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Colonial America – Dipping Candles

August 6, 2011
The finished product - creative candles.
The finished product – creative candles.

Dipping Candles

Dipping candles would have been a chore colonial children would be responsible for doing.  We incorporated it in our simulation day and it was a huge success.

Making candles by dipping string into hot melted wax is easy for children to do but requires adult supervising at all times.  We used:

  •  an empty coffee can
  • a hot plate
  • oven mitts
  • old candles
  • short sturdy sticks
  • 2 planks of wood or limbs
  • a pair of saw horses
  • stick or candle wick you can purchase at Micheal’s cut in approximately10” pieces
  •  bucket of water

We melted the wax the day beforehand so we could be sure to have enough ready for our students. The wax melts quickly and it gets very hot, so be sure to find an area to melt it that it level and a safe distance from any activity.  We worked outside to insure that our students wouldn’t accidentally knock it over or if it spit out liquid when it was really hot, no one would get hurt.

When it is time to dip the candles, I would strongly suggest doing it outside too.  It makes a mess on the bucket and I can only image what it would do to carpeting! Set up everything close at hand.  You’ll want to tie the wick onto the sticks and lay the 2  planks on the saw horses so the sticks can rest on them. The sticks will be placed on the planks to hang to dry and harden.

Since the wax was melted the day before, it does take too long to remelt it.  You want the wax to be melted but not so hot that it is bubbling.  It could spit and burn a small hand.

Showing them how to do it

Model how to carefully place the wick into the wax, leaving about 2” at the top, without touching the can or the wax as it comes out.  Then they can step back to let someone else dip their candle and dip it in the water.  Then they dip it again.  They will continue dipping the candle in the wax then the water to allow it to harden slightly.  The candle will build on to each layer.  When the candle is as big as they wish, they hang it on the planks to harden.

Dipping candles together.

Dipping candles together.


Don’t let the wax go down too low in the can. You just need to put more wax in to melt as you go.  You don’t want your children to reach their hands into the can.

If you can do it over a camp fire, it would be very cool.  Make a ring of stones around the fire pit and start the fire.  If you make a platform with 3 sticks about the same length that are sturdy, then tie them loosely around one end to hold them together then spread out the other ends so they stand up. You can hang a heavy pot from it and add the wax.  Stir the wax with a stick.  Or you can just put the coffee can in the fire.

My students enjoyed making the candles and were very pleased with how they turned out!

My students engaged in dipping their candles.

My students engaged in dipping their candles.


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One Response to Colonial America – Dipping Candles

  1. soy candles on February 26, 2013 at 1:06 am

    Thanks for sharing your views and thoughts on this. I like your post and my friends will enjoy it as well.

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