Back in the days when I was married to a beekeeper I used to make candles from beeswax and sell them at our farmers market booth. At this time of the year I would be buying beeswax from other beekeepers in preparation for Christmas.
A big block of beeswax is the most beautiful and amazing thing. The aroma rivals any rose: it makes you swoon with ecstasy. It’s so smooth and pretty you just want to rub your hands on it. The amazing part is that these blocks and blocks of beeswax came out flake by flake from the these little tiny creatures’ pockets.
Bees have wax glands much like the wax in our ears except it forms on the sides of their legs. They pull out the wax and use it to build the cells the honey goes into. As each cell is filled and properly dried, (one of a bee’s life-stages is they stand by the incoming nectar and fan it with their wings to dry out excess moisture) the bees then seal the opening with wax it to store it. When honey is harvested the wax cappings are broken to let out the honey. It comes out with the honey when extracted in the centrifuge. Sitting overnight in buckets, the wax floats to the top and we would scoop it off, drain it, clean it and melt it down. But we did not produce enough to supply me with what I needed so also I bought it.
I had a permanent candle-making set-up in my laundry room; a hot plate with a big double-boiler for melting and a smaller double boiler for pouring. The molds were set up on my dryer. This time of year I would be starting to do a batch everyday to stock up for Christmas. I would fill all the molds on my dryer and let them sit 24 hours. The next day melt down more wax as I popped the molds the trimmed the new candles.
Besides candles I also made hand-cream and lip balm from beeswax but I would have to say the candles were the best part. It’s just such a pleasant job.
The hand-cream and lip balm were made in the kitchen. I had a small mail order business for my lip balm from advertising in the Ontario Beekeepers Assc. newsletter. Christmas was a good time for those products also. For my own farmer’s market stand I made Christmas ornaments from beeswax using chocolate molds with looped waxed string.
Candles is the part I missed most. Candles may have played a role in why it was so damn hard to leave an abusive marriage. If I left I would have to give this all up; my house in the woods on a river, my great job and my mate who was also my partner. Finally he decided for me by kicking me out because I was “useless” and “a parasite”. I didn’t argue ‘to please let me stay’.
He visits me sometimes when he comes this way to buy bulk honey from a local beekeeper. He brought me a box of candles as he took over making them. Many of them would not stay lit and were not as good mine. I made sure the wick was big enough and dipped it in very hot beeswax to saturate and ‘prime’ the wick. He wouldn’t have the patience for this.
I saved all the candles and bought my own mold at a candle shop. This prompt reminded me of that so I got out the mold and all the saved beeswax. It’s bittersweet. There is still a twinge of sadness at what I lost. I’ll never really ‘get over it’.
But I can still make my own beeswax candle.