Making Candles with Sea Shells

votives in sea shells and glass jars

my first batch of homemade candles

This week I made candles, because I recall in the days before computers, we once made sand candles on the beach, in the sunset.

I find myself missing the beauty of candle light, and how candles flicker and glow softly. I also find myself forgetting all the sweet candle scents. I think that today folks like me, the computer folks, are probably all suffering from artificial lights, our souls slowly forgetting how cozy and warm candles were, whilst living in a neon world of mega-combustion flashing on the screens. I spend days and nights in front of the glaring lights from a computer screen and this summer, am just wishing for more to see and do.

So I found some candle making instructions on the internet, that convinced me that not only could I make candles poured into my own sea shells, I could also decorate every single table at a wedding banquet (should I ever need to) with my very own delightful, votive candles!  Oh the sheer power… I felt powerful at once.. ha ha ha… so easy, so powerful…  I could imagine new candles in every color, and my life a warm glow of romantic candle lights through the house … ahh yes… and I even had the time!

I read up on wicks types with fascination. Did you know how many kinds of wicks there are? They come in cotton, paper, zinc and tin and that is just a start. Did you know that for most of recorded history candles were made from tallow (a by-product of beef-fat rendering) and beeswax? Today, most candles are made from paraffin wax, a product of petroleum refining. After getting materials together, I just dove into it, and the candles that happened are messy, quirky things! Please don’t laugh!

Candle Making Steps

Materials for this project are simple:

  1. old candles no one wanted anymore.
  2. a bag of wicks from the craft store. In this case, I used 8 inch cotton wicks that came with metal disks on the bottom, and divided them as needed.
  3. containers. I rounded up some green shot glasses, about a dozen large sea shells, and empty glass candle holders.
  4. one aluminum pan or pie tin
  5. one cooking pot or pan
  6. fragrances (optional)

1. Prepare the containers by placing the wicks into the container, in the very middle.  I tried attaching the wicks to the bottom of the containers with tape. But then I found out (the hard way) that the melted wax renders the tape useless, and hot wax made my wicks slip out of place, willy-nilly. So next time I’ll forget the tape, and just secure the wicks to the container with a glob of soft wax or glue, the night before. (Just ignore the toilet paper roll candle in the picture— it was a complete failure.  It … never … happened. )

2. Melt the wax:  I suppose there a variety of ways. My way: I boiled water on a stove in a handy dandy frying pan, and floated an aluminum pie tin on the top of the water. I cut the wax from old candles into small enough chunks to fit the pie tin, and melted a few at a time.  One can experiment with melting different color waxes, and adding fragrances. Melting wax was easy and quick. My only problem was the pie tins were sometimes shallow, and tip to the side, spilling melting wax into the water of the pan below.

3. Pour the wax into the containers. If the tape fails now, make sure the wicks stand upright in the middle as your first priority for five minutes. Finally through careful balancing I could make the wicks stand up in the middle of the containers inside the liquid wax,  if I gently rested the wicks against twigs over the container.

Then… magic begins once they dry and you light them up at night. Voila! It was worth the time.

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