Light yellow to yellow colour of varying intensity with a fine-grain matt, non-crystalline fracture. Becomes soft and pliable when warmed by hand. Odour faint and characteristic of honey. Relative density is about 0.96. Practically insoluble in water, completely soluble in volatile and fixed oils.
I love the smell of beeswax candles even when they arent burning. They can be quite expensive to buy, so I was really happy when given a chance to make some of my own. The downside is that I dont have any moulds on hand, but I love MacGyver and W. Heath Robinson. Lateral thinking is a survival trait in my opinion so I use it whenever I can. So, living near a beach it made simple sense to make some sand-bowl candles. They are easy to make and quite unusual to give as gifts.
Since the sand around here is quite pale, I grabbed a few bucketloads and spread it out on a tarp in the sun to dry. After stirring it around every 10-15 minutes for an afternoon, it was all dry and I then sorted it out into little buckets, about 2-3 litres in each. A couple of bottle of food colouring in eacg bucket and lots of stirring later I had a range of coloured sands. The next morning they each got their turn out on the drying tarp until the colours had set. Now I was ready.
Each bucket of sand was slightly dampened with water, but only a little, just enough so that it would hold an impression. With firm, even pressure I shoved various shaped objects into the sand and carefully removed them, leaving odd-shaped dents. Using some lengths of old steel strapping I found in the back of the shed, bent into upside-down U shapes to hold the ends of the wick above the level of the wax, I hung the wicks above the centre of each 'mould'.
Now the fun part, using the double-boiler to melt the wax, and stir in some bits of old wax crayons to change the colour a bit. Not much, because I am not a fan of really bright colours in candles. Taking care to keep the wax molten but not burning, I slowly filled each mould layer by layer, letting each coloured layer almost-set before pouring the next one in on top. Keep the layers fairly thin, because as it cools the wax tends to stick to the sides and wick, but dip everywhere else, leaving you with an odd looking top.
Of course, if you had proper moulds that you fill from the bottom, it's not as big a problem, since you can easily fill in the gaps with a few more pourings, but sand-bowl candles are fill-from-the-top type and so looks are important.
After leaving the candles to set for a few days, since it was quite warm weather when I did this, I pulled the candles out of the sand and used an old soft-bristled toothbrush to remove as much loose sand as possible. Because of the way it is done, you still end up with a 'shell' of sand held in place with wax, and that's the point of colouring the sand first, to add to the effect. The end result turned out pretty good for a beginner, and I have plans to try a few experiments, but the wax was really the star of the project. Easy to work with, chemically stable, and with that wonderful smell that I really enjoy. Great stuff, and my only gripe is that to really 'go to town' and play as much as I want to, I would have to buy it in bulk, and that would cost me more than I could realistically afford.
Just like the white wax pelets this wax was really easy to work with. Since I had already made moulded candles I thought I would do something a little different and instead of melting and pouring it I melted it and let it go partly hard again in one big lump which I then moulded by hand. This was a real lot of fun. It was kinda like playdoh meets modelling clay. By working it around the wicking I was able to create some nifty candles no mould could have produced. I was really pleased with my attempt at making a multiple wicked candle in the shape of a hand. OK it looked like an escapee from a voodoo shop but it worked pretty well when I lit it. The yellowish colour worked for the hand so well I think I will be making another one pretty soon. I've played with paraffin wax and now I have played with beeswax and I have to say this stuff is by far the better stuff to work with by far.
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