Dipping is the method of building up layers of wax on a wick. It is one of the oldest methods of making candles. It was especially used in the ancient times by poor families who could not afford candle molds. Candles made by dipping are known as taper candles. Taper candles are similar to pillar candles, except that they are made to fit into special candle holders. Apart from that, taper candles are usually slimmer at the top than at the bottom. A wider bottom allows them to fit into candle holders. Dipped taper candles can be scented or unscented. But since they do not throw off scent well, unscented dipped candles are more common. Colours can also be added.
Taper candles also share advantages and disadvantages with pillar candles. Like the latter, they drip wax onto the surface placed on as they burn. They also need to be carefully watched as they can be easily knocked down. When using them, flammable materials should be kept away for safety. Apart from the wax and wick, most materials to make dipped candles can be gotten from home. This makes dipping candles very affordable, especially for those working with little budgets. It is not also too challenging to make, especially for beginners. Potential difficulties that can arise in making dipped candles are also addressed here. Meanwhile, let us go over the materials needed.
The Materials to Make Taper Candles
Beeswax has been the traditional wax for dipping candles. But lately, paraffin wax has been a good choice too. Melted beeswax is thicker than paraffin and so requires less dipping. However, beeswax is expensive which makes paraffin wax a cost-saving choice. If you will use paraffin wax, avoid types with low melting point. High or medium melting point paraffin wax is suitable for this. But keep in mind that you might need to dip your wick in paraffin wax twice as much as you would do with beeswax to get similar results.
There is no particular recommended type of wick. So the major consideration of this is only in terms of length. It is much better to dip candles in pairs and for this, you can make use of a single wick. Determine the length you want each candle to be, double it and add a few inches (4 inches are mostly recommended). That is, for an eight-inch candle, your wick length should be about 22 inches.
Something to Hold the Wick
You would also need something with which to hold the wick as you dip. Some people prefer to cut out a small part of hard cardboard and cut out a small slit at each end or simply wrap the wick at its midpoint around your finger. The main purpose of this is to make the two ends of the wick not touch each other. So anything you can use to hold the wick to achieve this purpose is appropriate.
Your wicks would also need small weights so that the wick can stand straight as it is being dipped into the wax. Small fishing weights or metal washer nuts can be used for this
Dipped taper candles do not throw off scent well. So it is much better not to use scent at all. Nevertheless, you can add scent if you so wish but do not add much as this can affect the way the candle burns. Colours can also be added but should not be too much. Keep in mind that candles come out a shade lighter than the amount put in the wax. So use just the right amount you need.
Materials generally used at home are all you need next such as a double boiler, a stove, a pair of scissors, a thermometer, a small table knife and a taper candle holder. Paper towels and old newspapers are needed for cleaning. These should be enough for making your dipped candles. After getting all your materials ready, follow the instructions below carefully.
How to Make Taper Candles
Before starting, lay some old newspapers on the surface of your work area. Then fill your double boiler with wax up to the level of the length of the candles you want to make and let it melt. You may have to cut up your wax into small chunks so that it can melt faster. And set your stove to burn at medium heat. Stir the wax gently as it melts. It will be completely transparent when it melts.
Monitor the temperature of your wax with a thermometer. Your wax should be ready for dipping at 160-165°F. If it is hotter than that, the wax would not stick to your wick, and cooler wax is just as bad. Add your fragrance and colour as the wax melts if you want to. Just a little would be all you need. Follow the instructions with your fragrance oil to know the amount you need to add.
You can prepare your wick as the wax melts too. Tie your wick string around the weights (metal washers are good for this) at each end. Then wrap the wick around your finger at midpoint. You can use something else for this. Just make sure it is able to hold your wick well and the two ends would not touch each other.
This is the dipping stage. Before dipping, you might want to measure the width of the candle holder so that you would not make the candles thicker than is needed to fit into the holder. When your wax melts, dip your prepared wick into the wax slowly and pull it out quickly. This might seem difficult at first but as the wick hardens with wax it becomes easy. After pulling it out, then give it some minutes to cool.
To reduce the time for cooling, simply dip the wick into some cold water and pull out also. After this, repeat the same process of dipping and leaving to cool as many times as needed until you arrive at desired thickness. At some point, you may need to cut off the metal washers with a knife, when they must have served their purpose and the candle is reasonably thick enough to be dipped on its own.
As the process goes on, there may be a need for more wax especially if you are making a lot of candles. Simply add some extra wax chunks and reheat it till it melts to its normal temperature. You can add a bit of colour or fragrance if you want too (of course, less than you used at first). If your candles begin to swell at various points, roll it on a smooth surface and continue. Let the wax cool completely before use.
When your candle cools and you are done with dipping, then it is ready for use. Cut the two ends of the wax into two and set each candle on its holder. Trim the wick with a pair of scissors and then you can start burning your candles. If the candle is a little too thick for the holder, simply scrape off some to make adjustment.
The process of making your dipped candles, as you can see, is not difficult. It is a very ancient method but is still relevant for making candles till now. You can make the process more interesting by inviting someone else to work with you. Goodluck!