Floating Citronella Candles

Floating Citronella Candles 17Spending time outdoors in the summer is always an opportunity for a good time, but dealing with the bugs that also want to spend some quality time with you is less good. And you can get giant buckets of citronella candles and citronella torches and all that stuff, but they lack a bit of elegance. So for this upcoming shindig I’ve got going on, I thought I’d add a little something fancy to my bug repellent and float some citronella candles in glass containers filled with water and greenery. I had trouble finding floating citronella candles, however, so I decided to make my own, and here’s how I did it. Floating Citronella Candles 13

The most important thing you need is citronella essential oil. Now, a lot of people find the scent to be a little off-putting, so I decided to add in some clove oil as well to mellow it out. Cloves are also a very good bug repellent.

Floating Citronella Candles 4And you need some wax. I picked soy wax for this project, because it has a lower melting point and tends to throw scent a little better than paraffin or beeswax (which of course has its own scent). Floating Citronella Candles 6

You also need some wee containers. I have these miniature tart tins that I picked up from Value Village a million years ago. I have never used them for tarts but they’re handy for lots of other things.

Floating Citronella Candles 1If you don’t happen to have miniature tart tins, a set of silicone muffin cups (or a silicone tray of any sort with small depressions in it) will also work quite well. Floating Citronella Candles 7

You’ll also need some wicks, which you can purchase, or you can make your own, which is what I did.

Floating Citronella Candles 8Chuck your wax into the top of a double boiler and set that to melting over medium-low heat. Remember that if you use flaked wax, as I did here, that the melted volume will be about half what the solid volume is. Add minimum¬†3 drops citronella essential oil per cup of wax, and use half the amount of any additional scent. Once it’s all melted, let it cool for a little bit before pouring it. Floating Citronella Candles 5
While that was melting and cooling, I sat down with my wicks and some hot glue.

Floating Citronella Candles 2Because my wicks don’t have those nifty metal bases, I had to attach them to the bottom of the containers I was using. Don’t use too much glue – you actually want this stuff to come off. Floating Citronella Candles 9

I didn’t bother doing this for the silicone ones, but the metal dishes I rubbed with petroleum jelly to ensure that the candle would come out again when it was done.

Floating Citronella Candles 10Then I carefully filled each container. I actually used one of the empty silicone muffin cups as a scoop and it worked really well. Floating Citronella Candles 11

I used straws and pens to hold up the wicks that were determined to droop.

Floating Citronella Candles 12Then I forced myself not to touch them for like AN HOUR. We had Gren’s sister Bakhita staying with us for the weekend and neither dog would come near me because I stank of citronella. Floating Citronella Candles 14

Once they were solid and cool I carefully popped them out of their containers. For the metal ones I wiggled them loose on the sides first, then turned them upside down and gave them a whack with a small hammer, and then it was easy to pull them out by the wicks.

Floating Citronella Candles 15I’m storing them until the shindig but here you can see a sample of my “vision” for how I’m going to set them up. Floating Citronella Candles 16

Aromatic Fire Starters

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These easy peasy lemon squeezy fire starters are a perfect stocking stuffer for anyone who loves to curl up in front of a nice wood fire on a cold evening. They’re great for avid campers or armchair bookworms alike, and don’t contain any of the scary chemicals you find in a lot of commercial fire starters. And you can make them as cutesy as you like. So I’m going full cutesy.

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Now, the whole point of a fire starter is that it keeps burning long enough to get the larger pieces of wood in your fire going. For that, it’s handy to have some sort of wick/candle thing going on. So we’re going to start by making our own wicks. Now that I know how to do this I’m never buying pre-made wicks from the store ever again. All you need is water, borax, salt, and cotton string. I’m going to guess that most of you have those on hand. You can pick up borax from the cleaning aisle of your grocery store. It’s a very handy item.

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Anyone else find it super meta that the Borax girl is holding a box with a picture of herself on it, holding a box with a picture of herself on it … ?

Dissolve 4 tablespoons borax and 2 tablespoons salt in 1 1/2 cups warm water. Or dissolve it as much as you can. Mine didn’t dissolve all the way.

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Now cut a length of cotton string (butcher’s twine, anything like that). I decided seeing as I had the solution going I’d make a lot of wicks ahead of time for future use.

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Submerge the string in the solution and leave it overnight. Mine started to grow a few crystals as the supersaturated solution cooled. SCIENCE. The next day, hang the wet string to dry completely.

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Now all you need to do is melt some paraffin wax, which you can find in the canning aisle of the grocery or hardware store. You *could* use beeswax for this project but I think it’s a little pricey for something you’re going to chuck in a fire.

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Melt the wax in a double boiler or heatproof bowl suspended over simmering water.

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Dip your borax string in the wax two or three times and let it harden between dippings.  Tada. You have made wicks.

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Keep that melted wax going – make sure to check your water periodically to make sure it doesn’t boil away, because that happens and it’s not very good for your pot.

Line a muffin tin with cupcake cups. I picked owls because they’re all woodsy and stuff. And hella cute.

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And I’ve been saving my dryer lint for like forever. It’s full of dog hair, which is also flammable. Yay.

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So I put some dryer lint in the bottom of each cup, together with half a cinnamon stick, a sprig of fresh rosemary, and a dried bay leaf.

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Then I stuck the wick in and added a bit of melted wax, just to get the wick positioned where I wanted it. The wick doesn’t have to be centred in this thing – this is not a candle – it just needs to be sticking up and out of the cup.

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Then I added in enough wax to mostly fill the cup. Don’t worry about submerging all the tidbits inside. They add visual interest.

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Let the wax set for several hours. Once it starts to develop a skin on top like this you can start moving things around in the cups if you can’t leave well enough alone or if the wicks fall down.

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Set the finished fire starters on your mantle in a pretty bowl.

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Or hand them out in matching gift bags to the pyromaniacs in your life.

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