One of the benefits of having a bee hive in the backyard is “free” beeswax. We’ve been gathering our wax for several years, working out a way to clean it sufficiently. After some experiments, Mark bought a colander from Goodwill, lined it with an old tee-shirt, and melted the comb down over a pan of boiling water. When he lifts the colander, the hot wax streams through the fabric and cools on the surface of the water. Voila! A disc of clear beeswax! The disc lived in the larder for a year, waiting to make candles.
Yesterday, we had our first foray into candle making. I’d already learned that all wax work should happen in the back yard, using the camp stove on the potting table. That way, no wax is ground into the floor and the neighborhood bees come by to scarf down any residual honey. We hauled the stove, straining equipment, piles of dirty comb, wax melting pot—small, with a pouring spout—empty votive glasses, plastic candle mold, and reading material outside. It was a warm and sunny afternoon. Mark tended the wax cleaning process while reading The Economist. I set up the wicks and melted down chunks of the beeswax disc. It’s pretty straightforward. Work on a flat surface—not one that tilts! Attach wicks to the bottom of the jars or mold. Hold them tight with a dowel, if you can. Pour hot wax into the molds. Let it cool for about 20 minutes, then poke toothpicks into the center—the wax shrinks as it cools and leaves holes in the candles. Watch for bubbles as warm wax slides into the gaps. Top off. Let cool completely before popping out of molds. Voila! Beeswax candles!