“Blows the thaw-wind pleasantly,
Drips the soaking rain,
By fits looks down the waking sun:
Young grass springs on the plain;
Young leaves clothe early hedgerow trees;
Seeds, and roots, and stones of fruits,
Swollen with sap put forth their shoots;
Curled-headed ferns sprout in the lane;
Birds sing and pair again.”
By: Christina Rossetti
April has arrived, and with it, it’s famous rain showers. The last few days have been damp and slow, but today we have a break and a glimmer of sunshine. Spring used to be confusing to me. It was sort of an annoyance and a blip on the way to summer. But as the years have passed, maybe just as I’ve gotten older and deliberately slower, it has sneakily and persistently been nudging me, telling me of its beauty, its sacredness, its purpose. Spring is unpredictable and around here, at least, it can be a bit disconcerting. It is, however, all of this change and discord that jolts us from the sleep of winter. Like a mother waking her sleepy child on a Sunday morning, first whispering, then brushing the child’s hair off their face, and finally shaking her child’s shoulders, saying, “wake up darling! The whole world is waiting for you!” This image and the scents, views, tastes and sounds that accompany it have helped Spring to climb out of seasonal obscurity and onto my list of favorite times of the year.
Around the house, I get so much joy in filling the space with the scents of the season, whatever they may be. Greg is also a bit of a good smell fanatic. I have essential oil diffusers puffing out citrus and favorite candles burning herbs and florals. Scents emit so much mood and have the ability to transport you to a memory or a dream all while remaining barefoot in the kitchen.
My inclinations always lean toward the belief that I can make the thing that I love. I can make the pesto, or the tea, or the table (enter Greg). I just always assume that its possible. And so, I have been wanting to create my own candles and scents for quite a while. I finally decided to give it a go, slightly influenced by the book I have been reading Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer. In the first section of the book, Robin talks a lot about a gift economy; an exchange of goods or services that do not generate monetary profit but whose profits are expected to be reciprocated through giving. Her discussion of this could not be replicated by me (I highly recommend the book) so I won’t attempt to. But one of the aspects that I really related to was the idea that items that are made or gifted, inherently contain more meaning and value than the same item that was purchased, exchanging money. I have always innately understood this and striven to create more of a gift economy in our small family, but it was such a treat to read Robin’s explanation of it and also her argument for a broader implementation of the concept.
Sorry for the small tangent but being reminded of that making and gifting tradition while smelling the rain and watching our lilacs prepare to bloom, brought me to creating a sweet candle that can burn some of our favorite scents and hopefully share a love of this season with the girls. As I said, I have been wanting to make my own soy candles for quite a while. The supplies have been sitting and waiting for many months and this season seemed like the perfect time to give it a go. I decided to use essential oils as the fragrance, because I had them around the house and also because the benefits of them are many. I settled on a combo of citrus (bergamot and grapefruit) and herbs (basil). The combo is classic, fresh and clean; hinting towards warmer days spent in the garden.
The process was surprisingly quick and easy, meaning I just might be making seasonal candles for around the house and to share with others. Have to perpetuate that gift economy!
- soy wax flakes
- candle wicks
- essential oils
- candle container (can be anything really, a mug, a mason jar, an old candle vessel, etc.)
- double boiler or pot with spout and larger pot
- kitchen scale
- glue dots
- label maker (totally optional but fun)
- Measure soy wax flakes by placing a large bowl onto a kitchen scale and zeroing it out. Then use whatever vessel you are going to use for your candle to scoop the wax flakes into the bowl. Do this twice. The wax will eventually melt to about half its mass. For my candle the amount of wax was just about 1 lb.
- Place the wax flakes into a double boiler or a pot that is setting in another pot with about 1 inch of water in it. Don’t melt the wax directly on the stove. Heat the pots over medium heat and allow the wax to fully melt and get up to 180 degrees.
- Remove the wax from the stove and allow it to cool down to 130 degrees.
- While the wax is cooling, mix your essential oils. I ended up using around 250 drops. This sounds like a ton but considering how much I put in our diffusers, it was surprisingly not that much. I used 75 drops of basil, 90 drops of bergamot, and 85 drops of grapefruit.
- Prepare your wicks and container. Drag your wick through the oils for some added scent. Then dip it in the hot wax and fully coat it. Set it on a piece of parchment paper to dry. Make sure your container is clean and dry and place a glue dot in the center of the bottom of the container. Once the wick is fully dry, stick it to the bottom of the container on the glue dot. Use a skewer to hold the wick in place by setting it horizontally across the top of the container. You may have to use a clothes pin to attach the wick to the skewer although mine didn’t need it.
- Once the wax has cooled to 130 degrees stir in the oils.
- Carefully pour the wax into the container and let it fully set.
- Light and enjoy!
I hope you can smell the citrus and herbs from where you sit because it is pure spring! MEB