Monday, December 07, 2009

Waxing Snowflakes

I seem to be half a step behind in everything this holiday season. It's like I decide to start one of my regular projects and, while I'm casually getting underway, realize how little time I have to finish and have to hit it hard and heavy. It's been that way at work and at home.

Starting Friday evening and all through the weekend the kitchen was overrun with wax. I find candlemaking during the holidays relaxing but this round was barely so and it wasn't just trying to get enough done for gifts.

At the last garage sale where I bought candlemaking supplies I came into some snowflake oil. Snowflake oil gives a mottled or snowflake appearance to candles. I used it for my first two batches and they turned out nicely. Just as a matter of procedure, I washed all of my equipment. The stainless steel items, plastic votive molds and wooden spoons went into the dishwasher (after removing as much wax as possible) and all of the aluminum molds and the pouring pitcher got washed by hand in very hot water and dish soap.

For my next two batches I used pillar molds I hadn't previously used this season and just a couple of the votive cups. As the candles and reserve wax cooled I was surprised to see the wax snowflaking. Remember that I had just washed everything very well and I hadn't added snowflake oil to these batches. Neither the stainless steel double-boiler and pitcher nor the aluminum boiler and pitcher would have absorbed any of the oil from the last batch and the molds hadn't been used yet. The only thing I could figure is that some of the oil had soaked into the wooden spoons and had "contaminated" the batches.

The next batch I washed everything again and used two brand new wooden spoons. Guess what. Snowflakes. I still have no idea why. It couldn't be the metal and I had 'virgin' spoons. If it was the plastic molds, how did the reserve wax in the boiler get contaminated?

I'm not displeased with the results. The candles look fine but I wasn't planning to have every candle with the mottled look. And I'll be damned if I can figure out how it happened.

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