3″ candles and 7 votives.  My recipe is as follows:  2 lbs Starburst Palm wax, 3 drops color and 2 oz scent.  After lots of testing, I found that this recipe works well.  I can use up to 1.2 oz scent per pound, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the strength of scent.

After I measured out my 2 lbs of wax, I started it warming in a double boiler type way.  What I do is fill an old coffee/food pot almost half way up with water (there is an old tuna can turned upside down inside with holes punched in the bottom), then put my pot with the wax granules in that.  I have the water in the pot turned up to high while I measure the wax, then turn it down to medium high when I put the pot of wax in.  What you do will depend on your stove.

While that is starting to warm, I start getting my molds ready.  I knew I was doing 2 3×3″ molds and then as many votives as I could out of the rest, so I started getting my 3″ molds ready.

I start by threading my wick (I use CSN14 for the 3″ molds) through the wick holder, the wick tab, then down through the mold.

I do it this way so I don’t waste wick.  I purchase my wick by the spool as I get more for my money.  (Yes, I’m thrifty.)  When approximately 1/2 inch is through the wick hole at the bottom (top of the candle when it’s done) of the mold, I use heat-able duct tape to seal it.  (This is available at Home Depot, etc.)  I have found that my piece needs to be a bit longer than the mold is wide, so it can go just a bit up the sides of the mold.  I start by folding the wick over, then pressing down over the wick hole and right along side of the wick, then pressing out so there are no air bubbles.  I then take another piece perpendicular so there is no part of the bottom of the mold showing.  If this is not sealed well, the mold will leak, but if pressed down properly, it works quite well. 

I make sure the corners are folded up, so I have something to grab a hold of when trying to remove the tape at the end.

When done sealing the mold at the bottom, I flip it over, pull the wick tight, while holding the bottom so it doesn’t slip, and pulling it through the wick holder.  Then I take a small piece of the tape to hold the wick tab up next to the wick holder.  I fold it over, so it sticks to the tab, then back over so I have something to grab onto when I need to remove it.

On votive molds, I use wick pins, then wick them after they are cooled.  I use CNS9 wick for the votives.  This seems to be much easier and work much better with votives.

As soon as the large molds are wicked and the votives have the pins in them and are ready to be used, I put them in a toaster oven at 150 degrees with “convection” chosen to warm while the wax is warming.

Then I measure the scent and make sure I have my color out.  I use liquid color that I have purchased from Bitter Creek Candle Supply.  It works quite well and doesn’t take much to color the wax.  For a dark color, I will use 10 to 20 drops per pound, but usually use 3 to 7 drops for a medium color.  For these candles, I was using Hazelnut Vanilla scent and just wanted a bit of color, so I used 3 drops of Coffee/Caramel color.  Make sure that just before adding the color, you shake, rattle and roll the color jar to thoroughly mix the color.

I always measure my scent by weight, not by volume. 

Now, it is a waiting game.  The wax needs to get to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, then have the color drops added and be stirred for 2 minutes.  After that, the scent needs to be added and stirred for approximately 2 minutes.  As soon as that is done, the wax is ready to be poured.  It needs to be poured at 185 to 195 degrees, so I usually take it off the heat before adding the color, then put it back in the water pot when I add the scent to get it to the right temperature.  When I am about ready to pour, I pull my molds out of the toaster oven and then immediately pour.

After that, it is another waiting game.  I put my molds in a cooler, but not too close together, so they cool slowly.  I don’t seal the lid on it, but leave just the tiniest bit of space so they actually cool.  After about 1/2 to 1 hour (depending upon how quickly they are cooling), I look to see of the top looks to be hardening and whether or not holes are forming.

There are usually holes, so I save some of my wax for a second and sometimes third pour.  When doing the second pour, I use a knitting needle to poke holes in the top of the candle and pour the hot wax (make sure it is the same temperature, or 10 degrees warmer than the first pour) but try not to overflow the original level of the top.  Wait another 1/2 to 1 hour and check again.  When I’m done with my pours, I usually have a bit left and pour out the last into an additional votive cup (hence the 7th votive).  It isn’t as pretty, but is perfect for burning in my bathrooms.

When the candles are completely cool (this takes from a couple to several hours, I usually leave them until the next morning) I can then pull them out of the molds, wick the votives and wrap them up.  If you are just making ones for you, make sure you wait at least 24 hours before burning them as they need time to cure.  Not sure quite what that means, but they burn better and smell better while burning if you wait.

These are what I had when finished, 2 3×3″ and 7 votives, and the picture on the next is what they look like.

It may seem like a lot of work, but I love making my own candles as I can use whatever scent and color I want.  I can make a coconut candle that is purple, or a cherry candle that is yellow.  Whatever I want I can make.  My candles also tend to burn longer and have a much better smell than what I can purchase in the store, as well as getting more for my money.  It is a fun and relaxing thing to do, too.  I can’t tell you how good these smell, but I wish you could smell them and enjoy them as much as I am.  I enjoy the process of making them, as well as enjoying burning them in my home, later.

Thanks for joining me on this experience.  I hope it was useful for you.