How to make Taper candles?There's something magical about a taper candle that slowly takes shape before your eyes, as you dip the thickening wick into the hot wax.
Even if the process in itself is utterly simple, it is very important to constantly monitor and, if needed, adjust the temperature of the wax in which you dip the wick(s).
With some experience and a little trial and error, you'll be able to easily create the oldest candles known by man, all by yourself.
As your confidence grows, your taper candles will take new shapes and aspects: twisted, over-dipped, special effects... taper candles offer a very wide playground!
and of course the usual supplies: double boiler,...
How to make taper candles?
1 As usual, gather all the supplies, tools and ingredients you will need for this project.
Keep in mind that melting such a large amount of paraffin will take quite a long time. Also, the fact that the dipping pot, because of its height, is only partially in contact with the water in the double boiler will slow things down even more...
So better start the melting process well in advance (like two hours) and, above all, don't forget to regularly check the water level in the double boiler!
Before you start, place something at the bottom of the main double boiler pan to avoid direct contact between it and the bottom of the dipping pot. For this purpose,I use two small metal angle brackets bought at a DIY store: they're cheap, efficient and easy to move.
2 When you need to dip things into wax, temperature is even more important than in other projects: it means the difference between success and failure. So be sure to always leave a thermometer in the melted wax.
Because only a portion of the paraffin in the dipping pot will be in contact with the hot water in the double boiler, you will need to stir the paraffin in the dipping pot thoroughly at regular interval. Use a long metallic spoon to mix the warmer paraffin at the bottom with the cooler one at the top.
Ideally, the totality of the wax should remain at a temperature between 160°F and 170°F during the whole dipping process. You will soon realize that this requires some experience and a good knowledge of both your heating equipment and the dipping pot you will be using.
Of course, "ideal" is not of this world so don't worry too much if the temperature of the wax varies slightly. But don't let it drop under 160°F or raise above 170°F.
3 As explained in the previous article, titled "What do you need to make Taper candles?", it's a good idea to build a small wick holder. This will allow you to manipulate the wicks with less risks of both paraffin coated halves to touch each other (this would more than probably result in a "welding" of the two halves, a nasty curse word and the necessity to start all over again).
If you can't find anything to make such a wick holder from scratch, you can of course hold the wicks with your bare hands but then you should watch your moves. You could also use a small piece of strong cardboard with a slit at each hand to hold the wick.
4 For the first dips, it is necessary to help the wicks sink into the wax. Because of their light weight and the material they're made of, they will float if you don't add some weight at their extremities. You can use a small bolt tied at the end of each wick half or, better and easier to remove afterwards, two large fishing line weights. Those have a slit (think PacMan) that will let you pinch them on the wick.
When the wicks have been dipped 7 or 8 times, the accumulated paraffin will have made them heavy and rigid enough. At this stage, you'd better remove the weights or they will become an integral part of the candles. Your growing tapers should now plunge into the paraffin on their own weight.
5 I know I've said it ten times already but it's really of utmost importance: be sure your dipping wax is still at the ideal temperature, between 160°F et 170°F. If it's colder, the surface of the candle will be rough and lumpy; if it's hotter, the wax won't stick to the wicks and your candles won't get any thicker.
6 The dipping motion must be smooth and without hesitation otherwise the surface of your taper candles will show a "stairway" pattern where your dipping motion stopped.
For the first dip, plunge the wicks into the wax and leave them in there for about thirty seconds. This is equivalent to what you do when you prime the wick of a molded candle: it allows any air contained in the fibers of the wick to escape and the wick to saturate itself with paraffin.
When you can't see any more air bubbles escaping the wicks, lift them out of the dipping pot in the same smooth and even motion.
Wax will drip away from the wicks ends during a few seconds so you'd better prepare and cover your work surface with the sheets of an old newspaper.
Let the coated wicks cool off for about one minute. The wax on the wicks should feel cool to the touch otherwise this not-cool-yet wax will melt during the next dip and your tapers will have a hard time getting thicker.
7, 8 & 9 The next dips are identical: dip the wicks in a smooth motion down to the same level as the previous times, wait 3 seconds and get them out of the wax again, in the same smooth and even motion. Let cool for one minute before the next dip.
If your candles refuse to get thicker, let the wax temperature drop by 5°F before you continue.
Somewhere after the seventh or eighth dip, or when the candls have reached a thickness of, like, 7mm, wait 2 minutes instead of one between each dip: a larger quantity of wax needs more time to cool off. If you haven't remove the weights at the end of the wicks yet, it's now or never. If necessary, use scissors to cut the end of the candle where the weight is enclosed.
During the whole dipping process, do not hesitate to add more paraffin in the dipping pot to compensate for what is used to build up the tapers. Stir the wax at (very) regular intervals and, above all, check the temperature.
Repeat until the taper candles are as thick as you want them to be.
10 When you're happy with the size of the taper candles, put them on a plane and clean support, like a countertop, and roll them under your hands to flatten them and, if necessary, straighten them.
If you want to give them a shiny finish, raise the temperature of the wax in the dipping pot to 180°F-190°F and dip the candles two more times in the hot wax.
To make your taper candles virtually dripless, dip them one last time in a high melt point wax, for instance a Hurricane blend.
One last tip if you want your taper candles to have a really shiny finish: dip them in cold water just after the last dip in wax.
You have just repeated the same gestures as many of your ancestors before you!
And you've just created, hopefully without too much frustrations, your first handmade taper candles. Congratulations!