by Shaunna Privratsky
Candles come in countless shapes, sizes and scents. From an immense, eight-foot floor candle to the tiniest tealight, candles brighten a room. They are great accent accessories and can add pleasing aroma and warmth when lit. The only drawback is the price of decorative candles has skyrocketed.
There are entire stores devoted to candles, which provides testimony to the popularity and demand for quality candles. The stores offer more and more elaborate creations in wax, charging exorbitant fees.
I love candles but hate high prices. About a year ago, I began making my own candles for decorating and gift giving. It's simple, fun and quite inexpensive. In addition, you receive the joy of creating a captivating candle.
There are only a few components to a candle: the holder, wick and wick holder, and wax. To begin candle making, purchase a pack or two of large metal wick holders and several feet of medium wick string. Discount stores like Wal-Mart or craft supply stores like Michaels carry these items for under $2.
Next, procure a small to medium size, non-stick pot with a plastic or wood handle. It's helpful if it has a built-in pour spout, but not necessary. I found my little pot for 50 cents at a local thrift store.
Gather all your clean, empty containers. Glass is the best kind, as plastic will melt. Since I am a life-long lover of candles and a pack rat, I had tons of empty glass holders. You can also use jelly, mayonnaise and salsa containers to make jar candles. Choose interesting shapes and sizes.
You will need wax to melt to form your new candles. You may have some around your house already! I became frustrated when my larger candles burned only in the middle, leaving a ring of unused wax. A couple of these useless rings were the beginning of my candle creations.
Other sources are purchasing candles on clearance, at thrift or second hand stores and garage sales. Old, dented, faded or damaged candles are perfect, as long as you like the color and scent. Actually, the more banged up the better, because it usually means a better discount.
Now you're ready to begin. Melt the wax in the pot on medium heat, until it is liquefied. Use metal spoons and tools, as plastic melts and wood becomes discolored.
Put paper towels under your containers and work area for easy clean up. While the wax melts, cut a wick for each container and secure in the wick holder by folding under or taping. The wick should stand straight up from the holder and be about an inch shorter than the top of the holder. Place the wick in the center of the container.
Using a ladle, spoon or pour spout, pour melted wax into containers. Let cool for several hours to let the wax harden. Wax will "settle" slightly, so you may want to top off each candle after thirty minutes or so.
You can do several batches of smaller candles, in different colors or shapes of containers. With a paper towel, wipe out the cooled pan after each color to avoid mixing colors.
Once the wax in your new candles has hardened, they are ready for display or gift giving. You can embellish them to your heart's content. For jar candles, spray paint the lids and add ribbons, glitter, crafter's jewels or decorative paint designs. You can make or buy small stencils to make a "set" of candles and package them together in a basket or cool container.
A popular gift idea is three identical black candles. Tie each with raffia and embellish with a gold painted stencil of an oriental word meaning happiness, peace or harmony. You can find the words at the library or on the Internet. Put them together in a miniature wooden crate with a tag explaining the meanings. This would be a perfect housewarming or hostess gift and would be suitable for a man or woman.
Another pleasing idea is adding items to your candles before they are completely cool. Larger candles work best for this project. Wait until the candle is semi-hard, and then press small shells, jewels, shiny pennies or marbles in the wax. Be careful not to press them in too deeply or the hardening wax will cover them. The only limit to making candles is your imagination. No one needs to know how easy and fun candle creations are to make. They will think you spent a fortune on designer candles. Make some candles today and share the joy of a candle celebration.
Shaunna Privratsky is an expert in personal finance. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Please sign up for the free newsletters at The Discount Diva. You can also visit Shaunna on Google+.
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