Dipping for Kids 101
For a children's project, it's best to dip a single candle at a time, which avoids the problem of the pair making contact. This also gives the child a long length of wick to hold, thereby avoiding danger of burns or the child's accidentally getting a hand or fingers into the hot wax.
Keep safety at the top of your priorities. Be sure children are properly protected — an old T-shirt over regular clothes is a good apron. And of course, adult supervision is a must.
What you will need for this is plain paraffin, an empty can for melting the wax and dipping the wicks, a saucepan to use as the bottom half of the double-boiler setup, and wick lengths of 24″, one for each candle to be made.
Fill the saucepan with about 2″ of water and heat it over low heat on the stove. Add the paraffin block (or cut it into pieces for faster melting) and let it slowly melt while keeping a close watch. Give each child a prepared wick with the weight already attached to the bottom end. Also provide each child with a small piece of cardboard to hold under the just-dipped candle, to prevent drips on the floor.
When the wax is melted, allow the child (or each child involved in the project) to dip a wick slowly down into the melted wax and then slowly pull it out again. Have the children stand in a line and approach the dipping can of melted wax, under supervision. Have some hooks or a rod available on which to tie the tapers to dry. Allow the children to repeat the dipping process eight or ten times until enough wax has accumulated on the wick to make a nice size candle. The candles will be thinner and smaller than usual, but that's not important. It's the experience and the fun of it that count!
When each child has made his or her candle, hang all the candles on the drying rack (with nametags for identification later). When the candles are dry, trim off the extra length of wick used for tying the candles onto the rack, to about ½″. An adult should be in charge of trimming off the candle bottoms. If this is a school project, send the candle home with the child. If this is a home project, allow the child to light the candle — be sure to give appropriate warnings about candle-burning safety.
Be aware that these simple, paraffin-only candles will not burn as long or as well as those made with additives. But pure paraffin is lovely to watch burn as it gives a translucent glow — and what could be lovelier than helping kids to get creative?Teacher's Tip
Candlemaking at school by a group of children can become a festive activity during the holiday season. A field trip to a candlemaking facility, the telling of a story about how the candle represents the light of life, the singing of a holiday song — all could be adjuncts to the candlemaking project.
If you make special candles for holidays such as Christmas, it's especially important to keep careful notes. You may know your everyday procedures by heart, but after a year has passed, you are likely to have forgotten exactly how you made those lovely beeswax candles that everyone so admired!