There is a tradition of making a wish at the Winter Solstice, of burning pieces of paper with wishes or affirmations written on them. When creating a Winter Solstice candle, you will infuse the molten wax with your wish or intent and release it with the burning of the candle.
This is a very basic recipe for creating candles at home using scraps of old wax or wax purchased from a craft store. It is designed for simplicity and to use items found in most kitchens.
Using recycled wax from spent candles is a bit of an adventure. Since wax type and quality varies, one good way for beginners to get started is to take one very large candle that has burned down, such as the large three-wick type, and make many smaller votives from it. Certain waxes will be harder or softer than others so to be safe always burn recycled candles in a heat-proof container. For example, wax designed to be burned in a container has a lower melting point and should never be used to create a votive or pillar candle. When mixing waxes, your candles may be harder or softer than you expect. When purchasing wax from a craft store to make votives, buy the type of wax for molded candles.
The wax chunks should be small to medium-sized for quicker melting. A good way to break up large blocks of wax is to place the wax in a plastic bag and use a hammer to break it. This is best done outdoors on a safe surface.
There are generally three sizes, small, medium, and large. The packages indicate what candle size each type is used for. Paper cup size is about 1—to 2 inches in diameter. Small or medium wicking works best. Ideally, your candle will burn evenly all the way down. If you use wicking that's too large, you may end up with a runny mess. Wicking that is too small will cause the candle to burn down in the middle but leave an outer shell. This is often a desired effect since there's less chance of a mess. However, a hole could form in the shell and liquid wax could still spill through.
Medium wicking is the best choice for the paper cup style votive. But, you still may not get perfect burning, especially when using recycled wax. When mixing wax you never know what results you'll get so always burn these types of candles in a safe container.
Creating the Candle
Add a couple inches of warm tap water to the pot and place it on the stove. Put the chunks of wax in the carafe (or can) and place the carafe inside the pot of water. This simulates a double boiler. Bring the water to a gentle boil—the water should remain at a low but steady boil to avoid water splashing up into the wax. Once the water is hot and the wax begins melting, adjust the temperature so the water stays hot, but not boiling.
Use the thermometer to monitor the temperature of the wax. You must use a high-temperature thermometer—the kind used for making hard candy is ideal. If your thermometer has a clip you can attach it to the side of the carafe or can. Add water to the pot as needed—be careful not to let the pot boil dry. If your pot is large enough, you can melt several different colors at the same time by using two or three small soup cans. Use caution when handling these as they will become hot. Use an oven mitt or towel.
While you're waiting for the wax to melt, cut your wicks to the appropriate length, a little taller than the rim of the cup. When the wax in the carafe is melted, carefully dip the wicks into it so all but the tip you're holding is immersed in the wax, and lay them on waxed paper or a cookie sheet to dry. This is called priming the wicks and makes them stiff and easier to work with.
Stir the wax occasionally as it is melting. When the wax reaches pouring temperature, about 160 degrees F°, remove the carafe from the water and place it on a heat-proof surface.
Now is the time to focus your intent and make your wish. Visualize your need being absorbed into the molten wax and make your Solstice wish or affirmation. At this time add the ground frankincense resin and stir the wax a few more times. Then, pour the wax into the mold(s) you have selected.
You may cast a circle for this process if you like, but just remember not to let the wax cool down. If you decide to create a longer ritual for creating your candle, leave the pot in the water until you’re ready to pour the wax.
If you've made a large batch of wax, create one candle for your personal Solstice wish by using special intent for pouring your candle, and then use this simple chant for the rest of the candles, to be given as gifts or saved for later:
Molten wax, take shape anew,
Use caution when pouring to prevent wax from dripping onto the burner and catching flame. Always wipe the lip of the carafe or can after pouring and remember to wear your oven mitt. I have found it helpful when using cans to squeeze one side of the can to a point to make pouring easier. Be sure to reserve some liquid wax and keep it warm, as it will be needed later to "top-off" the candles. Wait about twenty minutes, or until the wax in the molds begins to form a thin "skin" on top, and then stick the wick down into the wax; even without a wick tab it will adhere to the bottom of the cup, where the wax is beginning to thicken. Make sure your wick is centered. The wick should be able to stand up on its own. If it doesn't, then the wax isn't thick enough yet. Wait a bit longer before trying to insert the wick.
As the candles cool, a well will probably form around the wick causing the candle to appear sunk in the center. This is normal since wax shrinks as it cools. Simply pour a thin layer of wax over the top. Repeat this process as desired until the candles are cool and nearly level on top. The entire process could take several hours to complete. Of course, if you don't care how the candle looks, don't worry about topping it off. Although I recommend at least topping it off once since the wick could lean over if you don't. Each time you pour, try to keep the wax the same temperature. Differences in pouring temperature can change the finished texture of the wax.
Clean Up & Finishing the Candle
When candles are cool, carefully peel off the paper cup. It's best to wait several hours, or overnight. Trim the wick to about 1/4 inch and they're ready! Remember: Wax is very forgiving! You can always melt it down and start over if you don't like the results.
These solstice candles also make great gifts, and your personal energy will make them extra special. Color suggestions for the winter solstice include yellow (to welcome the sunlight), white, red, or green. Tie a decorative ribbon around the candle and use a gift tag to announce the candle as a symbol to welcome the returning light. Don't forget to have the gift recipient make a solstice wish when lighting the candle.
Ember Grant is a full time English professor and teaches writing, poetry, and literature. She has been writing for Llewellyn for more than twenty years and is the author of numerous articles and four books: Mythology for a ...