Re-Posted from www.penncrofthomestead.com
Summer is in full swing and as much as I enjoy the long days and warm weather, I could do without all the bugs that come with it. Blech. This season has been particularly gnatty around us and even though I employ my chickens to eat as many pesky insects as they can, it’s not enough to keep them away. Emily and I have been talking about making citronella candles for such purposes as bug defenses and we finally got to work!
As you can imagine, we’re not fans of chemical laced bug spray, work as it may. We’d much rather start off with some herbal smelling citronella candles, perfect for outdoor ambiance and a natural defense system. Making them yourself is pretty simple, it just requires a few candle making tools, then you’re set to make candles all year round!
- Beeswax (you could get a paraffin or soy wax, but the beeswax smells so sweet and burns nicely)
- a metal wax melting pot
- a roll of wicking
- metal wick ends
- mason jars (we used the small 4oz Ball quilted jelly jars)
- citronella essential oil
We had to take an additional step in our candle making process because the large chunk of beeswax I had was from my aunt’s bees and wasn’t filtered. When you get beeswax, unfiltered, it’s full of bee debris, so we first needed to strain that out.
We cut the wax into chunks and added them to our melting pot over the stove. We made a double boiler set up and put our wax pot in another pot of hot water for more gentle melting.
Once it liquefied, under a watchful eye, we poured it out over a glass bowl covered in a sheer used pantyhose. The pantyhose do a good job of filtering out all the unwanted bits. We returned some wax to the pot to melt for the candles, but the majority went into a bread pan mold to harden for later use.
While the wax is melting, we prepped our little mason jars with a length of wick and a wick end. The wick ends are metal circles that pinch the wick to help it stay in place. We used jewelry pliers to pinch the metal around the wick then dipped the metal portion into the hot wax and centered them in the bottom of the jars. The wax dries relatively quickly and anchors the wick.
When the wax is completely melted we added a few ounces of citronella oil, bugs least favorite scent. The general rule of thumb is using about an ounce per pound of wax. So weigh your wax before you start. Honestly we guesstimate about how much wax is needed for a certain amount of vessels. If you have extra wax leftover, get out another jar!
We carefully poured the wax down the wick of the candle so the wax adheres to the wick well. While the wax is still liquid, center the wicks. They’ll begin to harden right way, but will take at least an hour to harden completely and return to it’s rich golden hue.
And that’s it! Now you just need to clean up which is no small feat. Beeswax is a, um, challenge to remove from surfaces. The only way to remove it, is to heat up the object again and wipe away the wax in it’s liquid state. Because of this, we recommend you have designated candle making supplies, rather than doubling up with everyday kitchen ware, like I did. There still seems to be a thin film of wax on everything – lesson learned!
Light your candles outside to see just how effective they are! These would also make adorable hostess gifts for a summer BBQ. Screw the lid top back on and just add some ribbon!