Bayberry Christmas Candles


| 12/14/2015 12:00:00 PM


Tags: candles, beeswax, bayberry wax, Renee Benoit, northern California, California,

Renee-Lucie BenoitChristmas is always a time of excitement for me. When we were kids we got the Sears catalog a couple months before Christmas and we would immediately start poring over the toy section with great zeal. We would circle the toys we hoped for and then we would make our little lists. Sometimes these little lists would be quite long! Mine would be prioritized in the order of greatest importance just so Santa would not be confused. For years a pony topped the list. Everything else was an "also-ran" back up in case Santa could not get the pony in the sleigh. Every year I did not get one. Fortunately, Santa always made up for the disappointment and when I was older and learned the truth about Santa Mom told me the reason why. "We have no place to keep a pony." Which was kind of a lame excuse but I had to accept it.

One of the other delights of the season were the bayberry candles my mother bought. I don't know where she got them but I absolutely loved the scent. After a while the bayberry candles stopped appearing and I never found out why. I was too busy with the social whirl of high school and then college studies. But I never forgot them and years later I find myself on a homestead ranch living a do-it-yourself lifestyle. The memory of bayberry candles comes back.

It turns out that bayberry candles are very easy to make. Actually, any type of candle is very easy to make if you have enough wax and a few pieces of equipment. I ordered my bayberry wax from an outfit on the east coast. Bayberries only grow in the northeast and they are relatively rare. This is why true bayberry candles are hard to come by. It's just so much easier to add scent to paraffin and make a candle that way. With true bayberry one needs to have a lot of berries and then the waxy substance in the berries is rendered out.

From the Historic Williamsburg website: Candles were an important part of everyday life in the 18th century. Bayberry candles were among the most prized candles in colonial America because of their clear, more consistent light and pleasant scent. One of the first written accounts of bayberry candles was in 1698 and exclaimed that instead of "stinking" they really do "perfume like incense." A Virginian historian reported in 1705 that the process of making bayberry candles was a very "modern discovery."

I decided to make my own bayberry candles. I sourced a place to buy the wax and since it was rather on the expensive side I decided to make votive size candles. I talked to the wax source and they told me to cut the wax 3 to 1 (beeswax to bayberry wax) because they said the bayberry wax had a strong scent.

So with a few supplies and a pot I bought at a second hand store I was off on my nostalgic adventure!




mother earth news fair

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Feb. 17-18, 2018
Belton, Texas

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!

LEARN MORE