Candles have lighted family homes for centuries, and today they still bring warm spirit to hearth and table. They're also fun to make for adults and kids alike.
Here's a project that you can do with your kids using simple materials. For second graders studying time, this is a great opportunity to talk about the heritage of candlemaking, and how it was a part of family life for generations before us. It's also a great chance to reinforce some "green" lessons as you recycle and reuse old candle stubs and crayons to make wax for the candles. As an extra surprise, these homemade candles expose hidden treasure as they melt.
Assorted metal charms (or use coins, seashells, and other non-flammable trinkets)
Wax: either candle stubs in assorted colors, broken into pieces with a hammer and the wicks removed, or candle wax purchased from a craft store
Wick made by dipping a length of kitchen twine in melted wax, or one purchased from a craft store
Metal mold or coffee can, wider at the top than the base to make removal easier
Candle dye or crayon stubs in assorted colors (optional)
Clear gift wrap
Metal iced-tea spoon or chopsticks
Ribbon for packaging
What You Do:
Lightly oil the inside of your mold and set aside. Tie the top of your wick to the middle of a pencil and balance the pencil over the top of the mold, making sure the bottom of the string reaches the bottom of the mold.
Melt wax in double boiler above simmering water. If you’d like to make your candle with layers of different colors, melt one small batch at a time, adding either dye or crayon stubs until the desired color is achieved. When wax is thoroughly melted, pour a few inches into the mold. Add a few charms.
Let cool until the first layer is slightly hardened, then add another layer of melted wax and more charms. (Don’t rush the process; all the charms will sink to the bottom if the lower levels aren’t firm.) Repeat until mold is full, then let dry for several days before removing from mold. (Wax will shrink as it dries and slide out easily.)
To give as a gift, wrap candle in clear wrapping paper and tie a long iced-tea spoon or set of chopsticks to the package with a pretty ribbon. (Remember that wooden chopsticks are flammable and should only be used to push charms out of the wax, not to touch the flame.) As the candle burns, the charms will appear and can be picked out with the utensils (the wax will be hot). Remember: candles are a lot of fun, but only with adult supervision!