Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Paschal Candle Making--Melting Wax and Pouring

A paschal candle is typically very large for a candle. The diameter is 3-5 inches and several feet tall. That means a lot of wax goes into making it. We've wound up using almost 15 pounds of wax for the candle (luckily the store sells an 11 pound block and a 4 pound block). Melting it all isn't easy and could take forever if there's only one pot.

Luckily, last year's candle maker found this out and managed to put together a pile of pots to use for melting the wax. One large lobster pot is used to accumulate the melted wax from three or four other pots, depending on how many burners you have on the stove. I know the web site recommends using a double-boiler for safety, but that slows the melting process down and would require 4 double boilers in this scheme! So smaller chunks of wax are melted in the small pots and poured into the big pot. The small pots easily melt in five minutes or so, resulting in many pours into the big pot. I think it took us about half an hour to 45 minutes to melt all the wax for the initial pour.

The main pot did get above the 175-185 degree temperature recommended for pouring the candle, so we did have to wait a bit for it to cool down. Good thing we had a candle thermometer to keep track. While it was cooling, we double checked the set up for the candle mold.

To hold a four foot mold up straight, we used a five-gallon bucket. Last year we filled it with sand, but this year we had a change and a breakthrough. We didn't have any sand handy here at the house, so we used the small white decorating stone chips that have been sitting in the garage for decades. That's the change; the breakthrough involves putting the mold into the bucket. Instead of trying to dig a hole, I put a cardboard carton inside the bucket before filling it with stone chips. The candle mold fit nicely into the box. After we were done pouring, we pulled it out and the rocks filled in nicely.

The mold was loose enough in the box that we could angle it slightly to the side (something recommended so that air bubbles don't get trapped in the wax right after you pour). We poked a hole in an aluminum foil pan and used that as a funnel to pour in the hot wax. It worked pretty well until we took it away and both tried to look down the mold to see how high it was filled. Yes, we clonked heads together. Eventually it was full enough. After tapping the side of the mold with a screwdriver (to help the bubbles come off the mold and come to the top) for five minutes, we stood the mold upright and let it start to cool. After about half an hour, I checked and poke some vent holes as recommended on the web page. We have a big bamboo stick that was used last year that worked well. Half an hour later I repoked the holes. Then we left the candle in the garage overnight.

The next step will be in the next blog...

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