Friday, August 20, 2010

Grunging candles

I just wanted to share with you my grunging process.  I started out with a white pillar candle I got at a garage sale for 50 cents.  I put it in my makeshift double boiler that is a gallon food tin and a stock pot I bought at a garage sale to use this way and also for when I tea dye.

Then I took all the little tea lights out of their metal casings and took out the wicks.  I bought a bunch of boxes at Dollar Tree in the half price bin.  I didn't care too much about the scent because the cinnamon and spices are so strong, it covers it anyway.

I also had a bright red half pillar candle that the wick was messed up on, so I put that in the pot too.  As it melted down, I pulled the wick right out of it.  In my experience, the color of the candle doesn't matter so much because the wax is a transparent color when you melt it down, it is not opaque like the candle.  I don't use paraffin wax or store bought candle making wax.  I am always on the lookout for cheap, broken, clearance candles.  After the holiday sales are the best time to get candles when color and size doesn't matter.  I put them all in a box to store them, then pull them out to grunge or melt when I have a good supply.  Next time I grunge, I'm going to add vanilla to the pot, I forgot to do that this time.

I bought 6 boxes of these 6-count of 5" emergency candles at the Dollar Tree.  They are the perfect size for most candle holders.  I cut the wicks off because I don't want sparks from the spices.  I know some people don't do this but I just want to be careful.  So mine are just for looks instead of burning.  It's easier to cut the wick after they've been dipped a few times.

Then the real fun (and mess) begins!

I mix cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl.  I immerse the candle in the wax for about 10 seconds then pull it out with metal tongs.  Then I roll the candle in the bowl.  I'm always stocking up on those latex household gloves when Walgreen's has a coupon 3/1.00 or 2/1.00.  I use those and throw them away when I'm done.  The tongs leave marks in the candle, but after I roll the candle in the mixture, I rub it between my gloved hands lightly so it pushes the cinnamon onto the candle and evens out the tong marks.  I do 3-4 at a time, let them cool after each dip then repeat this over and over again until I get the thickness I want and the candle is completely covered.  Some people end with a dip in the wax.  I end with a dip in the mixture because I think it's more grungy that way.  But the best thing about that is you can see it both ways and decide which way you like better.

The bigger (pillar) candles I actually had to use my gloved hand to roll it around in the hot wax.  It was warm and the glove was covered in wax but it wasn't hot enough to burn me.  I just use my scraper on the glove and scrape it back into the hot wax.  Same thing with the wax build up on the metal tongs.

The hardest for me was the battery operated tea lights because I had never grungied those before.  I finally learned that I just had to cake it on with the spreader.  A little wasn't cutting it and it can't be thrown in the pot.  I'm glad I saved these for last because what I finally did was let the wax cool slightly and then spread it on like icing.  After a roll in the mixture, they turned out pretty good I thought.

Quite messy, yes indeed!  Rich asked me if I realized what a mess I was making.  Hehe!  I wish I had an after clean-up picture.  I had to scrape a little wax off the counter top and the stove top but it all worked out great.  I was afraid I was going to scratch the ceramic stove top, but I didn't.  Can't even tell that big mess was once there!

I'll have to post some pictures of what I did with some of my grungy goodies.  I hope you give it a shot sometime, it was so much fun to see the progress!  And just like anything else that you create, the finished product makes you smile and realize it was all worth it!

Edit 02/11:  I just wanted to add that I put my burner on med-high to melt the wax.  When it melts down, I put the burner on as low as it will possibly go for two reasons.  This keeps the spices from melting off.  The candle also dries quicker which keeps it from having too many drips hanging off of it.  It is then not too hot for me to rub in the drips.

Also, if you'll read through the comments, you will get lots more great suggestions!  Lots of women use crock pots for their waxing because it's less of a mess they say.  I say, whatever works best for you and the easiest is the way to go.

Don't be afraid to jump in and give it a try.  I was... I waited a few years before I finally just did it then I was mad at myself for waiting SO long!  Just like any other craft... you learn as you go.  Wax is so forgiving... if you mess up, just stick it in the melted wax again and give it another shot.

Please email me if you have any questions!  I'm happy to help out in any way that I can.


  1. It sure looks like a messy job,
    but I bet your house smells good!
    I have a lot of candles that I
    have gotten at sales, I think
    I will give it a try! Thanks...
    Check out my hutch I did a
    make over on it.

    Bear Hugs~Karen

  2. think I'm gonna do some candles soon....haven't made any in awhile. Great tut Angie!!

  3. Hey Angie...thanks so much for sharing! I need to do some of these.


  4. Angie, I love your creations.I love how they came out. You are very talented and thank you for sharing.


  5. Angie,

    I appreciate you sharing all this -so,so much! It will be such a fun lil project and probably smells divine. Yup, sure does look like a messy job and I appreciate that you took your photos AS IS. When everything looks so spic and span, and I am making a giant mess, I always wonder what I'm doing wrong! :)

  6. I haven't done this in awhile. I liked your idea about buying candles and tea lights...I just never think of those things! I went out and bought wax, silly me!!

    You've inspired me to do this again - it's fun even though it's messy!

  7. I have always wanted to try this. Thanks so much for sharing your tips!
    I will have to give it a try sometime when my kitchen is already messy~ Ha!

    Have a great wkend!

  8. Hi Angie, I just found and joined your blog tonight and I have enjoyed reading some of your older post. I know exactly how you feel when I dip candles I always have a mess too. You did a great job on everything. I have a new blog come by for a visit when you have a chance. Have a great weekend.


  9. I haven't done this - yet. I have been gathering the materials for a while and I have read the instructions but seeing the pictures really helped me. I am lucky that I have the summer kitchen so I don't have to use my kitchen. I have this idea. My SIL got a bunch of Starbucks coffee beans that are out of date. I'm going to throw them into my grinder and just pulse so it's kind of coarse. I'm going to roll some of them in it first so they'll be really lumpy/bumpy. Then use the cinnamon/cloves/nutmeg mix. Or I have been drying orange and lemon zest for a different scent. It might not turn out the way I hope. I'm sure it will be interesting. The biggest problem is the heat. I can't do anything until the weather cools off. You have definitely inspired me. I believe I can do it.
    I got some of those battery candles, too. Good to know how to handle that. I did see a tutorial that showed how to use a paddle bit on your drill to drill out the top of a pillar candle to drop one of those battery candles into. Then you could definitely use the icing method. I think this is going to be fun! Thanks for reminding me how much I want to do this! :> ★Linda★

  10. Thanks for sharing. I have been gathering the materials to do this and just haven't started yet. You've inspired me to get busy.

  11. and I are so alike it's scarry!!!!! I just did the same thing last weekend!!!! Very cool!!!!

    Big Nik Hugs!!!!!

  12. Thanks so much for sharing this Angie! I thought that might be the way to do it, haven't tried it yet but I will for sure now.. xoxo!

  13. Love your candles!!! You are so talented!!!

  14. Angie, you did a good job showing the good and the bad (messy) part of this job. I wanna try this! Thank you for sharing.

  15. It is a messy job, isn't it? That's exactly how I do mine except I skip the gloves. that's a smart idea though!
    I'm looking forward to your completed pictures.
    Blessings~ Birgit

  16. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving such nice comments. Your 'grunging' tutorial is great! I will have to give it a try. Have a wonderful day - Suzanne.

  17. I would love to be brave enough to try this. My favorite candles are no longer made "Old Virginia Candle Co", so I haven't really thought about candles in a while. TY for the instructions!
    TY also for visiting Lillie Mae Acres lately and all the sweet comments. Have a blessed evening.

  18. Thanks so much for this, I really appreciate all of the tips and the pictures really help. One thing though when you dip the candle into the wax is that just to soften it so the spices will stick? thanks again.

  19. Sharon, the answer is yes. The wax is warm, (not hot) so it doesn't melt the candle when you dip it. It only needs to be in there about 5 seconds. Also, you can end your candle in the spice mixture so it has a more grungy look or you can end your candle in the wax for a waxed (for lack of better word, ha) look.

    Hope this helps, just holler if you have more questions. Thanks for stopping by!

  20. Thank you for all that info and ideas..I have dipped candles but never thought about melting candles..I was using parrifin and it is expensive so I will try your idea the next time...I never thought about cutting the wicks off either..another good idea.
    Thanks again..I love getting good ideas (and my DH thinks I make a big mess when doing some of my crafts also :)

  21. Angie, I am so going to try this and when I am done I will post it on my blog and tell them I got this idea from you' wish me luck!

  22. Great tips Angie, I would never have used a coloured candle because I would have thought the whole batch of wax would turn that colour, who knew?! Love your after picture, don't you love prim? :O) Thanks for sharing, Deb

  23. Thanks for sharing I am going to do some candles and now I am sure it will be a lot easier.

  24. I have never tried grudging anything.Thanks so much Angie there is no stopping you in any craft!!

  25. Hi!--I loved your tutorial on grunging candles, esp. the pics!! I've done the candles before very nearly like you do, but hadn't thought of adding in the vanilla--love that idea! One thing I do slightly differently is instead of tongs, I use hemostats on the wicks--that way I don't get the marks on the candle itself. I think you can find hemostats in the fishing dept. at WalMart (they use them to pull hooks out of fish).----Love your blog! Thanks, Diane Dodd

  26. Just an FYI, PLEASE when melting wax use a double boiler set up! That wax can ignite before you know it. If it does it is hard to extinguish with anything other than a fire extinguisher, and that makes a HUGE mess.


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