By Jason Hewett, Lubicom Staff
Chanukah was the first time I can remember that mother got my sister and me to stop fighting. My sister thought Chanukah candles should be yellow because that was the color of light. I wanted blue because… well… I liked blue.
“That’s it,” Mom said. “This year, we’re making our own Chanukah candles, and you can both make whatever colors you like.
We were excited to find out how candles were made. Turns out there are many ways to make Chanukah candles, all of them relatively easy and fun.
Homemade Candle Wick
You can easily buy candle wicks, or you can use household items. Butcher’s twine works really well, and so will any sort of braided cotton string. You could use wood, like toothpicks, but those usually aren’t long enough for your candles. It’s not recommended to use yarn or old clothing, because it may not burn evenly and you don’t want to burn bleach or chemicals used to color the fabric.
Candle Wax Sheets
Making candles with candle wax sheets is a great introduction to DIY candle making. This method is completely safe as it requires no external heat, so you can involve children of all ages.
- Scissors or knife and ruler
- Candle wicks
- Warm hands
1. Cut your wax sheets and wicks to desired lengths. Your wicks should be longer than the wax sheets. Remember you can always trim later!
2. Place the wicks on the edge of the wax sheet closest to you, and roll the sheet over the wick as close and tight as possible.
3. Use the warmth of your hands to seal the fold of the wax – this is a great job for younger kids who might not be able to roll the wax sheets properly.
4. Trim any excess wick and make sure the base of your candle will fit in your Menorah. If the candle is too large, you can slice off excess wax and roll it again to smooth out the angles.
Melted and Dip
This is a more traditional method of making candles that’s great for making a large number of candles. You need 44 in total for all 8 nights of Chanukah, so this is the way to go if you want them all to be homemade!
- A crock pot, slow cooker, wax melter, or regular pot with warm water to melt the wax. (alternatively, some like to melt the wax in a specially designed wax melting pot)
- Block(s) of wax for melting
- A bucket of cold water
- Buttons (one for each candle, some wicks come with these pre-attached)
- Candle wicks
- A paint stirrer or rectangular block of wood
1. First prepare the wicks. Tie the ends of the wicks to buttons of equal weight, and drape them over your rack. Be sure the ends of each wick are equal weight.
2. Space the wicks out evenly – you’ll want to make sure you can dip them all at the same time. You can secure the wicks to the top of the rack with tape.
3.Melt your wax. Place each block of wax in a heatsafe container and place in water that is nearly boiling. Remove once the wax is liquified.
4. Dip the candles in the melted wax. You should see a thin layer of wax clinging to the wick and the button. Immediately dip them in the cold water, and you should see the layer solidify. Dip again in the melted wax for another layer, then in the water. Repeat until the candles are of the desired thickness.
5. Hang the candles to dry for about a minute. Cut off the buttons and excess wick, and they’re ready to go!
If you’re looking for uniqueness in your candles (and a bit of a challenge), try your hand at twisted candles. Twisted candles can be difficult to pull off, but they’re safe to experiment with. Just make sure you cover your work surface with newspaper or tin foil for easy cleanup!
- Warm (not hot) water
- Cold water
- A rolling pin (or chopsticks for smaller candles)
1. Soak the candles in warm water for three to five minutes. Time varies depending on the temperature of the water and your environment and the quality of the candles. The idea is to soften the candles just a little bit – if the candles start to melt in the water, it’s either too hot or you’ve left them in too long.
2. Once the candles are softened, you should be able to gently bend them into new shapes. Go slow and don’t bend them too much or they might snap! If that happens, you might be able to smooth over your mistakes by dabbing your finger in the warm water and massaging the wax back into place.
3. For twisted candles, when you remove them from the hot water you want to press down on the center slowly but firmly. Don’t flatten the candles completely – just make a bit of a flat surface.
4. Twist the candles as desired.
5. Once you’ve formed them into the shape you want, dip them in cold water to seal.
Making your own candles for Chanukah is a great way to bring more color to your home. Whatever colors your candles are, may they burn bright and bring you joy this Chanukah season!