Another activity that formed part of my Day Zero Project list was to make a candle. When I was little, my Dad used to take us into the school where he taught, and we used to make candles in his science lab. We made them by dipping a long wick into melted wax over and over again. It took ages, and the candles that I produced were generally triangular in shape because all the wax slid down to the bottom, but I was super proud of them, and we loved taking them out into the garden lit once it was dark.
To make my candles I bought a candlemaking kit from Hobbycraft. There were several different ones to choose from, and I chose the basic candlemaking craft kit. It comes with a big bag of wax chips, some moulds, three different colours and some perfume, as well as the other bits and pieces that you need. The only extra equipment that you need is a saucepan for melting the wax and a spoon to stir, definitely best to buy a very cheap saucepan or sacrifice an old one, as you won't be able to use it for food again! If you don't want to melt the wax directly into the saucepan, you can rinse out an old tin can and rest that inside the saucepan.
It was a bit difficult to estimage how much wax was needed to melt, but at least if you do too much you can always re-use it. It reduces down in size quite a lot from the solid wax chips so you need more than you think. After a couple of attempts I found that the best way to melt was was to put it inside an old tin can which rests inside the saucepan which is filled with water and boiled. It took a lot longer to melt down than I thought it would - about 20-25 minutes for a couple of large handfuls of wax chips. It doesn't need to be stirred constantly all that time, but you do need to be there to supervise it.
A small amount of the colouring goes a very long way, as does the fragrance. I made yellow and red wax, and also attempted some stripy candles which turned out really well.
I'm pretty pleased with my finished candles, they are a little patchy and the instructions do suggest coating them with melted wax to make them a bit more shiny, so I may try that when I've melted up my next batch. They smell lovely too!
I've only made these four basic candles to begin with, but I'm definitely inspired and as it turned out to be very easy I'm going to be making more. The instructions come with some ideas for extending your candle making, and one idea that I like the sound of is to make a candle in a bold colour, then chop it up and put in the mould before surrounding with melted wax in a different colour for a bit of a contrast.
I would also like to make some more stripy candles, and I'll be melting down all my old candles to make new ones. The moulds included in the set are very good and can be used over and over, and looking online it's very cheap to buy the wick separately. You could also make your own moulds quite easily from old plastic containers. I'm so glad I pushed myself to try something new!