Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sand Candles

This past weekend, we went on a very quick tent camping outing to a local state park. Dane is preparing to go to cub scout camp, and we wanted to get a night of practice in before we are off to camp. One of the things I remember from when I was younger and camping was making sand candles. I thought it would be fun to share this experience with Dane, and now all of you.

When you are preparing your sand mold on the beach, you need to dig a hole. Anyone who has worked with sand knows that keeping the shape of dry sand is very difficult. It is best if you wet it down. If you happen to forget a bucket or cup.....
You could always just fill your shoes with water. They do work quite well to transport the water from the waters edge to the area you have chosen to make your candles. (Note, your candles will sit over night, so be careful in your placement on the beach. We chose an area that was near the edge of the beach and some trees where there was not a lot of foot traffic.)
Once you have the "sand mud" you can dig out any shape you would like for your candle and add any rocks you would like to have on the outer edge of your candle.
You will need to find a stick that is longer than the diameter of your candle mold. You can see in the photo above, you will place the stick across the hole and wind the wick around it.
I failed to get any photos at the campfire. We use an old coffee can with a handle made from a 2x4 that is attached with some screws. You will place your wax, scent, and coloring in the can and heat it in the campfire (typically near the edge on some hot coals.)  If you have old candles, you can save the stubs to melt down, or you can buy slabs of wax to use. Dane opted to have purple candles with a banana scent this time around.
When the wax has melted, stir it with a stick and transport it to the beach. Gently pour wax into each of your molds, making sure that the wick stays in the center and down through the majority of the candle.
Stack a bunch of sticks and/or make a sign to warn people about the hot wax.  The candles actually set quite quickly, but you will want to make sure that you leave them overnight to insure that they are completely hardened and cooled.
Enjoy your night, but don't forget to retrieve your project in the morning! Remove the warning sticks and unwind your wick from the stick you used to hold it.
Dig your candle out of the sand.
The bottom and sides of your candle will be covered in sand and rocks. You will need to cut the wick to a reasonable length and place your candle on a surface safe for burning and collecting the wax if it runs. (I recommend a plate with a lip, add some sea shells, more rocks, and sand around it for decoration if desired.
Enjoy your candles!

My friend died

 I learned a hell of a lot from Dan Hodgins.  He was mentor, a friend, and a "bone shaker" for many of us in the field of Early Ch...