One of the great joys of beekeeping for Earl Flewellen is having fresh, fragrant beeswax on hand for making candles. Given as gifts, the candles reliably cause the happy recipients to go straight to smelling them. The laborious process of rendering beeswax from raw comb cappings is described in the online version of this magazine so we can go straight to the fun . . .
Makes about 8 to 12 candles, depending on size of molds
1-pound brick beeswax*
Small crimped mini tartlet baking cups (Available at Sur La Table)
Premade 1¼- to 1½-inch votive wicks*
Metal steaming pitcher or ladle with spout
Melt beeswax in a double boiler or a crockpot. Heat beeswax to 145–150°. (If heated to 185° it will discolor and at 400° it may ignite.)
While the wax is melting, prepare work area by covering with tin foil or craft paper to protect surfaces from wax spillage.
Prepare molds (tartlett cups) by lightly brushing the interiors with vegetable oil using a small basting brush or paintbrush to get oil down into the crimps and corners. (If you don’t mind leaving the votives in the cups, you can omit this step.)
Place pre-made wicks in the molds, centering them in the bottom.
Once the wax is completely melted, either gently ladle it directly into the molds or, for less mess, first pour melted wax into a metal steaming-pitcher with a spout and then pour the wax into the molds.
Allow the molds to sit undisturbed for about 20 minutes at room temperature. Once cooled, candles are ready for use. If you want to remove the votives from the molds, wait until the wax has pulled away from the sides of the molds and is completely solid. Then tug on the wicks to pull the candles from their molds. If there is resistance, briefly submerge the bottoms of the molds in a bath of hot tap water for 10 to 15 seconds and tug again. They should easily release.
*Find beeswax at Bee Healthy Honey Shop in Oakland and MarElla Honey Bees in Concord. Juniper Tree Supplies in Berkeley has beeswax, wicks, molds, and many other candlemaking supplies.