How to use jam jars, the remains of old candles and a cocktail stick to make new candles

Sheena's homemade candles

Sheena's homemade candles - Credit: Archant

Anyone who burns candles with a diameter wider than a small thumbnail will be familiar with the problem of tunnelling ? whether they know it or not, writes Sheena Grant.

Tunnelling is when the wax of a lit candle doesn’t melt all the way across, leaving a hard outer “tunnel” of wax and making the wick increasingly hard to light, until it is eventually extinguished by a growing pool of molten wax. Now, I use a lot of candles (as well as being pretty, they help warm a cold conservatory) so I know all ? well, a fair amount ? about tunnelling, principally that it results in the waste of most of a good candle.

Apparently, according to those more expert than I am, tunnelling is not inevitable. It’s decided by the initial burn, when the size of the wax pool is pretty much set. That means that the first time your candle is lit, you may have to let it burn for a long while ? to be precise, an hour per inch in diameter. To be honest, that’s more time than I, at any rate, have to sit at my dining room table, watching a candle burn.

So I’ve come up with another solution: making new candles from the hard wax tunnel. It’s fairly simple and even a little enjoyable. First, you buy some new wick (mine cost £1.99 for five metres from a craft shop in Ipswich) and get a mould (I used some old jam jars). Then you break up your wax as small as you can and melt it down in a heat-proof container you won’t need for anything else ever again, set in a pan of boiling water.

I cut a length of wick, secured it in the bottom of the jar with sticky tape and tied the top end to a cocktail stick balanced across the top of the jar to keep it taut. When the wax was melted I poured it into the mould (wearing rubber gloves in case of accidents). The result is two new candles for very little money ? and metres of wick left over to make many more.


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• Last week, I wrote about my bid to get fitter without resorting to gym membership. Since then I’ve been biking twice, played tennis on free public courts, made use of my tin can “dumbbells” and run up and down the stairs more times than I care to remember. So far, so good!

Email Sheena and share your thoughts or tweet using #ThriftyLiving

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