The candles we're going to talk about, commonly called Hurricane candles, are among the most interesting and potentially the most beautiful as well.
Moreover, they are pretty much everlasting because they are not candles that you light and burn, they are decorated wax shells with a small, actual candle (like a tealight or a votive in a votive holder) burning inside, leaving the shell intact. Hurricane candles can be reused hundreds of times!
Hurricane candles are called this way because the small candle burning inside the shell is very well protected against wind and drafts, making it an ideal decoration piece for the garden or the patio.
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 are embedded into the shell and kept away from the flame of the inner candle, you can use practically anything you like - silk or dried flowers, paper, ...
Hurricane shells are utterly decorative and can also be used to contain and display potpourri or a bouquet 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...
As I mentioned, 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 mold you will use to create your shells must have a minimum diameter of 15 cm (6 inches). This 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 to catch fire). This is a golden rule, even though the wax formula used to create Hurricane shells has an higher than usual melt point.
Instead of embedding things into the shell, you can choose to create a single-color shell and then paint 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 an adult creates the shell then passes it over to the children for them to paint and decorate.
If you're planning on embedding things into the shell, know that you will not only need a mold but also an insert (see the article titled what you need for more information). An insert (also called a sleeve) is nothing more than a hollow metal cylinder, with a diameter smaller than the mold you will be using, that you place inside the mold to keep the embeds in place while the paraffin sets.
Hurricane shells come in many shapes, the most common being a cylinder or a 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 mold (only if you're going to work with embeds of course).
You can incorporate a vast range of items into the sides of a Hurricane shell; the only limit here is your imagination and, of course, the size of these items.
The most common "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 crosses your mind. A few examples, just to get you started: artificial flies (the ones used by fly fishers), 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 mold and has at least some decorative properties.
Mixing different ingredients will allow you to create genuine thematic Hurricane shells.
if you're thinking of using artificial flowers, be aware that the dye they contain has a tendency to bleed and stain 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.
Creating a Hurricane shell requires a little know-how and experience. Using them is subject to a few rules as well if you want to avoid any 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 shadow play spectacle. But not any candle can be used as a core candle: a safe choice is either a votive candle or 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 will do the trick. You can buy inexpensive coasters in most Dollar stores.
Another important thing is that you should always perfectly center the core candle inside the shell. If you don't, there's a possibility that the flame of the core candle melts away one side of the shell, exposing embeds or worse, setting 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 who will use the shell might not be aware of the dangers linked to the use (or misuse) of such a beautiful candle.
So it is YOU who must plan ahead. For a start, keep Hurricane shells that are not perfect on the inside (one or more embeds not covered in paraffin) for your own usage. 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 should not be burnt more than three hours at a time; be certain they do know that a candle should never be left burning unattended and must be kept away from flammable items like curtains.
The more you educate people, the less you'll hear about another fire caused by a candle, surely, but caused above all by the lack of common sense of the people using it.