Basic Taper Candle Dipping
For centuries, taper candles were the most common type of candle and were used heavily as a light source. These were usually made from tallow rendered from animal fat. Because tallow candles often have an offensive odor, beeswax was preferable although its use was more common in churches.
These days, tapers are used more for decor and mood lighting and come in a wide variety of sizes and colors. The most common material for taper candles now is paraffin wax, although some are still made in beeswax.
The following illustrated instructions show how to make your own hand dipped taper candles and cover everything from wax formula to setup and dipping.
PLEASE NOTE!!! - Candle making can be dangerous if proper safety procedures are not followed. Please read these Safety Rules before attempting any candle making projects. A double boiler set up must be used for all wax melting.
Dipping Wax - For best results we need a hard, opaque wax. Mix enough of this formula to fill your dipping vat.
- 1 pound of 140 MP wax
- 5 Tablespoons of Stearic Acid
- Candle dye - Optional
Color Overdip - Optional. Some candle makers prefer to overdip tapers as it provides a richer color.
- 1 pound of 140 MP wax
- 5 - 10% Pigment Dye (note, use of regular candle dyes for overdipping results in washed out colors)
Beeswax - If you prefer to use beeswax, then it should be a high quality beeswax used straight with no additives. Important: Beeswax is a natural product that varies from one supplier to the next and from batch to batch. because of this the wick size needed may vary. A general rule when working with beeswax is to use a wick one or two sizes larger than that recommended for paraffin.
Candle Making Supplies And Materials
The following candle making supplies were used to make this candle. Clicking on the item name will bring you to that item's page with a full description and ordering information.
- Dye Block or Dye Flake - If you wish to color the dip wax. As many colors as desired.
- Pigment Dye - Optional - Use if you wish to color dip finished tapers.
- 140 Melt Point Wax - Enough to fill the dipping vat plus several pounds for replacing that which is used as you dip.
- Stearic Acid - 5 Tablespoons per pound of wax.
- Dipping Vat - A deep metal container to hold the dipping wax.
- Dipping Frame - Optional - The instructions shown here are for small scale dipping projects. If you wish to produce large quantities of tapers the use of 5 - 8 dipping frames is recommended.
- Melting / Pouring Pot - Optional. The wax may be melted in the dipping vat using a double boiler setup, however melting it separately and pouring it into the vat is much faster. This may also be used as a vat for very small dipped candles.
- Thermometer - One.
- Wick - 18 Ply Flat Braid wick is most commonly used in 3/4 inch paraffin tapers. For other sizes of candle please refer to this wick selection chart.
- Wire - To form dipper.
- Pliers - To cut and shape wire.
- Nuts, or Washers - To weight wick bottoms. From hardware store.
- Hobby Knife - A sharp, pointy blade is needed. From a hobby or craft store.
- Old Pot - To use as the bottom half of a double boiler - dipping vats cannot be placed on direct heat.
Step By Step Taper Dipping Instructions
A length of heavy wire is used to prepare a pair dipper.
Use a pliers to form a U shape in both ends.
Bend the center of the wire to form a loop for ease of use. This will make one pair of tapers at a time.
Nuts or washers are used to weight the bottom of the wicks for dipping.
Wrap the wick onto the frame as shown.
Tie a washer or nut to the bottom of each end of the wick.
The dipping vat is set up as shown. NOTE: dipping vats cannot withstand direct heat and must be placed in a pot containing water to create a double boiler set up. It is a fire hazard to place dipping vats on direct heat as well.
The temperature you dip at will have a major bearing on how the finished candle looks. Temperatures in the 150 degree F. range will provide a more rustic look (great for re enactors). A smoother finish will be obtained in the 160 degree F. range. You may need to experiment a bit to find a dipping temperature that suits you.
Disclaimer: The information presented here is accurate to the best of my knowledge and common candle making practices as of the time of this writing. This article was originally published in December 1998 and was rewritten and modernized in January 2006, and June 2011. The author and the publisher accept no liability for the use or misuse of any of the information presented in this article. This article is presented for informational purposes and is used at your own risk.
Author: Bob Sherman
Publisher: Bobby's Craft Boutique Inc.
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