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Votive candles - What you need

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What you need

Votive candles can be made two ways: the easy one and the masochistic one.

Let me explain: the only real difficulty in making this type of candle is getting the wick into place and keeping it there.

A votive mold and its wick pins

You can either push the wick and its tab down the mold while the wax is still soft and make sure that

  • the wick is - and remains - perfectly centered,
  • the wick tab remains firmly at the bottom of the votive mold,
  • the wick remains tight while the candle cools off and the wax hardens.

or you can make your life a whole lot easier and use wick pins. More about this later in this article.

Votive molds

As we have seen in the introduction, votive candles come in several different shapes.

In this article, I will assume you went for the the most traditional shape, slightly tapered, larger at the top than at the bottom. Votive candles are the only molded candles where the bottom does not become the top (and vice versa) when you unmold them (see the right part of the illustration above).

Votive molds are usually made of metal (stainless steel or aluminium). I do not recommend using rubber molds to make votives: this type of candle should be poured at a rather high temperature (191°F) and rubber, after a while, becomes "tired" and less flexible. Furthermore, cleaning metal molds is so much easier (just use your heatgun) !

You will find votive molds made of 3 to 6 cups welded in place on a metal strip. There again, I would avoid buying such a piece of equipment: if for some reason, you need to empty one of the cups, you will realize why it was not such a good idea ! But if you like the fact that such a "votive strip" is easier to manipulate, I suggest you buy some stainless steel votive cups and also purchase a magnetic knife holder (Ikea has a very handy model that I use regularly). Your votive cups will be firmly kept in place but, if it becomes necessary, you will still be able to remove one individual cup.

To make a long story short: get yourself a series of individual stainless steel cups (12 of them is a good start; it may sound like a lot but you will probably make votives in batches of 6 and with 12 votive cups, you will not have to wait for one batch to be entirely cool to start working on the next one).

Votive wicks

Whether you use the wick pin method (see below) or not, the wick remains the same.

In this case, you will pick a cotton-cored, wax coated wick. If it is possible to make votive wicks yourself, it is a lot easier (and not that more expensive) to buy them ready-made, pre-waxed, cut to length and with a round 15 mm wick tab already attached. More and more specialized wicks are now available for votive candles; the HTP, Stabilo, ECO, LX and RRD series all have at least one size that will suit votives.

If you decide to make your own votive wicks, choose a cotton wick of the type 36-24-24. If you have any kind of choice, use "self-centering" wick tabs (their diameter is the same as that of the votive cup; consequence of that is that the wick is automatically centered).
As usual, you will need to prime the wicks before you can use them in your votive candles (only if you make your own wicks, of course).

Votive wick pins

Wick pins are your best friends, you love wick pins ! (see the first picture in this article)

If you order only one thing from overseas, let it be a dozen of wick pins... I don't want to even dream of making another batch of 12 votives without wick pins !

Basic instructions : place the wick pin inside the votive cup (it's self-centering), pour the wax, allow to cool and subsequently fill the sink hole if necessary (see instructions) then unmold the candle, remove the wick pin, thread a tabbed wick through the hole left behind by the wick pin, gently heat the tab with a lighter then push it firmly against the bottom of the candle and you're done ! One beautiful votive candle with a perfectly straight and centered wick !

Didn't I just tell you that wick pins are your best friends?

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