In areas without electricity, lanterns, candles, and cooking
hearths often provide
the only source of light at night. Candles are easy to make
at home for home
use. With attention to quality control, they can be made in
a small workshop for
sale in the shops and markets.
The directions given here are for dipped candles, which are
made by repeatedly
dipping a length of wick into melted wax until the candle is
the desired size.
Dipped candles often cost more in the shops than other
kinds, but they usually
burn longer and with less smoke. This system, developed by
and Development Agency in South Africa, uses a special jig
that holds up to four
candles at a time.
Tools and Materials
Paraffin wax (you may wish to experiment with bee's wax if
it is available)
Candle wicking (the string inside the candle)
Container to melt the wax (this has to be as deep as the
candles are tall)
Wire for the jig
Thermometer, in a brass case
Rod or rope to hang the candles on while they cool
A gas or kerosene stove
It is suggested that a small business or candle making
cooperative would likely
need to make an initial investment in 40kgs (88 lbs.) of
wax, stearic acid in
quantity to make a ratio of 10 parts wax to 1 part stearic
acid, and 20 wire jigs.
MAKING THE JIGS
A jig is the hanger that holds the wicking while you dip it
into the melted wax.
Make 20 or so jigs for your business. Even working at home
it is convenient to
have a half dozen.
To make the jig, hammer 5 nails
into a piece of wood as shown and
cut off the heads.
Cut one piece of wire 60cm long and one piece 50cm long.
Take the shorter piece of wire and wrap it around the nails
as shown in Figure 1.
Start at nail 1, bend the wire around nail 2 and then up
around nail 3. Then bend
it back to nail 4 and up around
nail 5. Take the wire off the
frame. This is the bottom of the
jig. <see figure 2>
Make the top of the jig with the
longer piece of wire. Bend the wire
around the nails as described
above. You will have some left
over. Bend this part into a hook to
hang up the jig with. Take the
wire off the frame and bend down
the corners as Shown in Figure 3.
Take 4 pieces of wicking, as long
as you want your candles plus a
little bit. Tie one end of each piece
to the top part of the jig and the
other end to the bottom part
(Figure 4). Fix as many jigs as you
think you will need at one time.
PREPARING THE WAX
Cut the wax into small pieces.
Make sure no dirt gets mixed up
with it. Melt enough wax and
stearic acid to fill the container
almost full. Use 1 part stearic acid
to 10 parts wax.
Heat the wax to 70[degrees]C (158[degrees]F). Use
the thermometer to check the temperature.
This is very important. If
the wax is too hot it won't stay on
the candle and if it is too cool the
candle will be lumpy.
The safest way to melt the wax is to set the container with
the wax into a pot
of water so that the wax is not directly over the flame. It
is very dangerous to
let the wax get too hot. Wax catches fire easily, and a wax
fire is difficult to
put out. In case of fire, cover the container and turn off
the stove as quickly as
possible. Be careful not to splash the hot wax It will catch
fire if it falls into
the flame and it will burn your skin if it touches you.
DIPPING THE CANDLES
Take one of the jigs you have put the wicking on and dip it
into the melted wax.
Hang the jig on the rod to cool. Dip another jig with
wicking into the melted
wax and hang it on the rod. When you have dipped all the
jigs you have prepared,
start with the first one and dip again. Each time you dip
the jig a little more
wax will stick to the wick and the candle will get thicker.
Continue dipping until
candles are the size you want. <see figure 1>
Don't handle the candles until they are cool and hard. Then,
cut them off the
jigs. Trim the wicks to an even length. Store candles out of
the sun and away
Put a wide board or plastic sheet under the rod where you
are hanging the jigs.
Any excess wax will drip onto them and you can scrape it off
and melt it down
again. Be sure to keep this area clean; any dirt that gets
in the wax will get into
your candles. The wax that sticks to the metal jigs can also
be scraped off and
Do not dispose of excess melted wax by pouring it down a
drain. When it cools
and hardens it will clog the drain. Besides, any extra wax
can be melted down
and used again. If you find that you have to get rid of a
batch of wax, let it
harden and then throw it away.
If the market is good and you can get the materials, you may
want to try scenting
your candles with essential oils like vanilla or sandalwood.
Or you might try
making colored candles. These oils and pigments must be
specially made for use in
candles, however, and are not always available.
Berold, Robert, and Caine, Collette (eds.). People's
Workbook. Johannesburg, South
Africa: Environmental and Development Agency, 1981.
Simple Methods of Candle Manufacture. London: Intermediate