We had a party over the weekend and I made a collection of walnut candles to give to each family at the shindig to burn for Solstice this week. There is a tradition on Solstice of burning wishes for the new year either in candles or bonfires. Of course, these candles would be lovely at any special meal or holiday celebration, or just as a small gift. Below, a quick tutorial.
Split and hollow out your walnuts. I find the most reliably successful way is to pierce into the top of the walnut where there is generally a small open crack already. Slice your knife down into the walnut and then pull it along its seam. Some nuts won't open this way, others will break but for the most part it works.
You'll need to prepare wicks. You can buy wick bases and wire or paper core candlewick at most craft stores and assemble those with a needlenose pliers. Or, you can just use a small piece of twine the you dip into the melted wax to stiffen it a bit and then stick into the candle wax once it begins to set. I make sure to buy wick clearly marked lead-free. Many candle wicks have a metal wire and sometimes it can be lead which means you, er, burn lead when you burn the candle. Doesn't sound like the best idea to me.
In the past, when I have made these, I have struggled while filling them as the walnuts will not ever balance quite right and steady. This go round I had a stroke of genius. Playdough! I rolled out a sheet of playdough and then pushed the halves into the dough to hold them level and steady. In case you don't have playdough lying about, you can use my favorite recipe here to make your own. (You could even gift the lot to a child for the holidays when you finish with it!)
There are a couple of options for filling the walnuts with wax. I used beeswax melted in a double boiler. One tradition for Solstice specifically is to melt down the stumps of candles you have burned throughout the year. Or last, you can drip wax right off a lit candle, although if you are doing many walnuts this will take much longer.
Allow the wax to set. If you did not use wick bases, as soon as the wax sets a top layer you can push your pre-waxed wicks in and they should stay upright.
Once the wax looks nice and opaque, lift the shells up from the playdough. You'll likey have some spilled wax on the playdough which I was able to peel off and throw back into my pot to use again.
Take some time to peel off any wax stuck to the outside of the shells.
I packaged them three to a bag with a short poem found here and instructions.
The poem and instructions read:
The candles can certainly be burned just sitting on a table, but they just look so lovely floating in water this is the way I like to burn them best.