The pandemic has given me time to tinker with my recycled beeswax votive candle recipe. I’ve found that pure beeswax votives extinguish themselves quickly by drowning the wick in melted wax. I solved this problem by using thicker wicks and adding coconut oil to the beeswax.
I also learned not to use a double boiler to melt beeswax. It’s too difficult to clean the pan, making it useless for cooking. I save the remains of any beeswax candles that have burned themselves out and toss them into a clean, empty metal can I save for that purpose.
When the can is full of wax, I place it on a baking pan in a 200 degree F oven, and allow the wax to melt. I put about 2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil into each regular 15.5-oz can three-quarters filled with melted beeswax.
An issue with beeswax is that it has a tendency to “tunnel” down the center of the votive, leaving a lot of wax unburnt. Adding a quantity of coconut oil to the beeswax makes it softer so it liquefies on the top of the candle, instead of melting close to the wick, creating a tunnel.
Figuring out how much coconut oil to add to the beeswax is tricky. I tried adding about a tablespoon per cup of beeswax, but that wasn’t enough. I added 1/4 cup coconut oil to a cup of beeswax, and that was too much. The wax melted too quickly. A rough rule of thumb is 2 tablespoons for 3/4 cup of melted beeswax.
In truth, I also throw in the remains of my organic vegetable wax-based candles, so the mixture isn’t exact. You’ll need to experiment to find out what works for you. But the vegetable-based candle wax (likely soy) does change the chemistry a bit.
When I started making votives, I used wicks I purchased at the craft store. They were too thin, so burned too quickly right into the pool of melted wax and extinguished themselves. I went online and purchased #4 square braid cotton wicks, along with metal candle wick tabs with a 5mm hole. The holes in the metal tabs are a bit large for the #4 wicks, but I use a pair of pliers to squeeze the opening tightly around the end of the wick.
When you’re thrifty as I am (I can’t stand throwing anything away), you’ll find you save unwanted things too, like the old wicks left in the stumps of the beeswax candles. Fortunately, this debris sinks to the bottom of the can of melted beeswax. I pour the beeswax through a double piece of cheesecloth that I affix to another clean, empty can with a rubber band. The wax solidifies on the cheesecloth, so you need to work quickly, but it does filter out anything un-pretty that you don’t want to find in the finished votives.
Cut the wicks about two inches taller than the votives you plan to use, then dip them into the melted wax to stiffen them. I also dip the bottoms of the wicks and set them down inside clear glass votives. The wax affixes the tabs to the bottom of the votive. I wrap the top of the wick around a pencil or a chopstick, then pour the hot wax into each votive.
It’s important to make sure the votives don’t cool too quickly. I turn my oven to 200 degrees, then turn it off, and put the votives on a metal pan inside the oven to cool for a couple days. If they cool too quickly, beeswax votives have a tendency to crack.
Recycled Beeswax Votives - Updated
Save and reuse old beeswax by melting it down in a clean metal can, and pouring it into votives. Use #4 cotton braided wicks for the best results.
- Newspaper or brown paper
- Old beeswax candles
- Coconut oil
- 2 clean, empty metal cans
- #4 braided cotton wicks.
- Metal candle wick tabs with 5mm holes (or slightly smaller)
- Glass votives or small, clean glass jars
- Toothpicks, pencils, chopsticks or wooden skewers
- Rubber bands
- Small plastic or metal funnel used only for this purpose (optional)
Cover your workspace with newspaper or brown paper to make cleanup easier in case of spills.
Turn the oven to 200 degrees F.
Put the beeswax into a metal can, and set the can on a baking sheet.
Put the beeswax into the oven, and allow it to melt. Stir it on occasion with a wooden skewer or chopstick.
The wax should melt in about 20 minutes to half an hour. More wax will take longer to melt.
Meanwhile, cut the wicks to about 2" taller than the votives.
Using pliers, crimp the metal candle wick tabs around the ends of the wicks.
Remove the wax from the oven, and dip the the wicks into melted wax.
Place the wicks on a baking sheet covered in waxed paper to cool.
Put the wax back in the oven so it stays liquid.
When the wicks are cool, remove the wax from the oven.
Pick up each wick and dip the tab end into the melted wax.
Immediately affix the tab to the bottom of the votive. Repeat for all the votives.
Twist the top of the wicks around toothpicks, chopsticks or wooden skewers.
Secure two thicknesses of cheesecloth over the top of a clean, empty metal can.
Pour the liquid beeswax through the cheescloth into the can to filter out any debris and old wicks.
Discard the cheesecloth.
Put the beeswax back into the oven for a few minutes if it's starting to harden.
Once the beeswax has melted completely, remove it from the oven, and, using an oven mitt or tongs, carefully pour it into each votive. You may need to use a small funnel reserved only for this purpose. If the funnel clogs, use a wooden skewer to clear the wax. Beeswax sets up fast, so you have to work quickly.
Place the votives in a warm place (inside an oven that's been heated to 200 degrees for 5 minutes, then turned off works well) for 2 days to cure. If the beeswax votives cure in a cold place, they may crack.
Trim the wicks to the height of the top of the votives, or no more than 1/2 inch.
You can reuse beeswax many times, so save those un-burnt ends to make more votives!
You can also melt the beeswax on the top of a double boiler over low heat. Use a pan you don't want to cook with ever again, because it will be very difficult to remove all the melted beeswax. Stir the melting wax with a disposable plastic spoon, chopstick or wooden skewer you can throw away.
I use #4 braided cotton wicks, which are thick enough to not burn out before the beeswax melts and drowns them. I affix the wicks to metal tabs that have a 5mm hole.
Cut the wicks about 2″ higher than the votives. Use pliers to crimp the tabs to the wick.
A smaller hole in the tab would work better, but I bought 200 of these tabs with a 5mm hole, so I’m not going to let them go to waste!
Dip the wicks in melted wax to stiffen them.
Let the wicks cool on a baking sheet covered with waxed paper.
Dip the bottoms of the wicks in the melted wax, and affix the wick to the bottom of the votive.
Wrap the end of the wick around a pencil, chopstick or toothpick.
Pour the melted wax into the votives. Put the votives into an oven that’s been turned on to 200 degrees F, then turned off. Allow the votives to cool for a couple days in the oven.
Trim the wicks, and light the votives. They should burn for several hours. If there’s any unused beeswax left, toss it back into the can and make more votives!