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Votive candles are small candles that are like a cross between container candles and pillar candles. They are similar to pillar candles in that they are made using molds but like the former, are placed in special containers to burn. While votives are widely used in religious circles, especially by some Christian denominations, they are good materials to decorate the house with.
The containers for votive candles are known as holders, and glass holders are the most common. This is because you can see right through the glass and behold the candle, beauty and all, especially if it is coloured. They are very versatile candles known to burn for a long time. Since they are small, many votive candles are usually made at once which can then be grouped together to burn. The ambience this great.
Also, they are one of the easiest types of candles to make. Homemade votive candles look just as great and burn just as perfect as store-bought ones. They also throw off scent very well and colours can be added too. All these make them a good choice for many people. Even people who are entirely new to candle-making can get the hang of making votive candles at once.
What You Need to Make Votive Candles
It is important to get your materials ready before any project. So I would list the various materials needed for this, what they are used for and how to choose the right ones.
There are waxes suitable for making votives, so you should go for this. Usually, the wax you choose should be a hard type so that the candles would be able to stand alone even though they would be placed in holders. There is no general consensus as to the best wax for this but palm wax should make a good choice, especially considering the fact that they are all natural.
For making votive candles, two methods can be used, depending on the selection of wicks. For just wicks, you should use pre-tabbed wicks. How to use these would be explained later in the article. If you are not using pre-tabbed wicks, then you would need special wick pins. These wick pins are very thin rods designed to make a hole in the wax through which the wicks would be added when the wax cools. The second option, with wick pins, is more popular but you can go for either as they both work well.
There are special candle molds, for making votive candles and they can be purchased at a craft store. Most votive candle molds are made of metal.
Votive Candle Holders
There are special containers like small jars made to hold votive candles. They can be made of glass, metals, ceramics etc. though glass holders are more common and are generally better especially if you would add colour to your candles. However, whatever holder you would use should be able to fit the candle tightly unless you want to waste wax and get lesser burn time than expected. Also, since votive candles are small candles, the containers to hold them are usually taller. Keep this in mind.
For adding colours, dye chips or liquid dyes can be used, as you please. Fragrance oils can be purchased around and you may not need more than 4-6% fragrance loading. If you would add dyes or fragrance, make sure it is not too much, especially fragrance. Too much fragrance can affect candle burn negatively.
Apart from a double boiler and a stove as needed for making other types of candles, you would also need a special pouring pot for making votive candles. Other traditional candle making supplies needed are a thermometer, a wooden spoon (or rubber spatula), some old newspapers and paper towels for cleaning.
How to Make Votive Candles
The actual candle making process is next.
Set up your work surface by laying old newspapers on it. This is to protect the surface from wax spills. After this, melt your wax in a double boiler for some minutes. If you are using ordinary wicks with wick pins, then you should place your wick pins in the molds, centred. You would put in your wicks later. The wick pins would make sure that there is space in the wax through which your wicks can be inserted.
For pre-tabbed wicks, you do not need to do anything now. Just watch your wax melt and stir gently as it does. Add fragrance and colour dyes as your wax melts. As mentioned above, just add little. And for fragrance, follow specific instructions that come with the package.
The next step is the pouring stage. For votives, appropriate pouring temperature should be about 175°F. When the wax completely melts and is at this temperature, using your pouring pot, fill each votive mold with wax to the top, but do not let it spill over.
As usual with other candle-making methods, save some wax for later use. If you are using pre-tabbed wicks, let your wax cool for a period of time before inserting your wicks. Make sure it is centred and straight. After inserting the wick, wait for some time and straighten it gently if it is not straight.
As the wax cools, it begins to shrink and you would notice a sinkhole appearing. Leave the wax to cool for a few hours then reheat the leftover wax to a temperature about 10° above the first pour temperature and pour on the top of the wax. Pour to just the level of the first pour for best effect and then let the wax cool. This could take up to 24 hours or you can simply leave it overnight.
When the wax melts completely, it should be very hard and be easy to remove from the mold. If it does not come right out of the mold, place it in the freezer for some minutes. That does the trick. If you used wick pins, turn the candle over on its head, tap the wick pin gently a few times until it comes off. Then insert your wick into the thin hole created.
Trim the wicks as necessary and your candles are ready. Place them in votive candle holders to burn. Votive candles are meant to be burnt in holders and not free standing. Take note of this.
Enjoy your candles!