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Candle-making Part 3: How to make candles

At Mill Cottage, the home of Craftsteading, we strive to provide products and services that are ethical, organic, cruelty-free and sustainable. This is why we offer SOY WAX and COCONUT WAX as bases for candle-making. They’re available at our online store.

How to Make Scented Coconut-Soy Candles

candle making

Note: Items in CAPITAL LETTERS, are available in the Craftsteading Online Store.

Imagine your home in the evening, softly lit with the gentle, flickering light of candles you’ve made yourself. Imagine the air delicately scented with your choice of fragrant oils.

You can make your own perfumed candles with SOY WAX and COCONUT WAX for your home, or as housewarming gifts for friends. Leave them plain, or add a few drops of ESSENTIAL OILS to blend a perfume of your own design.

The Craftsteading Store stocks CANDLE WICKS, FOOD COLORINGS FOR CANDLE DYES, and other candle-making supplies.

Candle containers

It’s best, if you can, to make your candles in recycled glass jars, washed clean, with lids. Many people keep empty jam, marmalade or jelly jars instead of throwing them out. If you don’t hoard them yourself, perhaps you have family, friends or neighbors who do, and who are glad to give them away to be re-used. Or re-use any small ceramic bowls or cups you might have.

About candle-molds
Some people like to use silicon candle-molds to make free-standing candles in various shapes. We don’t sell these because we try to avoid plastics whenever possible. You can make your own candle-molds by recycling materials found at home. Any paper carton can be re-purposed into a candle-mold, or use discarded metal cans, or re-useable glass containers.

If you cannot get hold of any clean, used jars with lids, we stock pretty, aluminum or glass CANDLE CONTAINERS at the Craftsteading Store.

Our choice of materials
Glass containers are considered more environmentally friendly than aluminum cans or jars, due to their lower greenhouse gas emissions during their lifecycle. However, glass is heavier than aluminum and thus it costs more to ship. So the impact of new glass or new aluminum containers on the environment could be considered approximately equal.

“If you can find aluminum cans made from 100% recycled materials, they should be your top choice when shopping for single-serving beverages,” according to an Earth911 article. “Their low transportation footprint and ease of recyclability make them a winner.” 

But perhaps the best solution overall, if you are conscious of environmental sustainability, is to ditch the single-serve packaging altogether. Filling a reusable glass container generates zero waste.


  • COCONUT WAX – 1 part (You can experiment with adding up to 2 parts, because coconut wax increases the shelf life of soy wax candles, as well as softening the wax to make it stickier, which is useful in cool climates.)
  • SOY WAX FLAKES – 10 parts
  • CANDLE CONTAINERS (glass or aluminum)
  • CANDLE-WAX MELTING POT (for mixing and melting wax)
  • FOOD COLORINGS (we consider they’re safer than other candle dyes)
  • ESSENTIAL OILS (60-80 ml candle fragrance per kilogram, or 2 to 3 oz per 2.2 pounds).

Step 1: Glue Wicks into Jars

Secure WICKS to the bottom center of your clean GLASS JARS (or other candle containers) with a CANDLE WICK STICKER or a dob of hot glue.

If your wicks are long, wrap the excess around a skewer or pencil laid across the top of the jar, to keep them taut while pouring the wax. Or use a CENTERING WICK HOLDER.

Step 2: Measure Soy Wax and Coconut Oil

Using a MEASURING SPOON, measure a ratio of 10 parts soy wax flakes and 1 part coconut wax into a CANDLE-WAX MELTING POT or double boiler, or heatproof glass jar siting in a pot of water on low heat. Four cups of melted wax should yield approximately two small candles.

Step 3: Melt and Mix Wax

With your LONG-HANDLED MIXING SPOON, stir mixture continuously over medium heat until wax flakes are completely liquefied. Use your KITCHEN THERMOMETER to make sure the mixture does not get hotter than about 175 F ( 80 C)

Step 4: Allow to cool slightly

Remove melted wax from heat and let the mixture stand until your KITCHEN THERMOMETER tells you it’s reached about 145 F (63 C). If you choose to add scent or color, now is the time to stir in a few drops of ESSENTIAL OILS (60-80 ml candle fragrance per kilogram, or 2 to 3 oz per 2.2 pounds) and/or candle dye FOOD COLORINGS. You can use as many drops as you like to get your desired strength of perfume and color. The cooler temperature will help protect the essential oils.

Step 5: Pour Wax

Carefully and slowly pour the liquid wax into your recycled glass jars or CANDLE CONTAINERS, leaving 12 mm (1/2-inch) of space at the top of the jar.

Step 6: Allow to stand overnight

Let your candles cool overnight before trimming the wicks down to about half a centimeter (roughly 1/4 inch). Your candles are now ready to use. If you need to store them, be sure to cover them with a lid and keep them in a cool place.

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Candle-making Part 2: History of candle-making

Older ingredients

The history of candle-making goes back thousands of years.

History of candle-making
Hand-made candles

Our forefathers (yours and mine) used any sort of fat or wax they could get their hands on to make candles. This was usually tallow or other animal fats, or beeswax.

By 1800, people discovered that colza oil, derived from the mustard plant (Brassica campestris), and a similar oil derived from rapeseed, (Brassica napus var. napus), yielded candles that produced clear, smokeless flames.

More recently in the history of candle-making, people used paraffin wax for candles. This is a soft colorless solid derived from petroleum, coal or oil shale. By the end of the 19th century, most candle-manufacturers used paraffin mixed with stearic acid to add hardness.

Newer ingredients

During the 1990s, scientists developed new types of candle waxes, partly due to rising costs. Manufacturers replaced paraffin with new waxes and wax blends. Candle-makers used ingredients such as soy wax, coconut wax and palm oil. They often blended them with paraffin in hopes of getting the performance of paraffin with the price benefits of the other waxes. Palm oil, however, wreaks havoc on the environment and the habitat of endangered wildlife species.

Coconut wax, obtained by a simple extraction process, burns slowly and it is good at giving off scent. It’s probably the most sustainable and ethical of all commonly available candle waxes. but it’s quite soft. Blending it with soy wax helps make it firmer. It is not easy to source soy wax that is verifiably 100% non-GMO and sustainably farmed, and we cannot guarantee that this is the case, but we have done the best we can.

At Mill Cottage, the home of Craftsteading, we strive to provide products and services that are ethical, organic, cruelty-free and sustainable. This is why we offer SOY WAX and COCONUT WAX as bases for candle-making. They’re available at our online store.

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Candle-making Part 1: Ingredients

soy wax flakes as Candle-making ingredients
Soy wax flakes

Candle-making ingredients

At Mill Cottage, the home of Craftsteading, we strive to provide products and services that are ethical, organic, cruelty-free and sustainable. This is why we offer SOY WAX and COCONUT WAX as candle-making ingredients.

They’re available at our online store.

Coconut wax, obtained by a simple extraction process, burns slowly and it is good at giving off scent. It’s probably the most sustainable and ethical of all commonly available candle waxes. but it’s quite soft. Blending it with soy wax helps make it firmer.

It is not easy to source soy wax that is verifiably 100% non-GMO and sustainably farmed, and we cannot guarantee that this is the case, but we have done the best we can.

What’s the problem with palm wax and palm oil?

Avoid palm oil unless you’re sure it comes from a sustainable source! Palm oil comes from the fruit of oil palm trees, whose botanical name is Elaeis guineensis.
Palm oil has been and continues to be a major driver of deforestation of some of the world’s most biodiverse forests, destroying the habitat of already endangered species like the Orangutan, pygmy elephant and Sumatran rhino. This forest loss coupled with conversion of carbon rich peat soils are throwing out millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and contributing to climate change. There also remains some exploitation of workers and child labour. These are serious issues that the whole palm oil sector needs to step up to address.

What’s the problem with beeswax?

Beeswax is natural and sustainable. Many people, however, say that beeswax is not ethical, because bees are exploited so that we can get it, and that is a viewpoint we respect.

We prefer to help honey-bees by growing bee-friendly plants in our garden and not using any pesticides.

Popular plant waxes as candle-making ingredients

Candelilla wax

Candelilla wax comes from small shrubs native to Northern Mexico and the Southwestern regions of the United States; botanical names Euphorbia cerifera and Euphorbia antisyphilitica.  

Referred to as the candelilla shrub, the name means “little candle”, as candles were the first products made from the plants.

Wax is obtained by boiling the plant, which separates the natural wax for processing.

Myrica fruit wax 

Myrica fruit wax is derived from Myrica cerifera, the Wax Myrtle. It’s a hardy, deciduous (occasionally evergreen) tree, native of eastern North America and growing to about 40 feet. Also known as Candleberry, candle bush or Bayberry, it’s a fast-growing shrub found on most continents. The tiny fruits have a natural powdery wax coating which is extracting through boiling, separating and extraction. The wax yield is one of the highest of any plants, making bayberry a popular source for candle making. 

Wax-bearing plants

This list of other plants that provide waxes suitable for candles is from Plants for a Future. You might be surprised to learn that sugarcane is among them!

Asclepias incarnataSwamp Milkweed, Swamp Butterfly Weed, Marsh Milkweed
Ceroxylon alpinumWax Palm
Copernicia albaCaranday Palm, Caranda Palm, Caranda Palm Wax
Copernicia pruniferaBrazilian Wax Palm, Carnauba Palm, Carnauba Wax
Euphorbia antisyphiliticaCandelilla
Fraxinus bungeanaXiao Ye Qin
Irvingia gabonensisDika Nut
Jatropha curcasPhysic Nut, Barbados Nut
Juniperus osteospermaDesert Juniper, Utah juniper
Juniperus scopulorumRocky Mountain Juniper, Weeping Rocky Mountain Juniper, Colorado Red Cedar
Ligustrum japonicumJapanese Privet, Japanese Ligustrum, Waxleaf Ligustrum, Texas Privet, Waxleaf Privet
Ligustrum lucidumChinese Privet, Glossy privet, White Wax Tree, Tree Ligustrum
Ligustrum obtusifoliumBorder privet
Myrica californicaCalifornian Bayberry, California Wax Myrtle, California Barberry
Myrica ceriferaWax Myrtle – Bayberry Wild Cinnamon, Southern Bayberry, Wax Myrtle, Southern Wax Myrtle
Myrica galeBog Myrtle, Sweetgale
Myrica heterophyllaBayberry
Myrica nagiBox Myrtle
Myrica pensylvanicaNorthern Bayberry
Rhus chinensisChinese Gall, Chinese sumac
Rhus succedaneaWax Tree
Rhus sylvestrisWoodland Rhus
Rhus trichocarpaHairy-seeded Rhus
Rhus wallichiiWallichii’s Rhus
Saccharum officinarumSugarcane, Purple Sugar Cane
Santalum acuminatumQuandong
Sapium sebiferumVegetable Tallow, Chinese tallow, Popcorn Tree, Chinese Tallow Tree
Stipa tenacissimaEsparto Grass, Esparto
Wax-bearing plants


[Source: PFAF] Wicks for candles and lamps can be made from the following plants, both natives of Britain:

  • Eriophorum angustifolium – Cotton Grass: A hardy perennial growing about two feet tall in peat bogs, acid meadows and marshes.
  • Verbascum thapsus – Aaron’s Rod: A hardy biennial growing in sunny positions in cultivated fields and waste ground. It is also often grown in the flower garden.
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Videos for Craftsteaders #2 Eugenio Monesma


The YouTube channel of Eugenio Monesma documents lost rural trades. Craftsteaders will find it fascinating!

YouTube channel of Eugenio Monesma

Channel intro:

“I am Eugenio Monesma, producer and director of ethnographic documentaries. After more than 40 years of producing documentary television series on lost trades, our festivals, traditions, legends, traditional gastronomy, customs and rituals, I have come to constitute one of the most important archives in Spain with more than three thousand ethnographic documentaries.

“Currently, social networks allow access to all kinds of information. That is why I have made the decision to gradually upload to my YouTube channel “Eugenio Monesma – Documentaries” all the documentaries made since the beginning of the nineties, so that they can be enjoyed by all those interested. for our traditions and customs.

“You can follow me on my Facebook page (@EugenioMonesma), TikTok (@eugenio_documentales) and Instagram (@EugenioMonesma) to find out about the next premieres of the channel, news and more information about the documentaries.”

Location: SPAIN

Here’s a sample of one of his interesting videos. It’s about making pitchforks.

Hand-made pitchforks

Watch Eugenio’s video abut how to make ropes with vegetable fibers.

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Videos for Craftsteaders #1 Sally Pointer

There are many enthralling videos on YouTube that fit pretty closely with the Craftsteading ethos, such as Sally Pointer on YouTube. Stumbling across new channels has been a delight. Over the next few posts I’m going to mention some of them.

Sally Pointer on YouTube

Sally Pointer on YouTube brings you objects, skills, and inspiration from the past, to enrich the future. Find her website at
Sally is a heritage educator, researcher, maker and demonstrator of traditional skills based in the UK, and works with museums and heritage organisations worldwide to promote an understanding of the past through hands on experience.
She posts about ancient technology, craft skills, foraging, food, costuming and some of the adventures she goes on.


Here’s her video about stinging nettles.

Sally Pointer – nettle fiber

And here’s Sally Pointer’s video about harvesting lime bast for cordage and basketry.

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The World of Artisan Broom-making

If you’re like me, then for most of your life you’ve probably not thought much about broom-making or brooms. Yes they’re useful household tools, but I’m not a huge fan of housework, so brooms got “swept” to the back of my mind.


That is, until I joined Instagram a few years back and started to see some photos that really intrigued me. People were posting pictures of the most beautiful, colorful brooms and hand-whisks I’d ever seen. They’d crafted them by hand, using traditional skills and techniques. Instantly, I became obsessed with these artisan brooms.

Not only are they gorgeous-looking enough to display as artworks on your wall at home, but they’re also useful in keeping things clean. They come in a myriad shapes and sizes and materials and they also have stories and folklore and magic attached to them. What’s not to like?

People have really started to notice hand-made brooms. The Strategist published an article on them – you can read it here.

Deborah Needleman wrote, “Nearly all brooms today are unremarkable objects mass-produced in Mexico, [besides] a small number of people in North America devoted to handcrafting them. The makers run the gamut from Americana buffs to hippie holdouts, and the brooms are mostly minimalist Shaker or backwoods Appalachian in style.”

We plan on posting a broom-making tutorial here in the near future, so keep an eye on this blog. Meanwhile, marvel at the designs and materials and many uses of hand-made brooms and whisks in our shop category BROOMS & BROOM MAKING.

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Traditional bamboo weaving

Bamboo weaving is an art. Most people agree that bamboo is one of the world’s most useful plants, because you can build with it, weave with it, make paper, furniture, musical instruments, baskets, tableware, scaffolding, clothes and accessories with it, burn it as fuel and even eat it.

bamboo weaving
Bamboo forest

To weave bamboo, you first have to split it into thin strips. Watch a video (scroll down) called “Bamboo splitting and making strips for weaving” by a YouTube channel called JUNKAN WORKS.

Bamboo makes beautiful strong baskets and woven furniture but it needs a lot more pre-weaving preparation than willow. After you harvest and cure the bamboo poles, you have to slice up the inflexible stems into ever thinner strips that are bendy enough to be woven. In countries where bamboo is native, especially in Asia, craftspeople have perfected tools and techniques to make this process easier and quicker.

Splitting bamboo for weaving

Watch a skilled weaver make a bamboo tray. These trays are useful for draining, drying, storage and carrying.

Traditional bamboo weaving

If you live in the right climate and have a garden, you can grow your own bamboo.

About bamboo

Bamboo comes from all over the world except Europe. It’s native to South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. And yes, North America also has three native species of bamboos! Australia has 3 or possibly 4 native bamboos, though they only like living in the hot climates up north.

Bamboos are fast-growing members of the Grass family. Their species are native to a wide range of climates from hot tropical through to warm temperate and even cool climates. The plants love water and sunshine. They will grow in most soil types, from heavy clay-based soil to sand. It is important to ‘feed’ the bamboo on-top of the soil with a good thick mulch layer and regular fertilizing. Most bamboos prefer well-drained soil, which means they don’t like growing in swampy areas.

Be careful to choose clumping varieties rather than the rather invasive running varieties. One of the most useful bamboos for weaving is called Gracilis, or Slender Weaver (Bambusa textilis var gracilis). It’s also useful as a screening plant as it grows quickly along narrow spaces to make a living fence, giving you privacy from your neighbors.

At the Craftsteading Store, from time to time we stock handmade woven bamboo items such as trays and sieves and sushi boats. If you don’t see them in stock check back late or write to us.

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About crumb-brushes

Palm fiber crumb-brush "Turkey wing"
Shuro fiber crumb-brush

What is a crumb-brush? It’s a mini broom or whisk, designed to gently sweep tiny crumbs and dust off delicate objects. Crumb-brushes are traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies. These tea brushes are usually made of shuro, otherwise known as palm fiber, from sustainably grown Chinese Windmill Palm trees. Use them to to easily clean up your table, tablecloth, and countertops. 

History of the crumb-brush

Crumb-brushes were originally known (in English) as crumbers.

Throughout restaurant history, table crumbers — the tools used to sweep stray crumbs and bits of food off of tabletops — have taken many forms. For example, they could be a small brush and pan, a tiny brush on its own (which sweeps crumbs into a waiter’s hand), or a flat metal scraper or blade, with or without a handle. []

“A crumber (also called a table crumber) is a tool designed to remove crumbs from a tablecloth, used especially in fine dining situations. The modern form of the crumber was invented in 1939 by John Henry Miller, owner of a restaurant on West Fayette Street in Baltimore. The crumber was intended to be carried “conveniently in the pocket”, and less conspicuous than the brush and pan customarily used to remove crumbs after the meal. Miller obtained a patent for his invention in 1941, and another patent for improvements in 1946. Ultimately he sold his patents to the Ray Machine company of Baltimore, which still manufactures and sells the tool. As of 2010, Ray Machine was selling about 85,000 crumbers per year.” [Wikipedia] 

The crumb-brush in Japan

Tawashi are traditional brushes made from the fibers of the windmill palm. For centuries such brushes have been used in Japan for cleaning pots and dishes.

“The soft, natural fibers of the windmill palm ensure that brushes have the perfect combination of pliancy and firmness for removing grease and food particles, even from your best glasses and dishware, without scratching. They’re also ideal for cleaning fruits and vegetables. They gently lift away dirt without damaging the skin, so you never have to sacrifice nutrition or flavor in the name of cleanliness.” [Takada Tawashi]

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Welcome to the world of Craftsteading.

Use plants to make (almost) anything.

Sally Gardens @ Craftsteading
Sally Gardens

What is craftsteading?

Craftsteading is about self-sufficiency, making things with your hands, lost trades and bush-craft. It’s about prepping for hard times or relaxing with mindful handcrafts.

You can learn how to make useful and beautiful things to share with your friends and family, using home-grown plants from your garden, or raw materials foraged from the wild. And if you’re not into gardening or foraging – that’s fine! You’re in the perfect place to shop for supplies, right here.

The Craftsteading Supplies and Goods Store

We have always loved growing, gathering or buying plants and using them to make things. Until recently, we’ve been sharing our passion via our podcast and Instagram. Craftsteaders sometimes ask how they can get hold of raw craftsteading materials or even finished items, so that prompted us to to set up an online store.

Check back now and then to see what’s new. We’re adding more beautiful, useful items all the time. Or find us on Instagram.

Welcome, and happy browsing!

~ Andy & Sally Gardens