Well, I couldn’t wait to burn one, so I lit two of them while we had lunch on New Year’s Day. They smelled heavenly, bay and honey … and like bees wax, they don’t drip they don’t smoke. Perfection!
If you’ve been around my blog and CHK for very long you know that I make a lot of candles. I use beeswax and dip my candles, several hundred at a time and usually outside over a fire. I have a cast iron pot reserved just for wax. My youngest daughter has always helped me make most of the candles we produce but this year once my oldest son found out I was making Bay Wax candles, he decided he wanted to learn how to do that. So we started work on them not really knowing what we were doing but having read quite a bit about bay wax.
Dipping candles outside over a fire
The Bay Wax I am using comes from a shrub/tree called Myrica pensylvanica and usually grows in zones 3-6 in the US. I am in zone 7b and while they do grow here as an ornamental, they don’t always do well in the heat of the summers. I purchased this bay wax from www.betterbee.com which is also where I buy my bees wax.
Myrica pensylvanica, the bay berry shrub
Here is how to extract Bay Wax from Bay Berries…….
Because the shrubs don’t grow plentifully here, I couldn’t go pick the berries and extract the wax. I bought the wax at www.betterbee.com. Its pretty expensive and that’s why bay berry candles are costly. Approximately 25 pounds of berries will yield only about 6 ounces of wax. If you have access to the berries, here’s how to extract the wax:
Pick out all the twigs and leaves from the berries. Put the berries in a big heavy pot in batches, you don’t want to overcrowd the pot. Cover with water by about 2 inches. Simmer the berries in the water for about 20-30 minutes.
Line a large bowl with several layers of cheesecloth. Pour the water from the simmered berries and the berries onto the cheesecloth. Lift out the cheesecloth full of berries and plant matter and let it drain. You can boil the berries again to extract more wax.
Once you have your water with the berries drained out of it, let it sit and cool. The wax will rise to the top and harden. Allowing it to sit over night is a good idea, you can even let it sit outside overnight. After the wax hardens its easy to pick it off the top of the water.
To use Bay Wax with Bees Wax, which is what I am doing, use equal amounts of bay and beeswax. You can use up to 1.5 times as much beeswax as Bay wax and still get a good fragrance and color.
Bay Wax candles are greenish in color and have a subtle evergreen scent that most people find agreeable. Mixed with the honey scent of Beeswax, the candles make wonderfully fragrant gifts.
I use an old olive oil can to melt wax in when I make candles indoors. I have equal amounts of Bay Wax and Bees Wax melting here.
Olive oil can for melting wax and dipping candles
You can see the slight difference in color between the filtered Beeswax and the Bay Wax in this next photo. The bay wax is pale with a whitish dusty coat. The bees wax is yellowish.
Beeswax (largest piece) and Bay Wax (two smaller pieces)
This is the first time I’ve ever worked with bay wax and it was a great learning experience. I think the next time I make bay wax candles I will use a mold. The candles that I dipped wanted to twist and contract a little and they were difficult to roll and smooth out. Bay wax seems brittle so we had to be careful as we dipped and straightened them with our fingers.
This is in contrast to how easy beeswax is to work with. Bees wax is bendable even when barely warm and it is easy to make the candles straight after you’ve dipped them simply by gently rolling them on paper.
The fragrance of Bay Wax is wonderful and mixed with the beeswax it is just perfect. The candles are a soft green color. I haven’t lit one yet because they need to sit and mature a while so that they will burn longer. Once I burn one I’ll come back and tell you about it.