Daily Life #15 – Candle Wick Testing

February 9

I’m am so pleased and surprised with today’s tests results.

To recap, my Man and I have decided that it is a good idea to practice some of those skills which we have a theoretical knowledge of, but have never really learned how to do ourselves. Such as making candles.

I started researching how to make candles when you can’t go out to the craft store and buy supplies. The basics are wax and cotton string. But I got to reading that you should treat the string with something in order for it to burn properly.

Most sources I found with a quick internet search said to use a solution of Borax and salt. I did find one or two which said just pre-soaking in the wax would do. And at least one source which stated that a salt solution would work.

Well, I wanted to see which one worked best. So, I pre-treated four lengths of string and another to use un-treated.

I made a solution of borax and salt (1 Tbl Salt, 2 Tbl Borax, 1 cup hot water). I soaked one length of string in it for 1 hour, one length of string in it for 48hours (was only supposed to be 24, but I forgot), and one length of string I soaked for 1 hour once the solution had cooled off.

I also made a salt solution (2 Tbl salt to one cup water) and soaked a length of string in that for 24 hours.

I then took those four strings (once dried), plus the untreated one and dipped them in melted wax 3-4 times and laid them out on foil to dry.

Yesterday, I cut the strings to size, put foil feet on them and put them in little jars, then poured hot wax into the jars.

Overnight, the wax solidified, and voila, I had candles!

Today was the big burn test.

At 10am we lit the five candles.

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10 minutes later it was obvious that we were going to have troubles with the 48hr borax soaked wick.

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I it wouldn’t stand up straight and I had to baby it along, as well as the other two wicks soaked in the borax solution. Every 10-15 minutes, I had to either straighten the wicks or relight them altogether.

At the thirty minutes mark, I trimmed the wicks down a bit on all the candles since they were all smoking quite a lot (except for the 48hr borax soaked one which was barely burning as you can see).

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Finally, after about an hour, the 48hour soaked one seamed to be doing fine after being re-lit several times, but the other two borax ones still had to be taken care of every so often.

By two hours into it I had just about given up on the two candles with wicks soaked for an hour in the borax solution (the middle and far right). The 48hr soaked one was better than those two, but not by much. And the cold soak versus hot soak for an hour didn’t seem to make any difference at all. As for the candle with the untreated wick, I had straightened the wick and re-lit it once. And hadn’t touched the salt treated one even once!

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By 12:30, after 2.5 hours of burning, I gave up on the borax treated ones.

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However, the untreated one was still hanging in there, and the salt treated one was turning out to be a champ. Finally, after 4 hours of burning, even the candle with the non-treated wick gave up the ghost.

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So, it’s the salt treated wick for the win!

I’m fact, it burned for a solid 6 hours without me having to do a thing to it! Eventually the wax liquefied enough that my poor aluminum foot couldn’t hold the wick in place any more and it fell over.

And, no, that is not what was happening to the others because they never burned enough to liquify to that point.

So, what now? Is this a definitive answer? Well, no. I want to try replicating the results. Because as any good scientist knows, if you can’t replicate it, it doesn’t count. So, while all this burning was happening, I made three new candles. One has a 48 hour soaked wick, but it is doubled up so maybe it will be stiffer and not fall over as easily. One has the same salt treated wick. And one had a wick from a different cotton string which I found. It is thicker and again, I’m hoping it will keep the wick from falling over as easily, which seemed to be the biggest problem. I also knotted the bottom of the string before making the aluminum foil foot, so the feet should hold the wicks better.

I will do another burn test tomorrow and let you know the results.

And today we also made taper candles.

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I used some of the same wicks and want to do the same type of burn tests with those, too.

I’m having fun with this and hope you find this information useful.

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121

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This entry was posted in DIY, Homemaking, Portland Interlude 2014-2016, Skills and tagged , on by .

About Maridy

Hi, I'm Maridy. Me and my husband and two girls (age 11 and 4), along with a tiny dog and a huge dog currently live in a 33ft trailer while we build our house on on our homestead property in Northern Nevada (Castle Rock Homestead). My father-in-law also lives with us on the property in his own trailer, and we have chickens and rabbits as our first homestead animals. Join us on our journey to building our high desert homestead from the ground up!

4 thoughts on “Daily Life #15 – Candle Wick Testing

  1. Maridy Post author

    Is it?? I have no idea. Just about every site I went to said to use borax as the pretreatment. Weird. At any rate, I have three new candles going right now. More results coming. 🙂

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  2. Pingback: Daily Life #16 – Volunteer work and More Candle Testing | Castle Rock Homestead

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