This article is about beeswax sheet, used in candle making, but it also has some important health and safety information about candles in general.
What is a Beeswax Sheet and What is it Used For?
A sheet of beeswax is what it is! Simple, huh! Seriously folks, these thin sheets are manufactured by specialist companies to make the hobby of beeswax candle making a real joy and not a chore. Forget about melting down a honeycomb, filtering out the debris and going through the laborious process of repeatedly dipping wicks into a vat of melted beeswax; all of this has been done for you. From day one you can concentrate on the creative side – cutting and rolling the beeswax sheet to make a fantastic collection of candles in whatever shape and size you please. I think these candles make fantastic gifts for family, friends and colleagues, because they are something you have created with your own hands, something special and not just any old candle you can buy anywhere. They’re also pretty economical too.
What Else Do I Need to make Candles?
You will also need a sharp knife and a surface to cut the sheet on, such as a cutting board.
You’ll also need to buy wicks for your candles. These are often bought in a roll like string, sold by weight or length. But don’t think you can just use any old string – it won’t burn properly. Also, please NEVER use anything but totally natural wicks, made from cotton or hemp. By the way, hemp is best environmentally, because cotton is typically grown using a large volume of pesticides and it also depletes the soil of nutrients. But that’s just the start. The reason I recommend only natural wicks is because some of the non-natural candle wicks contain metals and even lead, causing very harmful air pollution when they are burned, especially if you burn a lot of candles in a closed room. This brings us to some important safety tips for using candles:
- Candles should be placed where they cannot fall over or be knocked over by things like drapes blowing in the breeze
- Place candles on a non-flamable surface so that the flame won’t ignite your furniture when it reaches the bottom of the candle
- Candles should be out of reach of children and pets – remember that cats are particularly agile and curious!
- Do not leave the candle burning when you go out of the room for more than a few moments – and certainly never go out, or to bed, with a candle still lit. They are romantic in the bedroom but if you fall asleep it may be more than just the romance that is dead!
- Don’t go waving the candle around when it is lit – you’ll give yourself a wax face mask or worse.
- Don’t place candles in a draft because they will not burn properly and may blow over.
- Make sure nothing can fall onto the candle flame, such as papers on a shelf, loose drapes or you.
- Be careful not to lean over a burning candle, or to reach over one. One of our readers recently was standing next to a friend who leaned over one and nearly ignited her long hair! And at festive dinners you can burn your sleeve reaching across a table with burning candles on it.
How To Make Beeswax Candles
Making a simple candle is easy and satisfying. More complex designs require more skill. One sheet will usually make a couple of good-sized candles, but it just depends how big you want the candles and how big the sheet is to begin with, so you will need to experiment. As an example, for a fairly standard 8-inch candle I would use a sheet of 8 x 8 inches. Most sheets are sold in sizes of 8 inches by 4, 8, 12 or 16 inches. Anyway, take your sheet and cut a piece of wick an inch or so longer than what will be the height of the candle. Place the wick about 1/8 inch from the edge you are going to roll up, so there is an overhang of half an inch at each end of the sheet. If the room is much colder than 21 degrees C or 70 degrees F, you will find that the sheet won’t bend easily. If so, get a hair dryer and gently warm the wax a little. You’re not trying to melt it. Then curl the edge next to the wick just up and over the wick, all along the length of the wick, and press it down firmly. After that, you just carry on rolling up that candle! Try not to leave any air gaps because that will make the candle burn too fast. When you have completely rolled up the sheet, trim the excess wick at the base of the candle only! There – you are done!
Buying Beeswax Sheets
If you are making your own candles, look for beeswax sheets that are pure beeswax, and if you are buying the finished product, again, choose candles made entirely from beeswax apart from the wick, which should be cotton, or ideally hemp.
Natural beeswax can be anything from almost white to dark brown in color, and this makes for the most pure and natural product as you would imagine. Buying beeswax sheets with added colors is not as harmful as buying scented candles, but it’s still an additive to this natural product. So, if you want the purest candle, you need to sacrifice some of the color creativity options and stick to the naturally available shades – pale creams through ambers, golds and browns – but that’s up to you.
Whether you buy the beeswax candles ready-made, or you make your own using beeswax sheets, be careful to use reputable suppliers. You are going to trust your good health to them. Ask yourself how much you really know about that foreign manufacturer, or that website selling candles that won’t even give you a phone number. (Note – world-of-honey.com does have an email address and does have a phone number and so on – you know who you are dealing with. Can you say the same about your beeswax sheet supplier or the seller of cut-price candles?)
So now you have the low-down! Get yourself some high-quality pure beeswax sheets and some hemp wick, and you are on the way to creating just about the finest, safest, most environmentally-friendly candles in the world.