Do you want to go back to simpler times? A time when people made their own candles and lived in cabins heated by firewood? Well, I can’t promise you that, but I can teach you how to make your own hand dipped beeswax candles.
On this blog, we’ve already taught you how to make beeswax container candles, rolled beeswax candles, and we even taught you how to render beeswax, but now we’re going to reach down into our pioneer days and teach you how to make hand dipped beeswax candles.
Making your own dipped candles is a more tedious process and it’s more time-consuming than the other methods we’ve shared before, but it’s really fun and really satisfying.
So let’s get right to it!
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Hand-Dipped Beeswax Candle Safety Tips
I know, you want to get right to candle-making, but I really must first share some safety tips with you. It’s my responsibility.
- Never leave melting wax unattended. This is probably the most critical safety precaution you can take. If you have to walk away from your project, remove the wax from its heat source and come back to it when you’re able to give it your full attention. Beeswax is flammable so you have to be careful with it.
- Do not heat beeswax in the microwave. It’s not recommended to melt beeswax in the microwave. Beeswax has a high melting point and it can catch fire or explode in the microwave. Yikes!
- Don’t let your wax get too hot. You can test the temperature of your wax with a thermometer to make sure it’s not getting too hot. Beeswax melts at a temperature of about 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Your ideal dipping temperature is around 155 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Choose the right wick size. Choosing a wick size that’s too large can result in a candle that burns very hot. This can make it an unsafe candle. For an average dipped candle a good size is #1/0 or 2/0.
- Melt wax with the correct materials. When you melt the wax, it’s important to use a double boiler or something that’s specifically made for melting wax. This distributes the heat and keeps your wax from becoming dangerously hot.
- Use an electric stove if possible. It’s safer to melt wax on an electric stove than a gas one. In the event that the wax reaches flashpoint, it’s better not to have it around a gas flame. If the vapors come in contact with the flame it could ignite those vapors. If you have a gas stove, you can purchase a small electric burner just for wax melting projects. This is actually ideal because it keeps your cooking stove nice and clean.
- Dedicate your tools to the cause. Every tool you use for candle making will be covered in beeswax. This will happen even if you’re careful. It’s just the way it is, so I dedicate my equipment totally to candle-making.
- Don’t put beeswax down your drain. Do not put beeswax or beeswax mixed with water down the drain. It will clog your drains and make a plumbing nightmare. Beeswax is for life.
- Test. Test. Test. If you talk to any professional candle maker they’ll say one of the most important aspects of the job is testing your work. If your wick size is too big or too small, you can adjust for it in the next batch. If something is wrong with the setup you can catch it in the testing phase. If you’re planning on selling your candles it’s extremely important to test your products and repeat the same process every time to ensure safe candles that burn well.
What You Need to Make Hand Dipped Beeswax Candles
- Beeswax (Enough to fill your candle making container. My candle pouring pot holds four pounds of wax and is eight inches tall. If you wanted to make longer candles you would need more wax)
- Dipping container (I use a candle making pouring pot but for longer taper candles you’ll want something deeper. I haven’t purchased one, but you can find them on Etsy or here’s one from a website called Betterbee)
- Wicks (Recommended size for an average candle is #1/0 or #2/0. If you make birthday candles you could use a little bit smaller wick. When purchasing wicks do NOT purchase the wicks with a little metal piece on the bottom. You want a length of wick you can cut into the size you want)
- A weight for the bottom of the wick (we used a washer)
- An electric burner (to keep your stove clean)
- Something to put under your operation to keep your table clean. You’re going to be messier than you think, so put something under your candle-making area. You could use a plastic tablecloth that you don’t mind using for candle making. Beeswax is difficult to remove from surfaces so this is a must.
- A place to hang your candles. We used the back of a chair, but you can also use a drying rack or make your own out of dowel rods.
- A digital temperature gun if you want to test the temperature of your wax
- Candleholder for sizing your candle
- Long wooden spoon
OK now that you know what you need to make the candles, I’ll show you how to make some of your own!
Step 1: Melt Your Beeswax
The first step in making beeswax candles is melting the wax.
When you melt beeswax you need a double boiler system. This keeps the wax from overheating or burning. I use my pouring pitcher and an old pot that is dedicated to rendering beeswax and candlemaking. You can also use a double boiler pot. Just remember that whatever you use for this project will need to be dedicated to it in the future because the beeswax will be hard to remove.
Start by simmering around an inch or two of water in your pot. You want enough water to heat up the beeswax safely, but not so much that your pot floats in the water (I’ve made this mistake myself).
Here’s what the beeswax will look like as it begins to melt and turn into liquid. You can use a long wooden spoon to push the beeswax around if you need to.
Here’s what it looks like as it’s melting into a liquid.
Step 2: Get Your Wicks Ready
While your beeswax is melting you can begin to get your wicks ready.
First, begin by measuring your wicks. Here’s a basic formula for determining how long you should cut the wicks.
Take the length you want each candle to be. Let’s say you want 7-inch candles in the end. Double that number because you’re making two candles at one go. Now you have 14 inches of wick.
Add two more inches because you’re going to tie the end of the wick with a weight.
Add another 3-4 inches for the top of the candle that you’ll hang and use for dipping.
For two 7 inch candles, you’re looking at 19-20 inches of wick.
When the wick is cut to length, tie a weight to the bottoms of each side. This helps keep your candles straight and uniform when dipping.
In this picture, both weights are tied to the bottom and it’s ready to be dipped. We used enough wick to make two birthday candles.
Step Three: Begin Dipping Your Beeswax Candles
Check the temperature of your beeswax before you begin dipping. The ideal temperature for dipping is between 155 and 180. If you try to dip it too hot, your candles will not get bigger because the wax will melt off the wax you’re dipping in. If it’s too cold, it will start to turn solid and you won’t be able to dip.
I made the mistake of leaving the electric stove on because I didn’t want the beeswax to cool. I noticed my candles were very straight but they were NOT getting bigger. They also did not have a tapered look but were instead straight up and down. This was because my wax was too hot 🙂 So turn off your heat and turn it back on if the heat becomes too low.
Now that the wax is completely melted, you can start dipping your wicks in the beeswax.
The first time you put the wicks in the wax leave them in for a longer period of time (maybe like 20 seconds). Lift out of the wax and allow to cool and begin to harden.
You can gently straighten the candles at the beginning so they form nice and straight. Repeat the process of dipping in and lifting up and allowing it to cool a little while before dipping it back in.
When the candles began to take on form, we cut off the weights to be used again.
The birthday candles are just ADORABLE. However, we did use cold water to help make the dipping process go faster. While this DOES make it go more quickly, it can also lead to bubbles and strange formations on the candles. If you just want to do candle dipping with kiddos and you don’t want the process to last the whole day you could use cold water between dippings, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you want nice smooth candles.
To make larger candles, keep dipping until they have reached the size you want. You can use a candle holder to size how much larger you want your candles to be.
Be careful as you’re dipping the candles to keep them from touching each other. If they touch, they might make your candles misshapen. To avoid this, you can use a piece of wood (or something similar to that) that keeps the candles separate when you dip them in.
Step Four: Set Your Candles Aside to Cool
My friend conveniently had these lovely metal chairs that were perfect for cooling candles. You may not have this kind of setup, but if you don’t you can always place a square dowel rod between two even surfaces. Just make sure whatever you drape your candles over that you leave enough space so the candles don’t touch each other.
Keep the candles in place until they completely harden. It’s recommended by some candle makers to wait 7-10 days to allow the candles to cure before you light them.
Our candles were not perfect, but we REALLY enjoyed the process and even extended our time together by running home and picking up kids from school so we could spend some extra time making them.
If you want, you can also trim the bottoms to make a flat edge. We kept them this way because they suited our candle holders, but they’re just as easy to trim and make more uniform.
Mistakes to Avoid When Making Hand-Dipped Beeswax Candles
During our candle-making process, we learned a lot of things NOT to do when making hand dipped beeswax candles. We’re going to share our knowledge with you (plus additional tips I learned from research post-making!).
- Don’t dip the candles in cold water. Yes, you can speed up the process by dipping the candles in cold water between beeswax dipping. However, it can make the candles form strangely with bubbles and deformities as well.
- Don’t make the beeswax too hot or too cold. I made the mistake of keeping the beeswax on a hot stove. The result was my candles were long and thin and WEREN’T getting bigger. They didn’t have that beautiful tapered look, either.
- Having too little wax. If you want long beeswax candles you need to have a vat tall enough and enough beeswax to fill it. We started out with enough beeswax to make a birthday candle, but not enough to make a normal candle.
- Using the wrong wick size. Using the wrong size wick is common whether you’re burning a beeswax taper candle or a container candle. A wick that’s too small will snuff out, and one that’s too big will flicker and create smoke and soot. You can experiment with different wick sizes, but for a normal taper candle try using #1/0 or #2/0 braided wick.
- Lighting the candles too soon. We lit a candle shortly after we dipped it for the sake of a picture, but it’s better to let your candles cure before lighting them. It often takes a long period of time for the candle wax to completely harden after melting, and a cured candle will burn better than one that isn’t. It’s recommended to cure a beeswax candle for 7-10 days.
- Don’t forget to use your candles safely once they’re made! Here’s a few tips to keep things safe:
- Don’t leave candles unattended. It’s easy to walk away from candles, but it’s also easy for something to happen. Taper candles have a better chance of being knocked over so please be careful not to leave the room and allow them to keep burning.
- Don’t burn a candle near something that might light on fire. This seems like totally obvious, but sometimes you might not realize that the table you’re lighting your candle on is also very near your curtains. Curtains + fire = disaster. Or, you may have something on your table — a decoration or something — that comes too close to your candles. Please do not light them near something that may catch on fire.
- Keep candles away from children and animals. Not only will your children try to slide their fingers over the flame-like they’re some kind of magician, but there’s also a high chance of them knocking the candle off the table. Teach your children not to play with the candles — although they may enjoy blowing them out.
- Don’t put your candles near flames or vents. Keeping your candles away from air currents will keep them from uneven burning or shooting.
- Don’t move candles while they’re burning. Once your candle is lit don’t move it. I know you want to walk around your house with a candle-like you’re in a mystery novel, but taper candles could easily fall off your candle holder landing you in an entirely different type of book.
- Put your candle on a stable flat surface. Try to avoid putting your candle on something that can easily fall over or on a surface where it could slide off.
- Don’t burn a candle for more than three hours to four hours. It’s recommended not to let your candles burn more than three to four hours, and to stop burning a container candle when it’s reached half an inch of wax at the bottom. This can help avoid getting the container too hot and accidentally causing a fire.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hand Dipped Beeswax Candles
In case I missed anything, here’s a little section on frequently asked questions about making beeswax taper candles!
- Do beeswax candles smell good? In my experience with beeswax candles, it can be difficult to get make them retain fragrances. I think you could add artificial fragrances to your beeswax container candles, but the fragrance load is higher than it is for other types of waxes. Personally, I wouldn’t attempt to add essential oils to your beeswax candles. I have tried and it simply does not hold the scent well. Thankfully, beeswax has a warm honey scent that smells good without additives.
- Where can you source beeswax? There are a number of places where you can source beeswax. You can get beeswax from Amazon or Etsy if you want an online option. You can also render your own beeswax if you have bees or if you can source it from a local beekeeper. I have rendered the beeswax from our bees a number of times and it’s the beeswax I used to make our candles. Some local beekeepers may also have beeswax that has already been rendered that you can begin using. Just make sure that it’s clean and mostly free from honey and other bee bits.
- Do beeswax candles really purify the air? Some people claim that beeswax candles help purify the air by releasing negative ions into the air that neutralize air pollutants. They also claim that this can help with allergies and asthma. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that because I don’t really have proof that this phenomenon is happening, but I would say that beeswax candles are a more natural way to make candles.
- Can you get organic beeswax? This is a tricky question. In my opinion, you can’t really get organic beeswax or organic honey unless you can 100% guarantee that everything within an 8-mile radius of your bees is organic. We don’t have that option with our bees as we simply don’t own that much land. We can’t really control what happens outside of our property, so our bees can come in contact with inorganic things like pesticides. When things are labeled “organic” it’s likely not true and/or it may be imported from a place that’s allowed to label it that way. You can purchase honey that says it’s organic, but chances are it’s probably not and the same goes for beeswax. It’s better to purchase 100% pure beeswax rather than organic.
- How long does it take to make hand dipped beeswax candles? With a small home setup, the process is pretty slow. You’re not going to make a batch of candles in a couple of minutes. It probably took us 6 hours to make a dozen or so candles. However, this was our first time making them and I’m sure it would move more quickly when we get the process down more smoothly.
- Can you color beeswax candles? Yes, you can. You can either add natural ingredients like cinnamon or turmeric or artificially with things like food coloring paste or wax dyes.
- Why is beeswax different colors? Beeswax naturally comes in different colors based on how old it is and what was happening in the bee box. White beeswax obtains that color from being bleached and is not naturally occurring.
- Why are beeswax candles expensive? Beeswax can be fairly pricey because it can’t be produced artificially. Bees have to work very hard to make beeswax, and the beeswax they make is for their hive. The beeswax we use is excess or discarded. They keep most of the beeswax they produce for their home and store honey.
What Can You Do With Your Tapered Beeswax Candles?
My friend wanted to make candles for her Christmas tree because she had little candle holders that clipped to the tree. Here’s a picture of her beautiful tree! Don’t worry, she didn’t light them and doesn’t plan to. She just wanted them for decoration.
Now look at this so so cute candle for her daughter’s birthday cupcake!!
You can also add your hand dipped beeswax candles to your dinner table or add it as the background decor of a murder mystery party (if you’re ever planning on hosting one let me know because it’s a weird bucket list thing for me to participate in one).
You can use your beeswax candles as a background for a home decor Instagram photoshoot, or as a spooky addition to your next Halloween get-together.
OK, so here’s my idea for your beeswax candles. Now tell me about yours in the comments! If you have any more questions about candle making please drop those in the comments below too!