Beeswax Luminaries, My New Love!

My finished luminaries, lit with tea lights

Oh how I love beeswax luminaries! The warm glow when a tea light (or LED “tea light”) is burning inside, the soft hint of honey fragrance from the warmed beeswax, and the satisfaction of learning a new craft, are all reasons I’ve enjoyed this project. While I wish I could say I came up with this all on my own, I actually found this idea by accident, while looking for beeswax candle making ideas.  It looked like it was right up my alley and I just had to try it!

Well, let’s dive right in to this project!  You will need:

  • Beeswax
  • Balloons (I used water balloons, because it’s what was available, and I wanted smaller luminaries)
  • A double boiler or deep pot/container suitable for melting the beeswax, that will fit inside a larger pot with a bit of water (basically,an improvised double boiler).   My container was deep enough, but should’ve been a few inches wider. It was roughly 4 inches wide, and not quite suitable for my largest luminary.
  • A cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or foil, for setting the luminaries on in between dips.

The first thing to do, is get your beeswax melting.  I heated my container of beeswax in a water bath (my improvised “double boiler”).  I would urge you to use an old pan or stainless steel bowl, deep and wide enough to dip your water balloons in, that you won’t need for anything else. Beeswax can be a bit of a chore to remove.

My filled water balloons, dried and ready for dipping!

While your beeswax is melting over medium heat, get your cookie sheet with parchment paper (or foil) ready, and fill your balloons with water.  Fill them till they are the size you want your luminaries to be, taking care to not overfill them.  I filled three water balloons, three slightly different sizes with plans to group them together.  (You can make them all the same size if you prefer.) Make sure your balloons are dry before you begin the dipping process!

 

Once the beeswax is melted, you can begin to dip the balloons.  I dipped each balloon twice, and then set them down (gently causing a flat spot on the bottom so they could stand upright), and allowed the wax to cool and harden.  Then I repeated the process until they were the thickness I wanted. (Except for the largest luminary!)The largest of the balloons, didn’t get dipped enough times, because my pot wasn’t wide enough, so hopefully you learn from my mistake!

After several more dips

When I was done with the dipping process, I allowed the wax to completely cool, and harden.  After that, I held the luminaries over my sink,  snipped the top of the water balloons with scissors, and allowed the water to drain out.  I then gently pulled the balloon out, and dried the inside of the luminaries.

My finished luminaries, ready for tea lights!

To give them a more finished look, I trimmed the openings of each luminary to the width and height I wanted, and then melted the tops by holding each upside down, and placing it momentarily  on a hot pan (medium heat), to give the edge a smoother finish.   I protected my pan with foil.  I don’t recommend doing this directly on a pan unless you don’t need it for anything else.  Once the top edges were smoothed out, I did the same on the bottoms to ensure there was a nice, flat spot so the luminaries wouldn’t tip over.   Then it was time for lighting some tea lights!

A word of caution:  please don’t use anything larger than a tea light, or LED battery operated “tea light” in these!  Because they are made of beeswax, they can over heat, and melt or even catch on fire if a larger candle is burned inside of them.   Also, be sure the flame of the tea light (if using instead of a battery powered LED tea light) is in the middle, and not off to one side.  Again, this can cause the wax to overheat around the edge and melt if the heat from the tea light is not allowed to escape through the top opening.  Making the diameter of the opening a bit larger can help, but still, please don’t leave the luminary unattended.

 

 

 

 

 

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