I have another fun project to do with the kids today: candle making! This activity is really customizable - you can make it look any way you want! We made this a new program at the library this summer, and the kids all had a blast. We decided to make our candles 3 layers, but you could make as many or few as you'd like.
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Supplies you will need:
Glass container - we used votives, but really anything would work
Wax - we used soy wax, but paraffin is good too
Colorant (you can also use bits of crayon too for color)
Jumbo paper clips
Glass measuring cup or mason jar
Small bowl or cup for mixing
Craft stick for stirring
Stick-on jewels for decorating your candle container (optional)
Let's start by making sure our glass containers are nice and clean, and have no film or residue on them from packaging. Then we will set up our wick inside our candle. To help keep the wick centered in the container, you can use a paper clip and attach it to the wick, making sure both ends of the paper clip hang over the side of the container. If your container is too wide, just skip this then, no big deal. Now, we will heat up our wax. Pour your wax into your glass measuring cup (we used a mason jar) and heat in the microwave. I don't have a set amount for this. We had 8 kids that made 2 candles each, so we used a lot of wax, but if you plan on making a lot less, I'd say start by heating up just a cup of wax and go from there; you can always heat more later. Pop it into the microwave for a couple minutes until it's melted all the way through. I recommend an adult or trusted older child handle the hot wax. Be careful!
Next, we will add the colorant of our choice into a small mixing bowl or cup. You can experiment with the amount of color you put in to make it more or less vibrant. You could also use shavings from broken crayon bits as your color since it is already wax based. If you use some kind of liquid colorant, make sure it is something that will mix with wax - liquid colorant for soap for example won't work. It just beads up and doesn't mix into the melted wax (as we learned from experience, lol). Now we're ready to mix the melted wax and color together. As I mentioned before, we did our candles in 3 layers, so we divided up the total volume of the container into thirds and poured that much wax in each time (i.e. our votive held a little over 60 mL liquid, so we would pour 20 mL of wax in for each layer).
Mix your color and wax together with the craft stick until the color is fully dissolved. Make sure to mix it quickly so that it doesn't start to harden in your mixing bowl. If it does, just pop it back into the microwave 10 seconds at a time until it's liquid enough to mix again. We will add in our scent next. Take a pipette/eyedropper and add in a couple drops of the essential oil of your choice. Feel free to experiment with scents, you could even add in a different scent for each layer. Word of warning though, try to make sure the scents complement each other. You don't want to end up with a stinky candle after all your hard work.
Once everything is mixed, pour it into your votive. Be careful not to pour onto the sides of the glass, because the wax will harden on the side. Also be sure to keep the wick centered when you pour the wax in. Now, the hardest part is coming...we have to wait. You hate waiting, I know, but it'll be worth it. Wait until your layer has completely hardened before adding in the next layer. Depending on how big your container is and how much wax you put in each time, this may take a while. Ours was about 10-15 minutes for each layer. You can put it into the freezer to speed the process up, but every time you move the container, you risk upsetting the evenness of the layer, fyi. The color of the wax will also lighten as it hardens, just to let you know.
When the wax is almost hardened, mix up your next layer, adding the melted wax, color, and scent. You may want to use a new mixing bowl/cup or wash it out, to make sure any leftover color from last time doesn't get into your new batch. Pour in the votive, keeping the wick straight and not getting any on the sides of the glass. Repeat this process for as many layers as you want your candle to have.
After the last layer is hardened, trim the wick and you can decorate your glass with some stick-on craft jewels or keep it minimalist. You could also draw on the glass with Sharpie in cool designs. One thing I like about this project or the soap making one I did last month, is that you can do it just for fun or you can make it a little like a science experiment if you want and add in some learning. Discuss with your child what kind of properties the wax has that allows it to change so easily form solid to liquid and back again. Do you think the scent of the candle will get stronger when it burns? What is it that allows the color to completely dissolve into the wax? And if your child asks a question that you don't know the answer to, look it up together! It's always fun to learn new stuff. Happy candle burning!