A lot of people (myself included) have found that there is a very large amount of hemp left over in their house. So, what can you do with it all? One of the best, easiest, and simplest things that you can do is to make your own hemp candle wicks. How do you do it?
First, a quick explanation of makes a wick a wick (instead of a string or anything else). It is simply a strand of something flammable that is coated with something else that is flammable. Though this sounds strange, it actually makes it burn slower. However, there are a few things that you have to do to properly transform your hemp into a wick. Normally with cotton, you need to soak it with water, salt, and acid. Since hemp is already much dryer than cotton, you can either do this step or skip it, it is up to you.
If you do decide to soak the hemp in this solution, make sure to let it dry out thoroughly before the next step. Once it is fully dry, melt some wax in a double boiler to dip it in. You can use paraffin wax, soybean wax, beeswax, or just use an old candle that has burned out (a great way to save money and the rest of the candle!) Ideally, you want to heat the wax up to 160 to 170 degrees (Fahrenheit) before you start dipping the wick.
If at all possible, you want to dip the wick while keeping it perfectly straight. The easiest way to do this is to tie a weight to the bottom of the thread (anything will work, such as a quarter) and then hang it from something as it dries so that it stays straight. If you want to do more than one at a time, you can either buy specially made racks (a little pricey for my tastes), or you can glue paperclips (the thick ones) to a dowel rod for a much cheaper alternative.
After you have dipped it into the melted wax, hang it so that it is straight and let it fully dry and cool. If you real want to make your own hemp candle wicks burn evenly, you can dip then a second time and let them fully dry. This will give them a thick even coating that will burn slowly and consistently, plus it will not need to be trimmed very often. Once you have it coated and dried, you are ready to make your wick into a candle. What’s the easiest, cheapest way that you can do without buying supplies?
Use something around your house as a mold, but we’ll get to that in a minute. First, we need to get or make a wick tab. A wick tab is just a small piece of metal at the bottom of the candle that prevents the wick from burning all the way down, which would either overheat the bottom of the container if it’s a container candle or burn whatever the candle is sitting on. Now, truth be told, wick tabs are so insanely inexpensive (around 10 cents each) that if you think you are going to make more than 3 candles, just buy a pack. If you’re impulsive like me and can’t wait to get some though, you can make one out of a thumbtack. How?
Just stick the thumbtack through the wick and set it in the bottom of your mold, that’s all there is to it. So, now we have a wick that is ready to go, and it is on a wick tab for safety purposes, we are ready to find a mold to make our candle. Almost anything will work, you can use a soup can, coffee can, or even just a soda can. Personally, I like the soda can because I can unmold the candle (soup cans have ridges, so the candle stays in the can). Just cut the top of off the soda can very carefully, minding the sharp edges, and put your ‘wick tab’ in the bottom center of the mold. To keep the wick centered and straight, hang it from something until the candle has cooled.
Once it is all set, just pour the 170 degree wax into the mold and let it cool for several hours. It will sink a bit in the middle, you can either leave it like that or top it off with a little bit of slightly hotter wax (around 175 degrees). Once it has fully cooled, cut the wick to one quarter of an inch, unmold your candle, and your ready to go! Now that you know how to make your own hemp candle wicks, you can make as many candles as you want to!