Thursday, November 11, 2010

Recycling wax and Guinness cans

We burn candles at our house every day during the winter and most days during the summer. Often they're wee tea light or votive candles that melt away and become goo in the air (causing epic diseases, one assumes).

Occasionally, though we manage to burn through the usefulness of a pillar or multi-wick candle. These always result in a pile of smelly wax that is then collected in bins along with emptied, rinsed and dried Guinness cans.

Obviously when I say "emptied" I mean poured into glasses and drank with the gusto only us immortals can muster.

Keep in mind as we go along here that you could probably use soda pop cans or even other beer cans. We don't drink any of those things, though, so we don't have those cans.

Plus, of course, Guinness cans are slightly taller and slimmer than those other cans. You see, candle making is a lot like baking: There are rules. Your wick to wax to scent to size ratios have to stay within set parameters, otherwise you'll have a candle that constantly puts itself out or melts too quickly and ruins the carpet. Again.

What we discovered is this: Following the instructions I'm about to give will lead you to some sort of crazy Einsteinian parameters that make perfect candles. Or Guinnessian. Whichever, it always works.

Using tin snips or kitchen shears, very carefully trim the top off of the Guinness can (past the "neck").

Puncture the bottom of the can, exactly centered (or mostly centered), with a 16-penny nail. Next, pull enough large-sized Yardley wicking through the hole and to the top so that you have plenty to tie off onto a brace.

Tie a tight knot in the wicking near the bottom of the can, then tug the wicking so that the knot "fills" the hole in the bottom of the can. Trim excess wicking from the bottom, if it is keeping the can from sitting flat.

Returning to the top-side, find something to use as a brace that will hold the wicking taut while you pour wax (we like bamboo skewers, but you can use whatever you prefer as long as you know it'll now be for candle-making only).

Place your Guinness molds on a disposable or only-to-be-used-for candles baking sheet.

Finally, in a pan that you are Never Going To Use For Anything Else, melt leftover wax until it's melted (I know, I read it, melt until melted ... I'm tired, OK?).

Pour this melted wax into the Guinness molds. As the filled mold sets it will develop a crater caused by cooling and bubbles from the wick area.

This means that the rest of the "recipe" is up to you. Either wait for the wax to set completely, strip off the mold and trim the candle so it's pretty. Or, keep melting and filling until that sucker is completely and totally full, then do the stripping and trimming.

Tada! Guinness candles!

Now, for those of you who've never dabbled in candle making:

1. When the wax is fully melted it's hot. HOT! Send you to the emergency room if you spill it on a body part hot. Be careful.

2. Wax is going to get on things. It's going to drip onto the floor. It's going to drip onto the stove top. Do not make candles if you're going to freak out in the months to come when you discover *another* splotch of dripped wax. You might manage to find and clean up every drip as it happens. You might not. Be the Buddha.

3. Your leftover wax is probably full of scented oils. Remelting this wax in large quantities, as for this project, causes the scent to stink up your house like a brothel. Or an incense factory. A very sexy, stinky, disease-causing factory that should probably have open windows. And fans.


  1. Ok, I am not sure what I like more here. The candle crafting process or the entire story! I am thinking the story ending with the very last paragraph, which gave my first morning laugh!

    Have a great Friday!

  2. See it is your fault with always telling such fun stories! The candles look awesome!

  3. Brilliant tutorial and I fell about with laughter at the last paragraph.
    We always use scented candles and now I can say when family visits and admires the scents.......yep it smells like a brothel, can't wait to see their They will put me away for sure......... Have a great weekend,
    Annette xx