a Candle Making Business
Candles have been used for centuries
and as a business candle-making has enjoyed a long and varied
history. Despite decades of technological improvements in
most industries, the very best candles and the most expensive
are still made by hand. Candle-making represents a very
profitable and enjoyable opening for modern day craftworkers,
especially as Christmas approaches and candles are purchased for
decorative and functional purposes.
The best candles are made from
beeswax, sometimes in their entirety, sometimes with beeswax
added to man-made ingredients. Beeswax is compulsory in
church candles, the amount varying between churches and their
ruling bodies. Though it gives a better end result,
beeswax is generally too expensive for candles designed for home
Less costly designs such as those you
see selling at craft fairs and fleamarkets can be created from
synthetic waxes available from craftshops and specialist
suppliers. A tiny amount of beeswax added to artificial
wax improves the appearance and fragrance of your candle.
Beeswax can be obtained from most local beekeepers' associations
and from specialist suppliers like Thornes (Beehives) Ltd.
Candlemaking equipment and synthetic materials are available in
most craft shops where you will also find a wide selection of
useful instruction books.
Simple designs are
easy to make and only when you begin to experiment with texture,
colour and shape does the task become more difficult.
Popular marketable designs including unusual shapes, layers of
different colours, odd textures, chunky designs, candles
decorated with sequins and beads, hand-painted types and novelty
shapes like Santas at Christmas, eggs at Easter, witches at
Halloween. The real secret of success in this business is
to make your designs different, hopefully unique. This
blueprint is designed for the newcomer, who should supplement
his knowledge by careful market research, noting what the
competition is doing, and what new designs and marketing methods
can be incorporated into his own business.
A Few Simple
Depending on the
size you want your candle to be, take a piece of beeswax and
melt it in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water.
Take a piece of wick and dip it in the wax up to the required
length. Remove the wick and dip it again. Do this
repeatedly, allowing the wax to build up in layers until it
reaches the desired thickness. When complete, hang the
candle by the wick in a cool place to harden. Coloured
candles can be made from pre-dyed wax or by giving a white
candle a final dip in coloured wax. If beeswax is too
expensive or hard to find, use synthetic wax instead.
Prepare a large
clean workspace without bumps or ridges. Cover with craft
paper. Have all the necessary equipment at hand ruler,
scissors, pins, decorations, wicks, cutters (biscuit cutters are
useful), craftwax sheets. Lay out the craftwax sheets and
leave to warm to room temperature.
For a really
simple candle, cut a piece of wick an inch longer than you want
your candle to be and lay it along one side of the wax sheet,
about 1/8th inch from the edge. Leave the extra inch of
wick protruding at the top of the 'finished' candle. Very
carefully, fold the edge of the wax over the wick. Smooth
into place and give a gentle tug to make sure the wick is
properly in place. Keep rolling the wax around the wick
until you reach the desired thickness. Cut the wax and
smooth out the edges and joins. Store somewhere cool, not
cold, and out of direct sunlight.
Using Blocks of Wax
Boil some water in
a double boiler, adding blocks of wax to the upper pan.
Simmer constantly until the wax is melted. Stir in 3
tablespoons of stearin to every 450g of wax. After the
stearin has dissolved stir in a dye or colouring of your choice.
Prepare a mould. A simple container is best with a hole
added to the bottom through which the wick is passed and knotted
on the underside. Spray the inside of the mould with
silicone spray to make the candle easier to remove. With
the mould standing upright, wrap the wick around a pencil or rod
so the wick remains taut and centred. Arrange the rod
lengthwise across the mould. Pour the wax from the pan
into a glass jug and fill the mould slowly to prevent bubbles
forming in the mixture. Leave to stand in a bucket of cold
water to the height of the wax and use a heavy object to keep
the candle stable. After 30 minutes remove the weight and
check the wax has set. Remove the candle from the mould
and store somewhere safe.
makes your candles stand out from the rest is likely to increase
your profits. Look for unusual designs and colours and try
to create something unique.
The chunky effect
is obtained from embedded pieces of different coloured wax that
are visible through the walls of the candle. Hardened
blocks of wax are arranged in the mould, leaving spaces for the
melted wax to settle into. The effect can be stunning,
especially where several colours are used.
To make a
vertically striped candle, begin with a candle made of one
colour. Remove it from the mould and leave to cool.
Apply masking tape vertically down the candle, depending on the
width you want your stripes to be. Pour a tiny amount of
dyed wax in a large shallow container (a swiss roll tin or
painting tray is useful). Now roll your candle over the
wax, covering the sides evenly. Remove from the tray,
being careful not to get wax on the top of your candle.
Leave to cool before removing the strips.
make excellent moulds, especially for candles with an Easter
design and obvious popularity at seasonal craft fairs. One
egg is needed for every candle and careful cleaning is
essential. To prepare the mould, make a hole about 1/2
inch in diameter in the large end of a raw egg. Pierce the yolk
with a skewer or knitting needle and allow the contents to
drain. Wash the inside thoroughly and stand the egg on a
piece of kitchen towel until completely dry. Stand your
eggs in an egg box for stability and insert the wicks leaving a
long piece to trail at the top. Fill with melted wax and
leave to set. Chip away the shells and decorate to finish.
different coloured wax are attractive and colours can be chosen
to reflect the season or special occasion red, white and green
for Christmas; rust, orange and brown for autumn; different
shades of pink or blue for a new baby, and so on. In
layered candles, each colour is poured after the previous one
has hardened, producing either horizontal or angled layers,
depending on the angle of the mould. Time allowed between
pouring successive layers is crucial. The previous layer
must be set before another is added or the colours will mix.
Make sure the wick is properly in place when the mould is
arranged at an angle.
Candle-Making Tips and Techniques
Make your own moulds from everyday household items like milk
cartons, eggs, rubber balls and jelly moulds.
Be careful when choosing your wick. If the wick is too
thick, the candle will smoke. If the wick is too thin the
candle won't last long.
whether you want to sell your candles yourself or have others
market them for you. Candles sell well at craft
fairs, by mail order, through gift and souvenir shops, through
garden centres, and other retail outlets. Many
candle-makers offer their goods for others to sell on a
sale-or-return basis; some offer low volume wholesale packages
with prices reducing for larger sales.
As you become more
proficient you might consider working to commission, literally
designing and producing candles exclusively for regular buyers.
Restaurants, hotels, stately homes, souvenir shops and tourist
centres are likely markets for exclusive designs.
Commissioned designs offered by one very successful
Herefordshire-based firm include birthday candles with signs of
the zodiac (recipients' name and date of birth included as an
optional extra); wedding candles with partners' names and
wedding date painted in gold; engraved local views and
landmarks, and much more. Local landmarks and tourist
attractions are particularly good sellers through souvenir
shops, restaurants and hotels, and are usually made to
commission. Most of this firm's candles are made using
moulds and finished by hand. This is one of several firms
for which the bulk of business comes through commissions,
particularly at Christmas with customers looking for unusual,
more personal gifts for family and friends. Firms'
advertising messages can also be incorporated into candles,
making this a popular alternative to gifts traditionally chosen
by firms to promote their trade mugs, diaries, calendars,
wallcharts, and so on.
Keep your eyes
open for new and unusual ways to market your work. For
candles might be introduced into other businesses. The
gift basket service is a useful example, many of which package
gourmet foods, trinkets, champagne and high class confectionery,
but rarely candles for the celebration dinner.
high-pedestrian tourist areas, like stately homes, museums,
tourist attractions. Offer to make candles for them,
incorporating maps, advertising messages, pictures,
announcements, scenes, etc.
targetable groups to make and market to. Collectors are a
useful example. People interested in collecting teddy
bears, dolls, pigs and frogs might also be interested in candle
designs to reflect their hobby. Model cottages represent
another product currently selling well in resin and pottery form
but rarely offered in wax.
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