I love to watch historical movies. And depending on the quality of the movie, my family enjoys watching them with me. I may object loudly to bad history, costumes, and well I may not be the best person to go watch it with. One thing my husband and I often joke about are the sheer number of candles we see lit in movies. Candles were expensive and time consuming to make y’all. To illustrate that history lesson to our kids before we headed to Colonial Williamsburg a few years ago we had a candlemaking lesson to learn just how tiring that can be.
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A quick note on candlemaking, that’s relevant to this lesson
While candlemaking is labor-intensive, we are not using the most efficient method for making our candles. But the time of colonial America they had all sorts of cool tricks and tips for making candles much faster than we were making ours.
When we visited Colonial Williamsburg after our candlemaking lesson, the kids were quite enraged to find out they had:
- racks where they could make several candles at once in some of the larger and more prosperous homes.
- candle molds, to ensure their candles were all the same size exactly (a problem we struggled with for sure later)
This is quite similar to how they’d make candles at Colonial Williamsburg with their molds. If you’re interested in the late colonial era I highly recommend the Townsend channel. He does weekly videos about something in colonial life as an advertisement for his reenactor shop.
And just to see all of the different ways they would light their house, this is quite amusing.
Supplies for candlemaking lesson
Let’s make some candles!
Okay, you’re going to start by pouring some of your candle wax into the empty tin can, and breaking up the crayons.
While the kids are busy breaking crayons into small pieces, grab a pan and fill it about halfway with water. Once the kids have finished breaking crayons into bits, put the can into the water and start heating it.
Side note, if you have a mini crockpot, you can just use this instead. When we’ve been to various different historical reenactments, they’ve done that for melting the wax.
As the wax is melting, you need to stir it occasionally to help it melt better and so that it doesn’t burn.
All right, now comes the part where we got something wrong at first.
I’m still trying to figure out just what we did wrong, and we tried a couple of different ideas on this one.
So we started slowly dipping the our wicks in the wax. We formed a line, so we took turns and dipping our nascent candle then slowly walking to the back of our very short line.
But, our candles weren’t getting bigger. I’d been to enough reenactment sites to know by the time we’d dipped a candle 10 times, it should be bigger than it was.
So, I started a quick search on my phone and found….
Nothing really helpful.
So, I searched some more and found this video (or one very like it because after all we did this like five years ago).
Now, our candles were starting to look nice and forming into some pretty cool candles.
Somehow I don’t have a picture of the final result, I may need to redo this again and see if I can fix that.
With all of the leftover wax I attempted to make a jar candle, but I think the wick I had for it was not designed to use with a jar candle, and so it didn’t work too well.
So, overall our candlemaking lesson was a very mixed results. Thankfully we’ve done this other places and had some great results there.