Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Candle-tastic Voyage

Greetings, earthlings. I’m taking a break from my unmitigated thrash rantings to kick out a semi-instructional blog about one of my favorite past times, good old fashioned candle making.  If you’re at all crafty/artsy-fartsy and have a quarter of an ounce of patience on retainer, whipping up your own candle creations can be a lovely de-stressor which rivals the effects of my trusty benzodiazapines; of which I’m trying to phase out of my life entirely.  If some crazy earth-rocking shit happens to transpire in the coming months, I want to be having a panic attack because I’m about to get a meteor off the dome, not because I’m in the midst of a natural disaster and am withdrawing from klonopin. 

As many of you already know, this year I’ve been fairly consumed with further escalating my spiritual side and ‘raising my vibration.’  This was catapulted by a close friend’s passing, and though I’ve always identified as an empath, I started seeing auras sometime in early April.  Part of my personal ritual practice (relatively undefined fusion of ‘religious/spiritual’ beliefs which I draw upon lacking both convention and doctrine, but centric to universal energy that happens to work enormously well for me) include candle ‘spells’ or candle ‘blessings.’  Candle spells are another subject entirely, but since I make candles for spell/ritual purposes, there will be some inclusion of these practices as I break down the relatively effortless art of candle making. Of course, there needn’t be any inclusion of religious ritual for basic candle making if you’re simply using them for ambiance, home decor, and/or practical purposes.

In my experience the best wax to use, with special consideration to candle blessings which should emanate from organic and natural supplies, are soy waxes and beeswaxes.  For the non pseudo-mystical witchy-poos out there, the benefit of both of these waxes is that they are natural substances and they burn cleaner; always a bonus, even if you’re not trying to channel a lottery win, a lover, or heightened clairvoyance. Beeswax is especially nice to use because it doesn’t require the addition of scent, as they naturally emit a mildly sweet honey fragrance that is fairly neutral and unoffensive to most people.  Soy candles typically require the addition of some kind of fragrance, which I restrict to essential oils [rose oil, eucalyptus, jasmine, tea tree oil, peppermint]; some body-grade oils, [sesame oil, rose oil, coconut oil]; and even vanilla or almond extract, though I don’t strongly recommend using scents which are heavy on the alcohol, especially alcohol based perfumes, because they can negatively alter the consistency of the candle and affect how it actually forms and burns [slow, fast, smokey, drippy, etc.]  As a rule, I stay away from paraffin wax because it just blows monkey balls. 

soy wax

You can purchase candle wax at craft stores, but if you’re not into financial rape with no lube, I’d suggest getting your wax online and in bulk to use over time, especially if you’ve committed to soy or beeswax candles (which you should!) 

Here’s what you’re going to actually need, without regard to the specific and often unnecessary bullshit they try to sell you in craft stores:

  1. soy wax or beesewax [usually sold by the pound]
  2. pre-based candle wicks [come in packs of 6/12/24 in stores/larger quantities found at online retailers]
  3. a double boiler**
  4. essential or body oils [if you want to fragrance your candles]
  5. dye blocks for color [available online at far better prices than craft stores] 
  6. crayons for color** [cheap and surprisingly effective when used in moderation]
  7. candle molds**
  8. parchment paper/foil
  9. appropriate herbs/dried flowers [if making spell candles]
  10. thermometer** [unnecessary if you’re at all sensory or have minor amounts of common sense]

The double boiler is created by filling a decent sized pot with about 3 inches of water, and placing inside that a ‘pouring pot’ (the ones they sell at Michael’s/A.C.Moore are overpriced crap that you don’t need) that you will actually melt your wax in.  I use my chicken fry pan filled with water, and an old medium sized pot (with a pour side) to melt the wax in. I have a gas stove, so I start by boiling the water in the shallow pan while the pouring pot is immersed in it.  Though some swear that this is a science, I’m not a slave to temperature.  Science and numbers aren’t my thing; I’m super right-brained and I employ intuition.  If you find yourself in a shit mess with shoddy candles after ‘winging it,’ break down and get the damn thermometer.  On the wax package, there will be instructions indicating what temp works for what kinds of wax.  Personally, I’m just not a fan of directions of any kind.  Even when I’m lost while driving, I try to smell my way to the desired location before I turn on my Garmin Nuvi. Hey, if I want some woman barking at me, I’ll call my mother. 

Once you get your water at a slight boil [medium heat] start adding a few handfuls of wax.  Again, this is a measurement-free zone. If I’m making 6 votives, I throw in a about 5 handfuls of the stuff and watch it begin to melt. This should happen rather rapidly, especially if your apartment is blessed with a glorified Easy Bake Oven of a gas stove (like mine) that makes it nearly impossible to get an accurate temp for anything you may be cooking (soup, stir-fry, cream sauce, pie filling, candles, crack cocaine, whatever.)

At this point your wax should be a little clumpy, but well on it’s way to becoming a smooth liquid.  Now you want to add your color, if that’s your plan. Again, beeswax doesn’t require color tinting either. Something to think about if you’re lazy as fuck, or particularly into that hippy shit. As I mentioned previously, you can color your candles by melting a couple of chunks of a standard candle dye color block, or, if you have Jew tendencies like me, you can take the used crayons that they give kids at my restaurant to draw with while their parents try to pound a beer in peace, and use those. Simply peel a crayon or two and break into even chunks. I usually break a crayon into 4 pieces, and depending on how many candles I’m bumping out and/or the intensity of color that I’m trying to achieve, I toss in 1 to 4 broken up crayons. If you retained any information that you obtained in Kindergarten about primary colors, this should be pretty easy. You can achieve most shades with red, yellow, blue, and green; i.e.;  if you’re making 5 pink votives, 4 good handfuls of [white] soy wax and 1 red crayon broken in fours will do the trick.  Some candle-creating enthusiasts completely denounce the use of crayons for tinting/coloring purposes, claiming that too much of the cheap wax crayons are made of will clog the wick. I have yet to experience this phenomenon, so don’t sweat it.

cheap ass mother fucking crayons

Now your pouring pot should look something like this:

Onto fragrance. If you’re using essential oil, I’d kick in about an ounce of the oil of your choice; remember, essential oils are not diluted, so the scent achieved can be fairly strong.  I’m a big fan of rose [yes, I’m a 75 year old geriatric woman trapped in a super-hot 33 year old broad’s slammin’ body], but if I want a more subtle smelling candle, I opt for rose body oil [available at CVS/Rite-Aid]. Interesting side note: when you use body quality oils as fragrance in conjunction with SOY candle wax, you can make a body massage oil candle that you can light and use the skin-friendly wax to massage the crap out of the object of desire before you launch into the missionary position after a couple glasses of absinthe on the rocks.  [Insert cat purr here.]
If you’re not creating a spell candle -- which involves the mixing in of appropriate dried herbs and flowers -- you’re now ready to pour your wax into your votive molds. Again, these molds are available at inflated prices at craft stores. Though I have many of these myself, I’ve also used shot glasses, muffin trays (non-stick, or spray with cooking spray prior to the pour), old glasses/jars in various sizes, beer cans with the tops sliced off, Pringle cans cut in half, etc.  Be creative, this isn’t rocket science. I make sure that I prepare the votives/wicks prior to anything else. If you have to put a small amount of Elmer’s glue on the base of the wick to keep it firmly in place in the center of the votive mold, go nuts. Again, I usually just press it down hard and hope for the best. Get a tray or plate or a metal toaster tray ready and line that bitch with parchment paper or foil. Then line up your votives on the tray to prepare for the pour. This way, if there’s any overflow, or you happen to go into an epileptic seizure while pouring the wax, your entire kitchen won’t be ruined. If you’re feeling cocky and wish to challenge my advice on properly prepping your workspace, hit me up for some suggestions for removing wax from all of your appliances, pans, and marble floors. It only takes about five hours, six 10 mg valiums, and two psychiatric shock-therapy sessions. 
adding some herbs to the mix

Now if you are using herbs for a blessing/spell candle, do some research and add compatible herbs/flowers that are in symbiotic cahoots for your proposed intention. The candles I made this evening are for a love and protection blessing, and the herbs I used to create this candle included Damiana (love and lust), Mandrake Root (aphrodisiac), Rosemary (protection), and Pink Peppercorns (love and passion). When adding herbs to the candle wax mixture, I typically mix them together in a pre-Saged crystal bowl as I meditate on my intention. I then add the herb mixture to the melted candle wax mix post coloring and scenting.  I’m also a big fan of smudging my candle molds with burning sage smoke before pouring the herbed wax mixture into them. This keeps everything clean, pure, and in my opinion, maximizes spell potential. Now your votives should look like this:

now toss them bitches in the fridge

At this point, I take my tray of candles and pop them in the fridge for an hour, checking in on them periodically. This is  good opportunity to reposition your wicks if necessary, before the wax becomes too hard. I then leave them in the fridge [not freezer] for another hour. After an hour or so has passed, I remove them and place them on the counter for about 12 hours so they have completely solidified. Popping them out of the molds is easy, but remember, if you’re not using conventional molds, spray them with cooking spray prior to the pour. This will alleviate the likelihood of you throwing them off the wall in frustration, or cursing me out.

coolin' out for 12 hours

Now that your candles are out of their molds, you can ‘shave’ any irregular sides with a paring knife to achieve a perfect shape [if necessary] and then let them sit for another 12 hours before lighting them. This is especially important if you have scented your candles because the time allowed for them to ‘sit’ will potentiate their fragrance. 

                             And voila, you're done :)

light 'em if you got 'em