Do you have a season where most or many of the birthdays are concentrated in your family? We do! Many of the birthdays in our family (immediate and extended) occur in September/October and December. Earlier this school year, we did a short unit study (Charlotte Mason style) on pioneers and the candle-dipping craft fit in perfectly. Since we were in the midst of our birthday season, we made our candles into birthday cake candles. They ended up being about 2 1/2" with a small diameter. I love their homemade look...and, of course, the fact that they are made of pure beeswax, so I won't be hearing about them on the evening news!
It couldn't be simpler. First of all, we got out our fondue pot. (We never use this particular pot because I don't think it is designed with large families in mind.) I filled it partway with water that I had brought to a boil in a kettle. Next, I placed chopped beeswax into a cleaned tomato paste can, adding more as it melted down. I used this size of can because it was about the length I wanted our candles to be and it had a fairly small diameter. If you use too big a container, you will have to melt tons of beeswax to bring the height up. I covered a table with paper and placed the pot in the centre.
Next, I took a length of wick, twice the size I wanted the candles to be, plus a bit to hang over our homemade lincoln logs. I dipped the wick on both ends one time, letting it drip back into the can. As it started to cool, I pulled it out tight to straighten it, so that the candle would end up straight. If you just let the kids start dipping, the wick will be all wonky. After it had a minute to cool, we were ready to go. I hung the double wicks over the lincoln log and gave them to the kids.
Now, you can see that for our 4yodd, the two candles are sticking together. We found out that for the littlest ones, it seems better to just tie one wick at a time on the lincoln log (or use a pencil) because they have trouble holding the stick straight so that the candles hang down and don't touch. Anyway, we walked around in a circle, each taking a turn to dip our candle(s) as we got to a certain spot. This works well because if you dip the candle before the last layer has had a chance to cool a little, it will just melt the previous layer. Also, it is important to just dip in and out quickly, not let the candle linger in the wax, otherwise the candle will also melt. Some people like to repeat a little poem as they walk around the table. You will need to top up the wax as it is used up to keep up the height inside the can. At the end, you will have leftover wax inside the can. You can leave this to cool and then melt it from the can next time you want to use it, or you can make a few poured candles, if you have any molds. (I made a few homemade molds out of aluminum foil.)
Here they are, hanging to harden up before being cut apart to be used. I think they are very cute and I love their handmade look. We have had a couple of opportunities to use them already and will have several more before the year is over.