I absolutely love where I live. It took me over three long years to get to this place of love and appreciation for Asheville, but I’m here. It isn’t that Asheville is inherently uncool (quite the opposite, in fact). We’ve just had a hard time of it in the move from Brooklyn to the Back Country. But with a great new job, projects rolling in for the hubs, and homesteading falling into place, I’m finally excited to call this place home.
This Saturday morning found us lazily making our way to breakfast with the in-laws. We frequent a cute brunch place on the east side called Cafe Azalea, and yes, they’re awesome cause their food is awesome. But they’re also awesome because they source nearly everything locally. After gorging on rosemary buttermilk biscuits (made in house, of course) with local raspberry jam, and NC shrimp and grits with local goat cheese, we made our way to a sweet little homesteading shop called Small Terrain. I want my mudroom and garage to look like this shop. They carry everything from gardening, chicken-keeping and beekeeping supplies to hard-to-find canning jars, organic manure, dried organic herbs and so many homesteading books, I’d think I’d died and gone to heaven. I’ve been chatting with the owner, Natalie, for a few months now, and it looks like we’ll set up some time this spring for me to lead workshops at Small Terrain on a few homesteading subjects near and dear to my heart.
But I can’t walk into a store like that and not walk out with anything. Since I saw pics of her shop on a certain social networking site, I’ve been drooling over her selection of candle-making supplies. So I brought a small bounty home with me. An hour on this Saturday afternoon has been spent with this loot:
In case you weren’t sure, this is my idea of a thrilling time. Ready-to-use candle wicks; squat mason jars; natural, untreated and unadulterated beeswax — in two forms! (who knew they made beeswax into small pelleted form!?). It’s time to make some candles, y’all.
Usually, I prefer to do things the most natural and traditional way imaginable (read: the hard way), but I just don’t have the time or energy these days. In walks pelleted beeswax. This little project was so unbelievably easy, it doesn’t feel like a homesteading project in the least. Here’s what you do:
- Purchase all of above ingredients except the block of wax (that’s for another day). You can obviously use just about any glass jar to put candles in, so see what’s lying around. You’ll also need a pair of scissors, a baking sheet, and a working oven (I lived in New York for years, I don’t take for granted that everyone has a working oven!). Essential oils are optional, but fun.
- Preheat the oven to 250*F.
- Trim the wicks if they are ridiculously long. You’ll want a few inches of wick above the candle surface; you can always trim it later.
- Take a few pellets of wax and warm it in your fingers. Press firmly to the bottom of the wick and press the wick firmly to the bottom of the glass jar. This will keep the wick in place while the wax melts around it.*
- Pour the wax pellets all around the wick(s) up to about 1/4 inch from the top of the jar (the pellets will sink considerably as they melt). Gently tap the jar on the counter to settle the pellets.
- If you’re using essential oils, put a few drops/sprays in now. I like to layer the scent as I pour in the pellets, but it all ends up blending together.
- Place jars on a cookie sheet, and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes. Check periodically to see how the pellets are melting, which depends largely on the power of your oven.
- When the wax is fully melted, pull the jars out of the oven and allow them to cool for several hours. That’s it!
Make ‘em for holiday gifts, school projects, power outages or just sheer boredom. Your kitchen will smell amazing!
*Some candle-makers swear by using two small wicks instead of one large wick. If your jars are wide, such as the Ball jelly jars above, consider using two wicks. It’s trickier to get them to stay in place while “cooking”, but two wicks will heat the wax more evenly across the surface of the candle while burning. This results in less wax waste when the candle is kaput and a longer burning time overall.