Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Candle Burning Tips

There's nothing more cozy than a room accessorized with burning candles. To make the most of your ambiance and the life of your candles, Auntie B offers some friendly tips.

1. Most important to a quality burn is the practice of wick trimming. The wick should measure no more than 1/4 inch when you light it. Keep an eye on the flame while it's burning - if the flame becomes very long or if you see black smoke arising from the flame, blow out the candle, trim the wick to 1/4 inch, and light again. Be careful of the hot, melted wax when re-trimming.

2. Keep candles away from drafts. This will keep the flame centered and steady for an even burn.

3. Burn a candle for at least as many hours as the diameter of the candle. For example, if the candle is 3 inches in diameter, burn for at least 3 hours. This is especially important when burning a candle for the first time. This practice provides a good melt pool in the candle. A good melt pool provides maximum scent release and an even-burning candle.

4. Always put candles on/in appropriate holders. Votives should always be burned in cups. Pillars should be on a plate or holder at least 1/2 inch larger in diameter than the candle. Bobeches are handy with tapers. They are decorative glass discs that slip over the taper and rest on the candle holder, catching any drips that may occur.

5. Before burning a votive, cover the bottom of the cup with water. This small layer of water will keep the melted wax from sticking to the bottom of the cup.

6. When burning candles in a fireplace, it isn't necessary to open the flue. However, if your fireplace has glass doors, keep them open while burning the candles. Failure to do so will cause excessive heat and will melt the candles from the surfaces as well as from the centers. This could result in uneven burns and a big mess of melted wax on your holders and floor of the fireplace.

7. High-quality candles usually cost more. Avoid "cheap" candles as they could be made from a lower-grade wax which cause excessive smoking. You can usually count on getting what you pay for when it comes to candles.

8. Never, ever leave a candle unattended. Your attention to the burning candles will not only maximize your candlelit experience, but will also avoid most dangerous candle-related accidents.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Beautiful And Functional

Last night Husby and I were sitting at the kitchen table eating leftover pot roast, potatoes, and carrots covered in gravy. It was a typical dinnertime as we ate and shared the happenings of our days. Suddenly, the lights went out.

We’ve lived in our house for eight years and the lights have never gone out, thanks to buried lines. The weather was cold, but clear. There was no observable reason for the power to fail.

As we peeked out the windows we could see dark houses for blocks. The entire neighborhood was out. We looked at each other with a glimmer of excitement. Husby and I scurried about, gathering what we needed to find our way around the house and to keep warm in case the furnace would be out for a while. He went to the garage for a load of firewood and I went to the various closets to gather the half-burned test candles I had forgotten about until that moment.

There were three candles in the dinette area and three in the parlor. There was one in each of the bathrooms upstairs, and one in the powder room. One candle illuminated the bedroom, while another was situated at the landing of the stairs. Seven candles and a roaring fire in the fireplace cast a golden glow in the rumpus room where we sat and talked and laughed at our pioneer-like ways.

We felt sorry for our neighbors who sat in the dark, and sorrier for those who found their way around their houses using cold, blue, LED flashlights while we were made cozy by the light and warmth of many hand-poured candles.

The house began to smell of beeswax and various other scented candles like peppermint, holly berry, mulled cider, and pine. These wonderful fragrances mingled with the aroma of wood smoke from the fireplace.

How absolutely perfect for a candle maker to be caught without electricity. I burn candles frequently for ambiance, but on this night they became functional as well. We sat in the glow of flames, reading and writing in a silence broken only by the crackles coming from the fireplace. We didn’t mind being unable to do chores requiring electricity, nor did we miss the drone of re-runs coming from the TV.

When the power came on two hours later, I felt a surge of disappointment. Husby and I looked at each other and decided to keep reading and writing by the candlelight, foregoing all means of electrical illumination…except for the Christmas tree.

I highly recommend an evening sans electrical illumination. Even if your power isn’t out, turn all the lights off and place candles around the house. You’ll be surprised at how functional you can remain, yet how relaxed you can become. A extra bonus: everyone looks better by candle light.
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