And here’s part two of my soapmaking and candlemaking journey – candlemaking. Inspired by the same goal to reduce our household chemical exposure from products used daily, I’ve wanted to explore beeswax candlemaking using natural wood wicks and essential oils for a healthy alternative to paraffin candles.
Candlemaking with Beeswax + Wood Wicks
I was introduced to beeswax over ten years ago when I was working for a transformational healer and homeopath. Beeswax offers many wonderful benefits in comparison to petroleum-rich paraffin candles, plus they help support local beekeepers, who are helping to keep more of nature’s little helpers in our ecosystem. Beeswax burns the longest and cleanest of any candle, and offer a unique honey scent. Compared to paraffin or even vegetable-based candles, they actually clean the air and act as an air purifier and detoxifier. I was introduced to them for their spiritual properties, though I was attracted to them primarily for their functional use and air cleaning properties.
The one challenge I find with store-bought beeswax candles is that beyond being uber expensive, they generally have cotton-based wicks. If you’ve looked into candle toxicity, wicks are one of the biggest contributors to creating unhealthy indoor air. Many scented candles have lead-based wicks, or wicks with lead in them, which when burned, release carcinogenic chemicals into the air, and have been linked to respiratory issues and even cancer. While there are some good wick options out there, one can never really tell without specific notes about the wick origins from the manufacturer, which are often left off of the packaging.
The final step was fragrance. As I mentioned in the soapmaking post, fragrance is proprietary and manufactures are not required to release the chemical constituents. Unfortunately this often means that they are comprised of toxic chemicals which when burned, along with paraffin and lead-based wicks, can turn any indoor air toxic within minutes. I am a huge fan of essential oils for their healing properties and fragrance, so I thought the perfect mixture would be an untreated wood wick and organic beeswax with essential oils.
To get started, I ordered a couple pounds of beeswax pellets from an organic farmer on Etsy. I purchased a few sizes of wooden wicks from Wooden Candle Wick, and because of the uncertainty of wooden wicks, I also purchased some untreated cotton wicks for testing, and then used essential oils I had purchased for soapmaking for added fragrance. I had also been saving up jars and glass containers from jams, candles and various gifts, which I used as the candle housing/containers (I always feel bad about throwing out old candle containers, so it’s a really great way to re-use these over and over). Candlemaking is a relatively simple process which involves melting the pellets, placing the wicks in the jars (and wood wicks are super easy since they come with heavy metal bases that stay in place during pouring), adding essential oils and pouring into the jars. All-in-all the process takes about 20 minutes for prep and pour and a day for cooling. The candles last a long time – I’ve been burning the one of the original poured candles for over a month! The only challenge is that you need a lot of essential oil to compete with the honey scent. For now, I’ve decided to omit the essential oils as it’s not very cost effective, but am super happy with the entire process! And the best part, the total cost is about 50% less than you would pay for beeswax candle at the store.
How did your beeswax candles with wooden wicks turn out? Did you have any problems with them? Did you end up using the cotton? I’m trying desperately to find an alternative to the cotton wicks with my beeswax candles and was hopeful based on what you wrote here. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Hi there, I also struggled with the wooden wicks. So far the most success I’ve had was doubling them up, it does help keep the burning even and increases the burning longevity. I couldn’t burn a single wood wick for longer than a few minutes without the wax taking over or the wick burning down too fast. While double-wicking helps, it isn’t 100% (still requires re-lighting every once in a while), but I too have the same desire, so in comparison to other wicks, it was worth a few times of re-lighting for me.
Thanks for your reply. I am wanting to make the wooden wicks myself and am still trying to figure that one out. Have you made any of your own?
I haven’t tried to make my own, but that sounds really intriguing. One of the things I’ve noticed with store bought is even with double-wicking, the wood wicks are very thin and burn very quickly. The flame seems to spread quickly from end to end of the wick, and the challenge I’ve had is getting the wicks to burn consistently and evenly. I’d guess that a twig or small more circular wood wick might be more conducive for even burning. I’ll do some experimenting and provide any updates if I have success. Love the thought!