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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Handmade Gift Giving: Soaps & Candles

Hello & Happy Holidays. As some of you know I have been working on new items, traversing the holidays and recovering from my sister and brother in law’s fabulous wedding. If there are any of you out there that want to craft something new and also have some fabulous new gifts by morning this just might be the perfect project and I say this because if I know anything about crafts I know how to make soaps and candles. I can’t believe I have never put a post up on this before (pulls out boxes of materials and TONS of old photos to show some options when it comes to style). 

**Just a new notes on safety before we get started. First, please remember that both glycerin and wax are highly flammable, and you will want to be careful when heating and working with the hot ingredients. You will also want to open a window to ensure proper ventilation. These are not crafts for children unless very well supervised, the materials should not be left on the heat unsupervised and if at any point you feel that the materials are too hot, allow them to cool a bit before continuing to melt. Finally, please wear safety glasses, apron and make sure you do not get residue on the floor, don’t let kids or pets eat it, etc. Ok there, I think I covered that J

Making Soaps:
Materials needed: Glycerin melt and pour soap are really easy to work with and the glycerin base options of white and clear are usually available in the craft stores. Carrier oils to mix in that are going to help moisturize your skin, and those are going to be Jojoba oil, Apricot kernel oil, Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Mango Butter, Vitamin E. (If you have a hard time finding a carrier oil or a blend while shopping then you should have luck at a place like Trader Joes, New Season's type stores if that helps). Additional ingredients as desired such as loofah, pumice, ground apricot seeds, etc.

Project notes: Those oils listed above would be a few examples though I would say in general I would only mix a small amount of Vitamin E so I wouldn’t necessarily go with it as the main oil in your mix. Scents: Some craft stores offer soap scents and colorant from which to choose form. Soap Molds. The craft stores will also have soap molds. A glass bowl and microwave or pan and stove top in which to melt the glycerin. A Knife to cut the glycerin as it usually comes in large blocks. Melt the soap until melted and then remove from the heat and add the scent and colorant (unless the directions say otherwise). Remove from the heat and add the carrier oils and stir. Give it a minute to cool and then pour the soap mixture into the mold and allow the soaps to cool. You can also add a half or whole piece of loofah and it becomes an exfoliating bar. Adding a base of blue pumice and the other half shea butter allows for the best sports soap bar anyone could ask for, and for the kids that don’t necessarily like to get in the tub, adding a little toy like a rubber ducky or even a fun looking rope just might encourage more bath time.  

A few hints: Adding butters such as Shea to your glycerin mix will make it smoother, take longer to melt and will make for more of a white glycerin appearance when using clear glycerin. When going with a shea butter added to glycerin, most people choose for a solid white glycerin as it is already white. The shea will make a clear slightly less transparent, but in most cases will not make the clear glycerin as solid white as the white glycerin base is.

These candles were made and then carved with a knife to offer a bit of texture to the sides. The scent was Tropical Paradise.

Making Candles:
Materials needed: Tin foil, pan you can dedicate to candle making-thrift store anyone?, wick (I like cotton wicks/ not metal wicks), jar or other glass to put the candle in, scents if you want to make the candles scented, old jar, gloves, and your crafting apron at the very least. I also like to recommend safety glasses.

This candle was a color mix, all one scent and made from a medium sized rectangular metal mold.

Project Notes: If your wax, candle color or candle scent comes with directions go with those. For those that have big slabs of paraffin wax you are working with you will find these general directions should help. Yes, in general most sites will tell you that you need a thermometer, metal tabs to hold the wick down and things of that nature and yes, in a lot of cases you might but in general if you heat the wax to a high enough degree so that it is the consistency to that of grape juice and then remove the pan of wax from the heat and turn the heat off. Drop the scent in and allow this to cool a few minutes. In some cases your scent should be dropped in the wax lot before you remove the wax from the heat. I would say to do this if you are working with a solid scent. If you are working with a liquid oil I would like for you to add it either a minute or two before you remove the wax from the heat but keep in mind adding oil to a hot wax mixture makes it even more dangerous on the safety front, plus, you want to also keep in mind that all of those oils and wax should be thoroughly blended, heated properly but not cooked too long because the longer you melt the wax mixture the more you bake off the scent you just added. A lot of times a person is using a solid wax tab that is a scent. In this case you want to have time to properly melt the wax tab completely and then blend it with the mixture a bit. These are a bit stable and stronger than a liquid scent you are adding. 

This candle was made with a blend of paraffin wax and bees wax and a dried flower was added to the front. It was a little uneven until I evened it out with a knife. Burn all non-container candles on a plate or candle holder in which to catch the excess wax when the candle is lit.

If you are adding a bees wax to the mix you will find it is heavier than a regular paraffin wax and will need to be melted longer. If you are going with an all bees wax you will find it might take longer to melt and the consistency of that type of wax will be more like a heavy Orange-pineapple juice blend. If you are in search of color you will find color tabs at the craft stores and crayons also work. For mixing your wax I would recommend something like a big wooden spoon. Something you want to dedicate to the candle making. I do not like to recommend plastic utensils for candle making unless you have allowed the wax to cool to a safe temperature before lading out of the pot and such. Once the wax mixture has been melted, stirred, cooled a bit and is ready to pour take a bit and pour it into the bottom of your jar or container you have selected. Tie a knot in the bottom of the candle wick and drop it into the little bit of wax in the bottom. Allow to cool a bit. As you only added a few tablespoons of wax in the bottom of the jar it will cool rather quickly, much more so than the large pot of wax. Check the wick and make sure it is stuck in the wax bottom, if not then perhaps a wooden skewer will help you there, and then pour the wax into the mold, holding the wax wick up straight so it will dry in the center top of the candle. 

This is a Tea Tree Set and for each of the candles shown without a glass votive I have selected the appropriate wax. You will want to do the same if you do not want your candle added to a glass votive. 

If you are having a difficult time getting the wick to stay in the center you should find a pencil with the wick wrapped around it and a tab of wax added to hold it in place should help. Or even that skewer you used to hold the wick down at the bottom originally should help you there. Allow the candle to cool in a place undisturbed for a few hours so it has a chance to set. In a lot of cases you will find that paraffin wax is thinner of a wax than a bees wax and it will sink when cooled more so than a bees wax. But regardless of the wax you choose, in most cases unless you have a professional candle making business at your disposal, you will find that once the wax cools it has sunk a bit. To clean up the look of the top of the candle you will want to take that pan of dry left over wax and melt it up again. Melt it to the same temperature you melted the original wax , again remove from the heat, if a little more scent is needed add it a bit, Mix and allow to cool a little bit. Laddle it out on top and allow to cool. Once the candles are cool you can cut off the excess wick and you are all set to wrap and gift!

A Few hints: If you want more than one scent for your candles you can use the same wax pan and containers but you will want to clean them out really well with a soap and water mix to free them of the oils before adding a different scent or your pumpkin spice meets spring rain candles do not smell as nice as you had envisioned. 
And then you have the humerous prayer candle and these are great because you can just add an image you like to the front and treat it to a varnish with a brush.

Happy Holidays and may the craft be with you…

I will return shortly on a fabulous gift wrapping post. If you had one more stop to make before you head home for some hot chocolate and egg nog, you know I'm going to suggest the craft store... Well, and the grocery store for cookie makings and probably the liquor store for something to bring out the flavor in that egg nog ;) 


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