Making beeswax candles
I love the smell of candles, and those made from beeswax have a natural, sweet aroma. If you have beehives you can make your own candles. Honeybees bring nectar to the hive and eat it. Their wax glands convert the sugar into wax. It seeps through their pores as tiny flakes, and the bees use it to construct the honeycomb.
Bill Schnute raises bees and makes candles on his Michigan farm. When the honey is extracted, wax comes off the edges of the frame. It can then be melted down to make candles.
"You need to put it in some kind of a double-boiler. You don't want to actually put flame on the bottom of the wax container, because that's a fire hazard and it could also scorch the wax and darken it," says Schnute. "People use all kinds of different things to heat up their wax."
You might have to strain out the "bee junk" – pollen and other small, dark particles that come from the hive. Some candle makers run it through a filter, and others leave it in for the natural look. Beeswax is a golden yellow color, but you can add other colors, favorite scents, and essential oils if you prefer.
You can pour the liquid wax into a mold, or make hand-dipped candles. Schnute says he repeatedly dips candle wicks into the hot wax until he gets the candle size he wants.
"I recommend people use a square braid wick. Use a wick as big as you can, but if the wick size is too big it starts smoking. If the wick size is too small, it'll dig a hole and tunnel down the center of the candle," says Schnute. "So you just have experiment and reach a happy medium."
If you don't have a hive in your back yard, you can find beeswax and other candle making supplies online or in your favorite craft supply store. It's a fun, creative project for the whole family, and also makes wonderful gifts.
Learn more about the beeswax candlemaking process
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