Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Making Beeswax Candles and Interesting Things In The Garden In The Rain

I picked up several cakes of beeswax from a local bee keeper (I use them to make lip salve and other skin-related balms), and yesterday decided I would try my hand at making beeswax candles, they being prohibitively expensive in the shops and also better for you than the wax varieties (no synthetics released into your oxygen when they burn).

Here is a step-by-step guide in case you want to have a go at making some yourself.

Get some Beeswax from a local bee keeper (or online, but check for purity). Mine has been washed in rainwater so contains blobs of pollen etc but has had no synthetic cleaning agents added. The colour of the wax varies according to what the bees have been feeding on and the time of year the wax is harvested.

Beeswax is flammable so to melt it safely you have to put it in a bain-marie (a pot resting in a saucepan of boiling water). This quantity took about 1.5 hours to melt fully and you need to remember to keep topping up the water to prevent it from boiling dry. Don't use too much water- you don't want it spitting into the melting wax.

When the wax has melted, allow it to cool for a few minutes before pouring it into your prepared molds.

I used the base of some plastic bottles cut to size, then rested some small paint brushes over the sides with the wick (which you can buy online) tied to the middle from where it hung down into the base. You can get candle molds on line if you want to make prettier ones than mine with their wobbly bottoms (not that there is anything wrong with having a wobbly bottom).

When the wax has set (not long- half an hour tops), remove the paintbrushes and snip the wick to size.

To be absolutely certain the wax had set I left the candles in the molds for a couple of hours before cutting the plastic off.

Hey Presto! They actually burn (and smell delicious too)

I put this pic in because I loved the swirling shapes the smoke made when the candle was blown out.

While the candles were setting I went out into the garden (between breaks in the rain) to see what I could find. This bee (below) caught my eye because of the droplets of water on his wing. He was taking ages over feeding.

And this bee (below) was employing a Very Sensible Way Of Keeping Dry and out of the rain by hanging upside down beneath a sunflower leaf. Tops marks for ingenuity.

Can you see him in the pic below?

These two caterpillars (Large White and Small White) also caught my eye because of the raindrop jewels they were wearing. Can you see the Small White, doing a fantastic job of blending in with all that is left of M's kale?!

This Poor Caterpillar (who is he/ she? Anyone know? I can't find him in my books) had sadly drowned in a water bucket. In the second pic below you can see some interesting or gross (depending on your perspective) insecty type things crawling about on him which look like lice (look for the small grey creature on the yellow line).

On to nicer things...

Bittersweet berries pretending to be tomatoes in the rain

M's Black Pearl Chillies

Look! The birds/ mice/ squirrels haven't had all the blueberries (yet)

Black Eyed Susans, which my Grandpa used to grow, offering a splash of early Autumn colour. Love them.

Echinacea Flower, who has Seen Better Days...

Rosebud in the rain

Rose in the rain

Wild Sweet Peas in the rain

Tomatoes in the rain

A Toadstool and his Child

Anemone bud

Sunflower wearing its raindrops prettily

Another Soggy Sunflower

Does anyone know who this pupa belongs to? 
It's sitting half-way up the windows in a place cleverly chosen to protect the moth or butterfly inside from the weather, as evidenced by the fact it is not remotely Soggy, despite the rain, unlike...

Mr Pige, perched on the aerial on next door's roof...

Mavis who was A Bit Fed Up With The Weather  
(this is her "I Am Feeling Especially Gloomy" look)

And finally, Teddy, who, as usual, was my Faithful Friend And Companion on our soggy peramble around the garden, and has ended up looking like he's been through the washing machine

Hope you enjoyed all of those. I'm off to get the wool out of it's basket and sort through it (yes I know I said I'd do that the other day, and I did get as far as bringing it downstairs from the brewery cupboard and plonking it on the ironing board (which is out more or less permanently in the vague hope that it might encourage me to use it. In reality it doesn't, but it does makes for a convenient table for wool and other things) before some minor crisis erupted that demanded my attention and I forgot all about the wool until after we'd watched Peaky Blinders, and by then it was too late as I'd already fallen asleep on the sofa.

I'm also off to recover from the hilarity induced by my sister, who was laughing at something I'd said while she, ma and I were having lunch today at The Three Cups pub in Stockbridge, snorting the bite of  pudding I'd just given her out through her nose and then frantically burying her face in her napkin in an attempt to discreetly disguise the fact, while at the same time trying not to choke. I don't expect we'll be allowed back.....

Wishing you all a Mighty Fine Evening, wherever you are and whatever you may be doing.

CT :-)


  1. Hi CT Well that was a productive day. Your candles turned out well. that must have been a big down pour because all the flowers are laden with rain drops. I love to see that so some great shots there. Favorite shot, the drowned dog!

    1. I love homemade candles and they really were very easy to make. It was torrential rain on/ off yesterday afternoon, hence the condition of Ted! :-)

  2. I haven't made a candle since I was in school but after reading this post I feel I should give it another go :-) A good read as always CT :-)

    1. Dead easy to do and very satisfying to think you made it, while sitting down peacefully in the evening with it flickering quietly by the fire place... :-)

  3. Excellent. Now I can refill all the empty votives I've got hanging around. Three of which I even dusted today, obviously telepathically anticipating your post.
    Mavis is looking especially gloomy, it has to be said.

    1. Is there a reason why you have so many? And perhaps (more importantly) why they are empty? :-)

      Mave is a victim to her nerves, poor soul.

  4. Your beeswax candles look wonderful and you make it look so easy! Your rain drenched pictures from the garden are beautiful as is Teddy! Daisy is in disgrace she was delighted when a visiting fox left their poo on the lawn for her to roll in!
    Sarah x

    1. OH NO! They are AWFUL for doing that aren't they? Dougal (Ted's cousin) is regularly in trouble (and washed) for finding fox's poo on their lawn too. x

  5. Lovely images of the rain on plants. Still dry here! Interesting caterpillar pics-sorry don't know what it is, but I also found a very hairy caterpillar drowned in a water bucket-sadly. I have put a big short stick in to help them out. Poor M's kale-but a great disguise!

    1. Good idea with the twig, I must do that too. Wonder why they like water buckets so much?

      Thanks for the link you sent- very interesting and apt too :-)

  6. Poor Mavis! I came home from work yesterday to find Daisy had escaped the hen garden (which has rainy weather shelter) into the human garden (which has no rainy weather shelter). She was standing wingpit deep in sodden grass, looking very sodden and with a look on her face that said, 'Why am I so sodden?' So I picked her up, returned her to shelter and gave her a handful of mealworms as consolation prize for being an idiot chicken.

    I was sodden, too, having neglected to take a brolly or coat with me in the morning, and walking 40 minutes home in the rain. I didn't have mealworms as I am a vegetarian. I had nuts!

    How excited are you about university??

    1. Mavis is the Queen Of Vocal Expressions, as you can tell from the pic.

      Poor Daisy, and Silly Daisy, and Silly You for going out with no coat. I'll bet all your hundreds of children were thinking the same (that makes it sound like you are a Mega Mother, instead of a Mega Teacher).

      Am excited about Uni, and a little bit trepidatious because T is spending the days that I am there in Kennels at the college and they do look quite a lot like Borstal, and I suspect he will view the whole business as punishment for some heinous crime he must have committed but can't remember. Honestly, it's worse than when L started school. I shan't be able to concentrate until I know he is alright, but at least I can see him and take him out for a walk at lunch (before returning him to Borstal for the remainder of the afternoon).

  7. I too have some raindrop photos to add to my next post... one of which is also of a large white caterpillar! The raindrops magnify their pattern beautifully! You captured some lovely images :) I can't help you with your caterpillar either... sorry! Making candles is such a lovely autumnal activity! Yours look super! I might have to try it!

    1. Yes it's been good weather for raindrop photos this week. Looking forward to seeing yours.

      Candle making, jelly making and crochet- all signs of Autumn in our household :-)

  8. No idea about the caterpillar either although perhaps it's been washed out in the drowning process! I haven't made candles since school either. Very inspiring....

  9. Love the photos of flowers in the rain - beautiful. We've got Black-eyed Susan type flowers too - really do love them.

    Thanks for the ideas re: making the beeswax candles. I have a few bought ones here and as you say they are rather expensive!

    Not started the blanket yet but did knit a few rows of the scarf the other night :)


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them. CT.