Thursday, December 27, 2007

How to dip beeswax candles

#1. Put on right clothing (pants, t-shirt, socks and shoes), get wax, chisel, hammer or mallet, and box. Sometimes wax comes in big blocks so you have to break it into smaller pieces. Put the block of wax in the box. Put on safety glasses. Put chisel on the wax block, and hit the chisel hard with the hammer (it may take a few hits for the wax block to fracture). If you have a small block it takes fewer hits to break into small enough pieces to fit into the jar. If it’s a large block you have to be patient (the big block of wax takes a long time to break).

Then you have to get the right equipment.

#2. Get a pot and a quart sized canning jar or a can (for the wax).
You have to melt the wax next.
#3. Put about two cups water in the pot and heat it until boiling. Turn the heat down so the water simmers. Remember, wax is very flammable and it's also very hot when it's melted. Be careful!

#4. Put the wax in the jar (canning tongs work well for this) and the jar in the pot with the water so the wax melts.

If you find a stick outside you can use it to stir your melting wax.

#5. While the wax melts you measure the wicking and cut it into lengths for two candles each and some extra wick to hang them by. For instance, we cut pieces of wick that were 14 inches long (6 inches for each candle + 2 inches to
hang them by.)

#6. Once the wax is all melted you can start dipping! But before you do that you have to get two ladder back chairs and a wrapping paper roll or a long cardboard tube. Take the two chairs and put them together facing away from each other then put the tube between the ladders so you can hang the wicks from the tube. Then you get to dip

#7. Mom is rolling out one of the soft candles on a piece of newspaper on the counter. This makes the candles straight if it's done several times.

Then you dip it in the molten wax. Just a little word for safety "Keep your fingers out of the hot wax!" #8. You go get one piece of wick and hold it in the middle so the two ends hang down. Now you take your little skinny wax covered wick and you go hang it from the tube so the ends hang down on either side. Repeat this until you use all your pieces of wick.

#9. To color the beeswax, if you use a block of dye, you have to break it into pieces to put it into your melted wax.

When the candles are about this big, we start cutting off the big drip that forms on the bottom of the candles just before we dip them again.

Here I'm hanging up my last set. I'll go back to the first set (we have eight here) to dip next.

Here the color is just starting to change. Most of the dye is in the bottom of the jar and we haven't stirred it because we enjoyed watching the color change.

When the candles get pretty big we have to continue to add pieces of wax to the jar to keep the level near the top. Sometimes it's a good idea to dip one candle at a time when the jar is really full.

Almost finished. We rolled them and trimmed the bottoms so they would be even and not lumpy.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Fall Report

Our Fall Science Report

This fall we’ve been thinking about global warming and wanting to make changes to help reduce our impact. Three areas where we can make changes are transportation, in home energy use, and food. We focus on food in this report. The reason why our food is important is because it can come from somewhere like Russia (or somewhere else far away) and it must travel a long distance to us, in planes, boats, trucks, or trains. This contributes to global warming. We can help to reduce the problem by buying locally grown food.
On the Internet and with research help from a librarian at the Boulder Public Library, we found out that other people with the same concerns are forming social movements with different names such as “Local Foods”,1. “Slow Foods”,2. or “Relocalization”.3. These movements have different but similar goals such as combating or preserving cultural cuisine (Slow Foods), making food more sustainable, locally based, and the people more self-reliant (Local Foods and Relocalization). “People worldwide are rediscovering the benefits of buying local food. It is fresher than anything in the supermarket and that means it is tastier and more nutritious. It is also good for your local economy--buying directly from family farmers helps them stay in business. Family farmers sell their products directly to the public through various channels.”.1. People who only eat food that grew near them are called locavores or localvores. Locavores only eat food that came from within a hundred mile radius.4. We decided that we want to save and store food that grew near us in our garden or on a farm that’s as near to us as possible but we will still buy some of our food outside of that radius. For example, we get chickens or our Thanksgiving turkey from Wisdom Farm in Haxtun, CO, it’s in the Northeastern corner of this state. We calculated that it’s about 153 miles away from us (well, not in our 100 mile radius but it’s still good).
As we consider where our food comes from and think about what we can change, we realize that certain factors impact our ability to find foods locally. Because we live on a high prairie our growing season is limited. We might be able find locally grown tomatoes in October, but what about other times in the year? It makes sense to store food, but how? We don’t want to freeze food because that requires electricity and this would increase our energy use. Other choices are canning, drying, and buying some things at harvest time and storing them carefully.
The first storage technique we decided to learn was canning. To store food we’ve been learning how to use a pressure canner (we use it a whole lot). Also we found a lot of information on the Internet, but we know we can’t trust it, so we use information from the U.S. department of Agriculture5. and our Cooperative Extension office.6. We noticed that our garden makes only one kind of fruit; concord grapes! We learned how to make grape juice, then how frustrating it is to make grape jelly (worrying about insects stings when picking grapes, skinning the grapes, filtering the seeds out, and getting the grape juice to jell). From all our work we canned 2 pints of juice, 18 half pints and 10 pints of jelly. We froze 1 pint of jelly and 3 half pints. We also had 2 pints of fresh juice left over. We drank the juice and have already eaten 3 and a half pints of jelly. Our final total was 3 gallons, 1.5 pints of jelly and it tastes really yummy!
Other crops from our garden this year are summer squashes and winter squashes. This is the first year that we grew winter squash and I (Russell) liked most of the Acorn and Spaghetti squashes. I also found out that I really like Zucchini. We grew 11 Acorn squashes, which combined weight is 18.48 lbs. We grew 3 Spaghetti squashes with combined weight of approximately 4 lbs. At Munson family farm and Cure Farm7. we got lots of different kinds of squashes; Butternut, Spaghetti, Hubbard, Pumpkins, Delicata, Acorn, etc. squashes (yes, we weighed almost all of our squashes). I stood on our bathroom scale, I held the squashes one at a time, and subtracted my weight and got the total weight of the squashes. The total weight from Munson, Cure, and our garden is approximately 240 lbs.
Last year we tried storing our squashes downstairs and they rotted and got moldy, then we moved the good ones to the garage and they lasted about until February. This year we put our squashes in the garage and they’re doing fine. But now we have to worry about mice eating our squashes! Also for next year we planned and are still planning for garden beds put in the middle of the yard. There will be two beds spaced so all of us will have enough room, including our dogs who need to run. I’m also planning (well my mom got the whole idea with a little bit of inspiration from me) to have a food stand (or farm stand) to sell to anyone who passes by. We still don’t know where it will be, but we’ve got a few locations for it in our neighborhood.

We’re still thinking about what else we eat and where it comes from. We use flour to make pizza, noodles, and bread. We often get King Arthur flour from Whole Foods and Safeway. We tried to find information on the King Arthur website ( and we found no information about where their flour comes from. I called King Arthur Customer Service and found out from someone named Debbie that the flour comes from the Midwest. We want to get closer than that. We went to the Library and talked to a Reference Librarian who suggested 3 websites: “Colorado Proud”, “Boulder Relocalization” and our Cooperative Extension. The Cooperative Extension recommended that we check the “Colorado Proud”8. website. Mom and I checked the “Colorado Proud” website and found listings for companies that produce food all over Colorado, sorted by county, company name and by product. Most of the companies listed that offered wheat, did not have web addresses, so we’ll have to e-mail or call them. “Boulder Relocalization” did not reply to mom’s email. That’s our Fall Science Report (in our Winter Science Report we will discuss our continued research).


1. Payet, Guillermo. Local Harvest. 2007. 27 Nov. 2007

2. Klemperer, Jerusha, Assistant the Executive Director, Slow Food USA 20 Jay Street Suite 313 Brooklyn, NY 11201 < > 10 Dec. 2007

3. Brownlee, Michael / Hanthorn, Lynette Marie, Co-Founders, Boulder Valley Relocalization, 4500 19th Street, #422Boulder, CO 80304, < > 10 Dec. 2007

4. “Local Foods.” Wikipedea 6 Dec. 2007<> 10 Dec. 2007

5. Hansen, Jimmy, Website Administrator, Andress, Elizabeth L., Ph.D.,Extension Food Safety Specialist, and Project Director, The University of Georgia, National Center for Home Food Preservation, < > 30 Nov. 2007.

6. Uhing, Chris, Website Administrator, Benavente, Janet, Family and Consumer Science, Colorado State University Extension 9755 Henderson Rd. Brighton, CO 80601 <> 30 November 2007

7. Finbley, Connie, Website Administrator, Cure Farm, 2004 P.O. Box 19913Boulder, CO 80308, < > 4 Dec. 2007

8. Lipetzky, Tom, Director, 700 Kipling St., Suite, 4000Lakewood, CO 80215, Colorado Department of Agriculture, Colorado Proud
< > 10 December 2007