For well over a year, while building our tiny house, we lit our home with beeswax candles. Although our home is now equipped with solar electricity and LED lights, we still occasionally enjoy using beeswax candles for their warm glowing light and amazing scent. In the process of becoming so intimate with candlelight, and living next door to several electricity-free homesteads that also use candlelight, we’ve collected a few tips and tricks for lighting a home with beeswax candles.
We found that taper candles gave off the best light. Votives, tea lights, and pillars are beautiful to behold, but we have found that the strongest, clearest light comes from a taper candle. We purchase beeswax from a local honey farm, and make dozens of taper candles at a time using these dippers. (This blog post shows the beautiful process of making the candles.)
Freeze them first
I had never heard of this trick until I started mentioning candles on the Homestead Honey Facebook page, and then got the same advice over and over again: to prolong a candle’s life, freeze it for at least 3 hours prior to lighting. It will burn better and last longer. While we have never tried freezing our candles, we do keep them in a very cold place!
Trim your wick!
Keeping your wick trimmed to 1/4″ and centered in the taper will result in the best burn and the least amount of dripping. Dripping may look cool, but it’s not the most efficient use of beeswax.
Placing a mirror behind your candlelight will help create more light. This is because the light is reflected out into the room by the mirror, rather than absorbed by the wall behind.
Light the task, not the space
We typically burn 3-4 beeswax candles at a time, and find that while the light is sufficient to cast a warm glow over our entire 350 square foot home, it may not be bright enough to read or write. For closer tasks, it really is important to place a candle right where you need it, and close at hand.
Keep away from drafts!
Cross winds and drafts can cause your candle to burn unevenly, resulting in dripping.
Use a snuffer
One thing I really dislike is the smoke and soot that is caused when blowing out a candle. We’ve found a few ways to prevent this: One is by using a candle snuffer, allowing the candle to extinguish completely before removing the snuffer. The other is using your good old fashioned spit! Simply spit on your fingers and quickly place your wet fingers on the wick.
Blow them out!
This is probably the most important tip. Blow those candles out before you go to bed! It can be so very relaxing to live in a house with candlelight, but it’s also very dangerous to let them burn down while you sleep! We like to use Ikea solar lamps in tandem with candles. When we climb into bed to read or put the kids to sleep, we’ll blow out all the candles and use the solar lamps in bed.
Carol L says
Thank you for all these great articles on how you live off grid. I live in Eugene, home of Glory Bee! I love to go to their stroefront and wander! Do you make your own candles or buy them? I want to try making them, and purchased a huge bag of raw beeswax. I understand that you can’t use containers for beeswax candles, due to the heat….but then, I’ve seen and read many blogs that make them in containers…so wondering. I did find some wide wicks that are supposed to give off more light, and purchased them (from Amazon). Hoping to try making some candles of my own soon.
Again, thanks for the great posts!
I’m not there yet, but have a generator for power-outs, Would LOVE to go solar! But a 60-ish woman living alone …without education on these things make it hard to do on a limited income. So I get my “fix” vicariously through you! Thanks!!!
Teri Page says
I used to live in Eugene, OR as well!
Yes, we did make our own beeswax candles – you can read about that here: https://homestead-honey.com/2013/12/09/making-beeswax-candles/
I’ve also seen people make them in mason jars. You do want to make sure that you’re using the right size wick – the folks at Glory Bee can help you pick out the right size for what you decide to make.
Veronica Marks says
For some reason, I have never thought of putting a mirror behind a candle. I love the idea of having more candlelight in that way instead of having to light additional candles. I have a large mirror in my bedroom and will definitely be putting my candles in front of it tonight.
Jean | DelightfulRepast.com says
Teri, since I first tried beeswax candles years ago, I’ve never purchased another paraffin candle. Walking past one of those popular candle stores in malls gives me an instant headache. The fragrances and the candles themselves are just neurotoxic petrochemicals. The naturally sweet aroma of unscented beeswax is the only way to go!
Teri Page says
I agree! I also get headaches from synthetic scents – perfumes as well. The beeswax is just so beautiful!
Anna T says
We live in an area of electricity shortages, especially in winter, and when I know I can expect a power cut-off I take a lit candle with me when I’m taking a shower, because the last thing you want when you’re showering, or giving your baby a bath, is to be stuck in complete darkness. I like beeswax candles too; do you find that the quality of the wick has an effect as well?
Teri Page says
That is a smart idea! I have only made candles with wick from Glory Bee, which is a great distributor and they tend to sell really good quality supplies. So I’m not sure that I’ve ever noticed a poor quality wick.