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Candlemaking: A Beginner's Guide - DVD review

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Candlemaking: A Beginner's Guide - DVD review

Candlemaking: A Beginner's Guide

Sharyn Pak - On Air Video Inc.
I was very interested in receiving a review copy of a new DVD entitled “Candlemaking: A Beginner’s Guide” from On Air Video Inc.

While I've got a number of candle making videos here on the site (albeit much shorter than this 82-minute DVD), I’m always eager to see how someone else teaches candle making. Each candle maker has their own particular candle making style, tips and tricks, and their own particular types of candles that they like the best.

Introduction

The host, Ms. Sharyn Pak, shows use a diverse range of candles including: Ms. Pak starts with an informative introduction into the history and appeal of candles and different types of wax. She also gives a lengthy overview of the different types of wicks used in candle making.

After the introduction, Ms. Pak presents a really nice, thorough section on both candle making safety and candle burning safety.

Throughout the DVD, she inserts special tips and tricks to make your candle making easier and more efficient. Tips like priming a wick, keeping your candle craft area free of clutter, using a double boiler and centering and trimming your wicks are all very helpful tidbits of information.

Each of the projects is a self-contained section that can be viewed independently. The ingredient and tool lists for each of the projects are clear and complete, with well-photographed procedures and illustrations.

The Projects

Candle making with "Candlemaking: A Beginner's Guide" DVD

Sharyn Pak - On Air Video Inc.
For the granulated candle project, Ms. Pak uses brightly colored granulated paraffin wax to make a simple container candle and gives a few fun variations and special effects for making them even more festive.

The rolled beeswax candle section is clear and easy to follow. She shows us several variations on the simple rolled beeswax candle and introduces us to an interesting way to prime the wick on the beeswax candle. Instead of soaking the wick in melted beeswax, she takes a small piece of bees wax and wraps it around the tip of the wick.

The container candle project is pretty straightforward and easy to follow. She uses soy wax, and (other than some problems I discuss below,) it’s a great introductory explanation of container candle making.

In the molded candle section, I was surprised to see she used palm wax. While it’s a lovely wax, it’s a unique wax that I tend to think of as more suited for advanced candle making. She also states that palm wax is desirable because “…first, it’s renewable, which means we can grow more palms.” This opinion is quite different than some other candle makers and candle making suppliers who have actually discontinued the use of palm wax due to its harmful effect on the environment. (Read CandleSciences’ The Problem with Palm Wax)

Ms. Pak makes two molded candles in the molded candle section. She uses standard metal molds, and mentions wick pins, but doesn’t show one – and in one part refers to the popsicle stick as a alternative wick pin. (I think she must have meant “wick bar”.) She uses the traditional method of threading the wick up through the mold in one instance, and glues it to the bottom of the mold (using white craft glue) in the other.

One of the molded candles Ms. Pak makes is an interesting variation on the ice candle where she fills in the holes left by the ice with a secondary color of wax.

The final section of the DVD demonstrates dipped candles. Again, Ms. Pak shows us basic instructions and then a couple of interesting variations. I have great respect for anyone patient enough to make dipped candles…and Ms. Pak makes a number of great looking ones with clear instructions for measuring the wicks, how to dip them into the melt pot, and a great homemade cooling rack. I think this is the most successful and complete of the projects.

Some Thoughts

I think most any beginning candle maker could watch this DVD and learn how to make candles. The information is clearly presented and very easy to follow. However, I do have a bit of trouble with several things in the DVD. Some of them are just personal preferences – like my preference to use hot glue or wick stickers instead of white glue to hold wicks in containers…or the debate over whether or not palm is a good wax to use. But more than those style differences, I feel that Ms. Pak leaves out some important details that need to be included in a video dedicated to beginners.

First, she doesn’t consistently say what temperatures she is working at with the wax. At one point, in the container candle section, she actually says about the soy wax she is using, “…the melt and pour temperatures are so low, it doesn’t need a thermometer.” Now you all know that I’m a big stickler for melting, adding the fragrance, and pouring at just the right temperature - even to the point of adding the fragrance right at 180 degrees. I feel that the “right temperature” - whether a low temp for soy wax, or a high temp for palm wax - is important enough to always use a thermometer - and always know what temperature is best to melt to and to pour at.

Also in the container candle project, she instructs the viewer to use the extra/leftover pieces of wick from the granulated wax candle project. The problem here is two-fold: first, she doesn’t tell us what type of wick she is using for the granulated candle, and then implies that the wicks are interchangeable. One is made with granulated paraffin wax and one is made with soy wax - very different waxes. She quite correctly states earlier in the DVD that the wick is one of the most important parts of the candle – which I definitely agree with. But then she leaves the wick details out on these two candles, and implies they are interchangeable. Now, it’s possible that the same wick could work in both candle applications – but a beginner candle maker could be left with the impression that wicks are interchangeable in general, which is incorrect.

In a couple of the projects she does actually give the wick size she is using, but I wish she would have given some more information about how increasing the width of the candle or adding a different fragrance would affect the size of wick needed for a successful candle. All candles and candle types are different...and hence need different types and sizes of wicks.

The problem with leaving out details like these is that it can set the beginning candle maker up for failure. As I’ve said for years, it’s really easy to make average or mediocre candles. It’s a much more exacting task to make excellent candles. As Ms. Pak alludes to in the DVD, candles are created through a delicate balance of wax, wick, container/shape and fragrance/additives. But I don’t think this DVD presents that clearly enough. I think there is a lot of really great technique and information, but not the fundamental details that are important to have success from the start and form a lifelong love of candle making.

I think coupling this DVD with a solid basic candle making book like The Complete Candle Maker, or Candlemaker’s Companion would give the beginner everything they needed - detailed candle making information in the books, with the easy-to-follow, friendly video illustrations on the DVD.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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