This semester I’m taking a class about booze and had to do a beer-tasting. It was awful. I am not a beer drinker, if you couldn’t tell by all the chick drinks I post. But I got through it. Somehow. And I wanted to do a St. Patty’s-related craft with the leftover bottles. This tutorial will show you how to turn your leftover beer bottles and candle stumps into fun and functional bottle-shaped candles.
Wax (Lots of it! I filled six 12 oz beer bottles. It took 50 tealights and the equivalent of about 4-5 large pillar candles. You can also buy bags of wax flakes online. If you want to get really fancy, you can buy a whole scented candle kit!)
Crayons (optional, for coloring the wax)
Parchment paper (optional, for easier cleanup)
Paperclips (or other item to weight the wick)
Wooden skewers or popsicle sticks
Large dishtowel or two
Glass beer bottles
Safety goggles (optional, for safety)
Lightweight gloves (optional, for safety)
First, you’ll need to melt your wax.
If you are using wax flakes or any other kind of plain wax then you can do this in the microwave. I was able to do this with some wax from tealight candles because I could easily remove the wick and metal container first. Do not use the microwave to melt wax that includes wick or any metal components. You may encounter a surprise fire. Nobody likes a surprise fire.
If you will be recycling stumpy or otherwise yucky candles, use the stovetop. If the candles already come in glass jars, then just place them in the bottom of a large pot. If they are not in jars, put them in some type of heat-proof container and then put them in the pot. Fill the pot with hot water just high enough to avoid getting water in the jars. I added crayons (with the paper peeled off) to the wax as it was melting in order to color it. Heat on the stovetop over medium heat until the wax melts, stirring the wax and moving the jars around occasionally. Use tongs to pick out any wick, metal or burnt bits.
To prepare the wicks, cut a length of string for each beer bottle several inches longer than the height of the beer bottle. Tie a paperclip or other weight onto one end of the string. Once the wax begins to melt, dip the string into the wax to coat. Set onto parchment paper to dry.
You can always buy pre-made wicks but it’s kind of unnecessary. Plus Chai likes when we make our own wicks.
Wrap the loose end of the wick around the center of a wooden skewer or popsicle stick. Place the other end, with the paperclip or weight, into the bottle. Set the skewer across the opening of the bottle.
It can be helpful to cover your work surface with parchment paper to make clean up easier. If you get wax everywhere, just let it set up a bit and scrape it off. You can melt down that wax again and use it.
Slide the skewer and wick out of the way to make room for the funnel. Carefully pour the melted wax through the funnel into the bottle. I held the glass jar of wax with a folded over dishtowel to protect my hands from the heat while still keeping a good grip on it.
Remove the funnel from the bottle and set the skewer across the opening, returning the wick to the center of the bottle.
Allow the wax to cool and settle inside the bottle for an hour or so. Fill any open space with wax. Failing to fill a second time can lead to the problem pictured below. The wax has not made it all the way to the wick which can interfere with proper burning. You can fix this by filling in the finished candle with more melted wax or with wax shavings. As the candle burns, the shavings will melt and fill in the open area.
Allow to sit overnight.
Wrap the bottle in a large dishtowel and place inside your kitchen sink. Wear goggles and gloves to play it safe. Hit the bottle firmly with a hammer several times. Focus on the center of the bottle, not the neck, and rotate the bottle between strikes.
If you break the body of the bottle then you can just wiggle off the neck all in one piece. Striking the neck can cause the neck of your candle to break, as pictured. You can sort of fix this by melting the wax between the broken edges and sticking it back together. It won’t be perfect but it’s something.
Striking too hard in the same place over and over can cause dents, as pictured. You can reshape the bottle somewhat by scraping and melting the wax.
Once the glass is broken in a few places, carefully peel off the shards of glass. The large shards are easy to watch out for, it’s the tiny flakes that will get you! You may need to switch to a different towel at some point to avoid the tiny glass shards.
If the top of the wax is a little funky, just shave it off with an X-acto knife.
Trim the wick with scissors. Congratulations! You’re done!