candle making

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candle making

Postby redneckjedi on Wed Apr 01, 2009 2:47 am

I have decided to take up candle making and perhaps later soap making. Would it be more accurate to do rolled, dipped, or moulded candles? I am aiming at renaissance and earlier periods. At the moment I am doing beeswax and paraffin (if I have trouble getting beeswax) and I am not prepared for tallow yet.

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Re: candle making

Postby azure on Thu Apr 02, 2009 9:09 am

I have never seen a living history display showing anything but dipped candles, (but I do wonder how they produced those huge church ones :-D)

I think, in the periods you are thinking of, beeswax candles would be very much a luxury item, only for the very wealthy or churches, which could be an interesting angle to go for.
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Re: candle making

Postby frodo on Thu Apr 02, 2009 7:34 pm

Be very very VERY careful making beeswax candles in an outdoor reenactment setting, it has a very low flash point and if the correct equipment is not used (double boiler etc) it has a tendency to go bang, pop and whoosh quite a bit. However most were dipped then shaved and shaped afterwards, bearing in mind that the church candles sticks may have been huge it doesnt mean the candles were too... Have fun its a great craft but be super careful
By the way beeswax can usually be found in craft shops in sheets to make rolled candles, which can be melted down and used for dipping, you can also sometimes get some in sewing shops or fishing tackle shops as it is used for waterproofing thread.
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Re: candle making

Postby the_power on Thu Apr 02, 2009 10:13 pm

One of the bits in my meadmaking lecture details that some churchs used *staggering* amounts of beeswax. One cathedral in Paris used 80,000 pounds of wax a year in the 1400s; with the advent of the Reformation, such excesses were curbed, driving the price of honey through the roof (as it was no longer effectively subsidised by the wax industry).

I'd love to know the price of it...but a good estimate is that it takes 7 kg of honey for a bee to make 1kg of wax. And honey was the most expensive sweet good in the medieval period.

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Re: candle making

Postby Andrea L Redden on Mon May 18, 2009 11:23 am

frodo wrote:By the way beeswax can usually be found in craft shops

Don't buy it from the craft shops. If they're anything like the ones here in Oz they'll charge you an arm and a leg for it. Look up local beekeepers in the phone book and phone around. The one whose honey I buy only charges me AUD8.25=EUR4.50 per kilo.

Trust me, I'm female. ;-)
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Re: candle making

Postby Marcus Valerius on Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:41 pm

This sounds fascinating I must say. How exactly are candles made? anyone got any good links to a site that explains the process. I never gave much consideration to it before now?

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Re: candle making

Postby Dave Mooney on Tue Jun 09, 2009 9:02 am

Making tallow is easy enough but the rendering process a bit icky. The house will only smell of cooking meat so good ventilation is the order of the day. Or doing it out doors even better. (We did it when we lived in a mobile home. It ended up with it in the home rendering away and us finding jobs to do outside) You'll have to make the tallow at home as you'll likely not have the time at an event. Instructions on-line. (Tallow does melt in the sun!)

Rush lights would be more common than candles anyway and these can be made easily at an event with the right kit. By that I mean a long narrow metal trough like dish that you place beside the fire, not on it. I think they were called 'boats' or something. Anyway, with this vessel there is no dipping required. Dipping requires large volumes of oil to be able to dip into. With this trough you only need small amounts of tallow at any one time. You draw the rush across through the oil to build it up layer by layer. Getting the rushes together is the real drag. And it's the pith from them that you want. The ones in the fields are too skinny, too short and are too hard to peel. You'd be looking for the type at the edge of a lake or river. They look just like the field type, are dark green, but will be as thick as your little finger at the base and on stripping you'll notice that the pith is not just spongy like the field type but is in 'cell' like structures making them much stronger and easier to use. They grow to about 3 foot as well so will make longer burning lights. These should be pulled from the water in September, stripped and let dry out somewhere.

Using tallow lamps or rush lights does have a dirty burn and will smell of cooking meat.

I seem to recall somewhere that you can make bees wax candles by rolling plates of it together. You'll have to pour melted wax onto a non-stick tray at home to make up the plates first. On site, gently heat each plate by the fire and roll it round a wick and then build up layer by layer in the same fashion. As it's all in hand you shouldn't actually melt the wax too much or need all that much heat in the first place. On a warm day the sun and your hand would be nearly enough....on a warm day :roll:

Soap making is a long chemical process that doesn't lend well to shows. The lye is caustic and will leave you without fingerprints at the very least and stumps at worst (only kidding home made lye isn't that strong but can burn skin). Plus you'd need to bring hardwood ashes with you to show the lye making process which is messy enough at the best of times. You can only hope to show the process stages but it's a lot of kit to carry about for a show and tell. The soap will likely be a soft soap not a bar.
(Warning: Using drain cleaner for lye will take 6 months to cure and will melt you prior to that)

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Re: candle making

Postby sabrewolfe on Tue Jun 09, 2009 9:08 am

Health food shops usually do beeswax quite cheeply (one euro for a small block last time i checked) I have seen prices 5-7 times this amount so shop around too avoid getting ripped off.
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Re: candle making

Postby angelabrookss on Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:56 pm

One time i am not very accurate in making candles because first time when i was making a candle my idea was totally failed because i was making with the wrong method but now i m making it with a very good and excellent hand !
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