Method for Overdipping Candles

Don't confuse overdipping with dipping. You can overdip tapers, but you can also overdip almost any kind of candle you make. Pillars especially lend themselves to overdipping and special effects from overdipping.

Here's what you'll need for overdipping:

  • A wax or wax mixture with a high melting point (check the temperature with your thermometer)

  • Stearic acid — 5 to 30 percent relative to the wax, depending on the effect you want to achieve (remember that stearic acid makes paraffin opaque)

  • A container of cool water deep enough to submerge the candle, to add shine to the finished candle and to cool it

  • Your double-boiler setup

  • Pliers (needle-nose pliers work well)

  • Colorant or dye, if you are going to overdip in color (usually over a white candle, but not always: you could overdip a lighter colored candle in a darker color)

Overdip with Clear Wax

Melt the wax about 20° above its melting point. For proper adhesion of the overdip layer, the candle should be still warm, not cold. If you have a cold candle (for example, if you purchased white candles and are going to overdip them in color or beeswax) you must warm the candles a bit before dipping. Small candles and tapers can be held between the hands; larger ones, like pillars, can be put in a warm spot — but not too warm and not for too long, or they will begin to melt!

Holding the candle by its wick, using the pliers (recommended for bought candles or those with already trimmed wicks), or your fingers if the wick is sufficiently long (as it would be with handmade dipped pairs), completely submerge the candle in the clear wax. Pull it (or them, if a pair) out steadily. The overdipping must be done quickly because the wax is hotter than usual and you want to avoid beginning to melt your candle.

The overdipped candle will be quite warm, a bit soft, and slightly pliable for a few minutes. Continue to hold it aloft by its wick until it begins to set. Although some candlemakers consider a single dip sufficient for an overdip, others recommend dipping two or three times, allowing about thirty seconds between dips. This is your choice. Again, experimentation is the answer. And, yes, keep notes!

After the final dip (if you use more than one) plunge the whole candle into a bucket of cool water for a glossy sheen on its surface. Then polish lightly.

Overdip with Colored Wax

If you want to overdip a white candle with color, or a colored candle with another color (or several colors) to achieve different and exciting effects, you will need a container for each color you plan to use. For example, if you wanted to dip a candle half in green and half in red for Christmas use, you would need two containers, plus the candle(s).

Overdipping in colored wax requires a large amount of wax, because you have to either submerge the candle entirely or do it by halves or sections. However, any leftover wax can always be reused another day and another dip.

If your candles are not picking up sufficient color in two or three dips, your wax is too hot. If, on the other hand, the coating of colored wax is blemished, or scaly, the wax is too cool. Solution: Always use your thermometer and keep a close watch on it. And — always take notes.

Follow the instructions above for preparing to dip in clear wax and add the color or colors you want to use to each container. You will need to melt the wax in each container, so either do all of one color at once and then switch to the second, third, etc. colors in sequence; or, if you have the space and the equipment, you can set up more than one double-boiler for melting the wax for overdipping.

There are many interesting, dramatic, curious, fun effects to be made with overdipping. We'll explore these unusual types of candles in the following chapter.

  1. Home
  2. Candle Making
  3. Dipped Candles
  4. Method for Overdipping Candles
Visit other About.com sites: