Thursday, 21 January 2016

Candling success


A few years ago we started to put 8 hour tealights (available from catering wholesalers) under the metal drinkers at the allotment, to stop the water freezing overnight.  When it was freezing and snowy during the day, we'd put another candle under the drinker during the day, to prevent the water freezing.  (It had to be very cold for us to do this, as we didn't want to end up with hot water!),

It took a but of trial and error to get the set up right; sooting of candles, condensation, draughts, all had their impact on the system.  Eventually we had the drinkers raised on bricks, with bricks all round to keep out the draughts (and the hens). The tealights were put in ramekins, and the ramekin were put inside cut-down Illy coffee tins.  The coffee tins had drainage holes in the bottom, so the condensation would drain off (rather than rising and swallowing the candle),  and ventilation at the top for good air flow.

Of course 8 hours isn't really long enough in this weather, but it still helps.  Even if the water started to freeze, it was at least possible to either melt it on the camping stove, or to empty it out and refill.  Unprotected water freezes into a solid block, and the lip round the Eltex drinker makes it impossible to remove.

We've recently had the first bit of weather cold enough to necessitate candling.   DH bought some of the tealights back with the idea of melting them and making bigger - longer lasting - candles.  We didn't know what the criteria was for getting a candle to burn longer (more wax? taller? wider? different wax?  wick? )  so DH just had a go with what we had.

While he busied himself melting wax in the old asparagus steamer (which was actually on its way to the tip, so another recycling result there) , I looked on line at wicks, as I guessed we would need some.  Then I saw a bulk pack of wax and that made me think that, of course, we should buy wax to melt. 

A bit of googling, seeing posts about making emergency 50 hour candles using Kilner Jars, and I realised that we have a cupboard full of jam jars that we could use! 

A bit more googling and I ended up at Randall's Candles.  I looked at the waxes, saw that soya wax was longer lasting, and put the best wax in my basket. I found the wicks, I saw about the diameters, I put a selection in my basket.  I saw something called wax improver, that went in as well.   At checkout,   I needed urgent delivery. This sas available but needed to be phoned for.

So I phoned up and spoke to the most helpful chap imaginable.  I explained that I needed a rush order, and I shared that I was making candles for the first time, and what the purpose was.   The amount of help I got in that conversation was incredible.  I had been correct in opting for soya wax (longer burning) but  I didn't need the superior wax I'd put in my basket, as that was really aimed at improving the look of the candles.    He explained about wicks, and the impact of too thin or too thick a wick.  I measured the jars I'd been thinking of using, and he sorted out the right wick sizes for me.  I asked if he would write on the receipt which set of wick was for which sized jar. 

I didn't need the wax improver - that would make the wax burn faster, and was really used to improve the burn when colours and scents had been added. He also explained how long to test the candles for.

I ended up spending less than I had originally thought, and got a bit more stuff.  

It arrived the following morning,  and DH set about making a candle straightaway.  We used one of the M&S olive jars, these were not too tall and had a wide mouth.   He took it to the allotment at 4pm, and came back to report that the previous attempt (made out of the tealights) had lasted for over 12 hours.  That was pretty amazing, and we were really keen to find out how a proper version would perform.

We've just had a call from the Other Chap who reported that proper candle, made with soya wax and a proper wick,  was still burning - and it was only about 2/3rds gone.  It had been going for nearly 20 hours!

What a result!! 

There's no need for candles today,  but DH is going to make a few so we have them to hand.   He's also going to make some "emergency use" candles, candles in jars will be safer to use than tealights.

I stopped eating M&S olives some time ago, started eating Waitrose ones.   I'll have to go back to M&S ones (assuming they are still in the same jars) for a while. It's going to be tough, but a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do.

And I would definitely recommend Randall's Candles for such FAB service.

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