February 2nd has had special significance since ancient times: celebrated as Imbolc by the Celts, and more recently as Candlemas by Christians, it’s also commonly known as Groundhog Day. Although the days are growing longer, winter’s darkness is certainly still present, and candles can help dispel the gloom until the sun returns again. Read on for DIY instructions for how to make some of your own recycled candles to brighten up your home for this February festival.
“If Candlemas day be sunny and bright, winter will yet have another flight; if Candlemas day brings showers and rain, winter is gone and shan’t come again.” This is just one of the poems and stories associated with February 2nd festivities, and it certainly relates to the weather auguring of Groundhog Day. There’s also a Polish story about how Mother Mary lights candles on February 2nd and wanders around villages, protecting the people within from hungry wolves prowling in the snow outside. Whether you’re celebrating this as a spiritual festival or just really love flickering firelight, making candles from recycled odds and ends is a fun, easy project that can be completed in an afternoon.
What You’ll Need:
- Wax remnants, e.g. from the butt-ends of several used candles
- Clean, empty aluminum can or glass jar
- Small saucepan
- Wicks (purchased or pre-made—you can make your own by soaking cotton twine in melted wax)
- Crazy glue
- Metal washers to weigh down the wicks
- Clean, empty jars, teacups, or shallow dishes to pour the wax into
- Hair combs, chopsticks, straws, hair clips, or pencils (to stabilize the wicks)
Gather together all the wax odds and ends that you’ve collected. These could be the butt ends of candles that you’ve already burned, little discs of wax from the bottoms of glass candles, etc. You can also use full chunks of wax if you already have some on hand, or if you can buy them without much hassle: use whatever type of wax makes you happy. If you have a few different types of candle odds and ends that you’d like to combine, that’s totally okay—paraffin, beeswax, and soy wax can all be blended together without sweating oil or being weird.
Place all of these into your empty can or jar, and then place that into a saucepan that’s filled with about two inches of water to create a makeshift double boiler. Warm this on low heat until the wax has liquefied, and use a fork or chopsticks to pull out any stray wicks or bits of detritus.
Take a length of wick, and glue one end of it to one of your washers. Then, add a daub of glue to the bottom of that and secure it to the inside bottom of the container you’ve chosen for your candle. Place your chopstick, pencil, or comb across the top of the container, and secure the long end of the wick onto it. If you’re using a comb, you can just draw the wick between the teeth; if it’s a pencil or straw, tie the wick to it, or use a paper clip to keep it in place. Should you be creating more than one candle, repeat this process as needed.
Pour the liquid wax carefully into your container(s), then leave them alone to set. They’ll harden fully in a few hours, at which point you can light them up to brighten your space!
Images via Shutterstock and Coconinoco via Flickr Creative Commons