The ancient technique of hand-dipping candles -- repeatedly dipping a weighted wick in melted wax -- remains unchanged today. Two candles are dipped at once, one at each end of a long wick.
Heated wax can ignite, so never leave it unattended; lower heat immediately if wax begins to burn or smoke. The color can be deepened or altered with shavings of darker beeswax or wax-dye pellets. Use 15-ply wicking for thin tapers, 24-ply for candles thicker than 1/2 inch.
- Beeswax or paraffin
- Double boiler
- Wick ends (fishing weights, metal nuts, or several pennies)
- Cold water
- Mat knife
Melt beeswax or paraffin in a double boiler: Put wax in any pot tall enough to accommodate the length of the candles you're making; place the pot in a stockpot half full of water set over an electric burner on high heat. The temperature should remain below 200 degrees on a candy thermometer.
As wax is melting, prepare wick: Cut a length of wicking that will leave enough room for dipping a candle on each end. Tie weights to wick ends -- use fishing weights, metal nuts, or several pennies stuck together with bits of soft wax.
Test wax temperature (it should be about 165 degrees), and seal wick by dipping the ends into melted wax up to the desired candle length.
The wax should harden 4 seconds after the wick is removed. Holding the wick at its midpoint, redip the ends into wax then plunge candles into cold water. Repeat until candles reach the desired diameter.
Hang finished candles over a broom balanced on two chair backs, making sure candles don't touch each other. Let them harden for a day in a cool, draft-free spot. With a mat knife, cut off weights, and redip ends to finish taper bottoms.