Guest Author - Angela Webster
The holidays are just around the corner and many of us are getting candles ready for holiday sales or gifts. It would be a shame if an accident happens that could ruin all of your hard work or worse, cause any sort of injury to anyone. So before we get too busy, lets take some time to remember important candle making safety.
Sometimes we get so used to doing certain things and are used to everything coming out okay. When doing a routine, we dont expect different outcomes or accidents to happen. They are called accidents because they are not expected to happen, so lets be prepared for the unexpected.
Aside from having proper equipment and supplies, you need specific safety equipment and procedures. Having proper equipment for making candles not only helps you to make a quality product but also makes your workspace safer.
Here is a list of SAFETY- SPECIFIC EQUIPMENT AND IDEAS that will help keep you, your family or your business safer:
ABC Fire Extinguisher know where it is and how to use it. An ABC class of fire extinguisher is good for grease fires and other types of fire, including combustibles and electrical fires. Never pour or spray water on a grease/oil fire. That will just make the fire shoot everywhere! If you have a different class of fire extinguisher, verify that it will work on grease or oil fires.
Large open box of baking soda Keep this handy to pour on and suffocate small grease fires.
Smoke or fire detector make sure your batteries are changed regularly.
Hot pads plenty of them and different kinds. Know how you will grip your pot or can of wax when it is hot and full. Silicone or rubber dotted gloves can work but they get wax build up sometimes. If you cant get your hand around the hot can, you could lose your grip or the can will slip. Using angled pliers is sometimes a better option, especially if you can lock the grip. I also use silicone rubber pads to get a good grip on smaller cans that do not have a handle.
Closed shoes with non-slip soles keeps you from slipping on waxy floors or hot wax dripping onto your feet.
Minimal flammable materials in the immediate candle making area. i.e., dont make your candles in the same room that you store your quilt making materials or something like that.
If you have long hair tie it back to keep it away from heat sources. This will also help to keep it out of your wax, just like keeping it out of food.
Work in a kid- and pet-free zone!
Thermometers! You need to keep a close eye on temperatures, not only for safety reasons, but to keep your projects and their results consistent.
Use specific warning labels for all types of candles that you sell.
Take time to read through or think through all of your projects before beginning. If you end up rushing around during your project, you could slip or bump something and cause injury. At the very least, you could end up with a failed project.
Candles take TIME and ATTENTION TO DETAIL. Dont believe you can just throw candles together without both of these.
Below is a list of BASIC TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT that I find necessary and helpful in making candles at home. I have a large basement that I do this in so there is a lot of room for storing the extras. You may only want to use the basics and a few other things if you work in a smaller area, such as a kitchen, as many candle makers do.
THE BARE NECESSITIES:
Molds and/or containers - purchase or recycle items from around the house like jars, glasses, cups, milk or juice cartons, flowerpots, etc.
Something to plug your molds. There are many options, such as; Wick Stickums, rubber plugs, plumbers putty, and others.
Silicone mold release spray
Scale to measure ounces/grams or pounds/kilograms
Double boiler system a pan or can that will fit into a larger pan that contains about 2 of water
Metal cans in varying sizes since you may need smaller amounts of different colors, especially when layering candles
Oven mitts, gloves with silicone dots for handling hot molds and pouring cans
Hot plates or electric stove a heat source without an open flame is best
Large box of baking soda and/or an ABC fire extinguisher.
Notebook for writing down exactly what you used and did for any project.
Old baking trays or pie pans in varying sizes for making chunks, catching drips or leaks, warming and leveling candle bottoms
Measuring spoons and cups
Craft sticks, chop sticks, wooden skewers
Rags for wiping out pouring pots while warm. I cut up old t-shirts and towels that I might otherwise throw away. Keep a few stacked near your trash can for quick wipeouts.
Paper plates, butcher paper or glossy white paper for testing drips of wax and color
Something to hold your wicks in place when making container candles such as; Wick Stickums, glue dots or hot glue with gun.
Scissors, or clippers, to cut wicks and other things
Hammer, large knife or Screwdriver to break slabs of wax. Some softer wax will need to be cut with a knife.
BASIC EXTRAS that you really should have OR ACCUMULATE SOON:
Heat gun or good blow dryer to warm molds or containers before you pour your wax
Wax melting/pouring pitchers
Level to make sure the surface you are pouring your candles on is level
Wick pins - small ones for votives and taller ones for pillar molds
Plastic scraper tool for scraping up dripped wax or wax off of tools
Small metal bowls shot glass size for measuring small amounts of fragrance
Small grater or shredder for grating your color blocks - makes it easier to measure accurately in spoons if youre not weighing your dyes
Room thermometer good to keep track of the room temperature for consistency in your projects
EXTRAS THAT YOU COULD DO WITHOUT but make things easier sometimes:
Warming trays, the kinds used for pot lucks or dinner parties - to warm molds or containers
Lazy Susan - to rotate molds, votives or containers, into a better pouring position when you are filling multiple
Large storage bins - nice for keeping your wax clean and dust free
Pliers - could be used for holding hot cans or candles by their wick or bending things when they need bending like sharp edges on a can you will use for melting wax.
Pipettes - nice for measuring fragrance oils
Rubber bands - Nice for holding pipettes (bulb side down) onto fragrance oil jars
Mod Podge - craft glue that is also non-flammable
Tall jars for holding skewers, chop sticks, etc., in a handy location
Plastic knife - for cutting chunks and not ruining your metal pans
Cool, dark and dry place to store your fragrances and additives
Timer - once you learn how long some cooling processes take, you might want to set a timer next time so you dont have to keep staring at your project
Create a candle Formula/Note sheet that you can use every time you begin a candle project. (This could replace your notebook but I use both
sloppy/fast in the notebook and neat on my formula sheet that I file away.)
Having all of the proper equipment and planning ahead will make getting ready for sales or any events a piece of cake! Its a good feeling to know you are prepared to do a good job and to know you can handle an emergency if one should arise.
I hope you find some of my suggestions helpful. If you dont have everything yet, maybe this list will give you an idea of what you need and what to gather as you can.
Please feel free to share any safety ideas you may have in my forum.
By the way - have you changed your smoke alarm battery lately?
Take care everyone!