Types of candles - Hurricane candles (Hurricane shells)
The candles (well, actually not) we're going to talk about now, commonly called Hurricane candles, are among the most interesting and potentially the most beautiful as well.
Moreover, they're practically everlasting because they're not actual candles, they're decorated wax shells containing a small, real candle (like a tealight or a votive in a votive holder) that burns inside, thus leaving the shell intact. Hurricane candles can be reused hundreds of times!
Hurricane candles are called this way because the small candle inside the shell is very well protected against wind and drafts, making it the ideal decoration for the garden or the terrace.
What makes Hurricane candles really interesting is that they allow you to use decorative items that you normally can't use in candles because of their flammable nature. Because these items will be embedded into the shell and kept away from the flame of the inner candle, you can use practically anything you like - silk flowers, paper, ...
Hurricane shells are utterly decorative and can also be used to contain and display potpourri or a bush of dried or silk flowers. And because paraffin wax is impermeable to water, you could also use your Hurricane shells, filled with water, as a container for floating candles or, why not, for fresh flowers...
Shapes and models
As I said, the great variety of things you can embed in Hurricane shells make them an endless source of projects, all different!
One thing must be kept in mind though: the mould you will use to create your shells must have a minimum diameter of 15 cm (6 inches). This measurement is necessary because the flame of the inner candle must be kept at a safe distance of the shell walls (unless you want these walls to melt or the embeds catch fire). This is a golden rule, even though the wax formula used to create Hurricane shells has an higher than usual melt point (MP).
Instead of embedding things into the shell, you can choose to create one of a single color and then paint decorations on its surface (or stencil or glue or whatever you like to do). This can be an excellent project for parents and kids alike, where a parent create the shell then pass it over to children to paint and decorate.
Now if you're planning to embed things into the shell, know that you will need not only a mould but also an insert (see the article titled Hurricane candles - what you need for more information). An insert (also called a sleeve) is nothing more than a metallic, hollow cylinder, with a smaller diameter than the mould you will be using, you place into the mould to keep the embeds in place while the paraffin sets.
Hurricane shells come in many shapes, the most classical being cylinder and square but then again, let your imagination rule. Look around in the kitchen, the attic or the cellar for items that could make a good Hurricane mold. The only issue with homemade molds is to find (or make) an insert that fits the size and shape of the mould (only if you're going to work with embeds of course).
Decorative embeds you can use
You can incorporate a vast range of items into the sides of a Hurricane shell; the only limit is your imagination and, of course, the size of these items.
The most classical "ingredients" are artificial or dried flowers but it would be a shame to limit yourself to that! Because you don't have to worry whether the decorative embeds are flammable or not (like you would in the case of Gel candles), you can actually try anything that goes through your mind. A few examples, just to get you started: artificial flies (the ones used by flyfishers), cinnamon or vanilla sticks, barbwire painted in black (like the Amnesty International candles), elements from a miniature train ride, confetti and miscellaneous scrapbooking material, artificial butterflies,... to make a long story short: anything that will fit between the insert and the mould and has minimum ecorative properties.
Mixing different ingredients will allow you to make genuine thematic Hurricane shells.
Caution if you're thinking of using artificial flowers, be aware that the dye they contain have a tendency to escape and colour the paraffin.
You should always let artificial flowers soak in hot water during an hour then dry them thoroughly before you use them in a Hurricane shell.
How to use Hurricane shells
Creating a Hurricane shell implies a little know-how and experience. Using them is subject to a few rules as well if you want to avoid problems.
As we've seen earlier, it is a small candle (called core candle) placed inside the shell that burns, shedding its light onto the shell walls to create a fantastic Chinese shades spectacle. But not any candle can be used as a core candle: two safe choices are a votive candle and a tealight candle, because of their small size and the relatively low heat production.
The core candle must always be placed on a small plate inside the shell. This is to avoid that the heat would actually drill a hole in the bottom of the shell. A simple cork or glass coaster (see picture) will do the trick. You can buy inexpensive coasters in most Dollar stores.
Another important thing is that you always must center the core candle perfectly inside the shell. If you don't there's a possibility that the flame of the core candle might melt away one side of the shell, expose embeds or worse, set them on fire!
Even if it is possible to use potentially flammable materials as embeds in a Hurricane shell, keep in mind that the person that will use the shell might not be aware of the dangers linked to the use (or misuse) of such a beautiful candle.
So it's YOU who must think of everything. To start with, keep for your own usage Hurricane shells that are not perfect on the inside (one or more embeds not covered in paraffin). Also, educate the future owners of your candles! Make sure they understand why it's important to center the core candle; explain why a candle shouldn't be burnt more than three hours at a time; be certain they do know that a candle should never been left burning unattended and must be kept away from flammable items like curtains and hangings.
The more you'll educate people, the less you'll read about another fire caused by a candle indeed, but above all caused by the lack of common sense of people using it.
A candle-that-never-dies: the Hurricane shell
what you need
how to make them?