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Candle-making

PART III: Increasing production with a carousel

(Parts I and II Burning materials and the wick and The Dipping Method were published in Newsletters 9 and 10, part III reproduced here concludes this item. The full article is taken from Candle making in a small workroom by Frank Elsen and Pol Janssens of the ATOL* Foundation in Leuven, Belgium. The article first appeared in VRAAGBAAK Vol 14 No 2. (VRAAGBAAK is now renamed AT-Source).

Expansion to a carousel

A frame allows 10 candles to be made at the same time. Using a cube-formed frame, even more candles can be made at once. (fig. 1*).

Hooks at the top and bottom of the frames are attached at such a distance from each other that the candles will never touch (eg. the distance between 2 hooks is the diameter of a candle plus 1cm more). We can also determine the length of wick and candle by adjusting the distance between the top and bottom plane.

The wicks are spanned in the same way as on the single frames (see Newsletter 10, page 9): the wick thread is rolled off a bobbin and fastened directly to the first hook in the corner of the frame. Then the wick is spanned throughout the whole frame and finally knotted to the last hook of the frame.

How do we make a cube-formed frame?

The sizes depend on the desired production and candle diameter, or on the size of the wax container we can obtain. For example, if one has a wax container, with a diameter Z then we can easily dip a square frame with a bottom edge d (fig. 2*).

The relationship between the diameter of the wax container and the maximal edge of the frame is always: dmax = 0.7 x Z. If we construct 4, 6 or 8 such cube formed dipping frames, then we can combine them in a so-called carousel as in the schematic drawing (fig 3*). Each frame can be lifted up and down by gliding it along a metal rod to which it is attached. The first frame is dipped in the wax container and lifted. The carousel is turned so that the second frame is hanging above the wax. This frame is dipped and lifted, and so on for each frame.

A few construction details of the carousel (Fig 3*)

1. Each cube hangs on a cable which, running over 2 wheels, is connected to the following frame. In this way a contra weight is formed when the first frame is raised and lowered. As each frame becomes heavier by the thickening of the candles, so the contra weight also becomes heavier.

Dipping becomes easier, and less tiring in this way.

2. To speed up the work before and after dipping (the spanning of the wick and removing of the candles) one can make a holder into which the dipping frame can easily slide in and out. The holder is attached to the guiding bar, and its construction is very simple: two metal U-profiles per frame.

3. The guiding of the dip-frames on their holders along the bar involves a little simple welding. A short piece of tube that fits just around the bar is attached to the two U-profiles.

4. The height of the carousel can be determined as follows: the bar along which the dipping frames slide must be twice as long as one dipping frame since the frame must be able to be raised and lowered. The bars must be able to turn above the wax container.

5. At the installation one must take care that the axle of each bar is above the middle points of the wax container.

6. We use an old kettle as a wax container (no copper) in which a square container is hung. Using 2 kettles that fit in each other, we can obtain a double boiler effect; with wax in the innermost kettle and water in the outer kettle.

* Where reference to figures is made, please see the original journal article                                                                                 

A building plan (for which there is a small charge) of the carousel can be obtained from ATOL*. A metal shop with the basic tools can easily construct the carousel (welding, sawing, drilling).                                                                                

How much energy does this installation use?

The wax container holds about 90kg wax. The double boiler 100 litres of water. The wax must be melted and heated from 20°C to 70°C, and the wax container and the 100 litres of water must also be heated. Using 25Kg of wax, the container must be heated for 2-3 hours. Once the dipping starts, we need to burn 2kg of wood per hour to keep the wax liquid and at the right temperature to melt newly added wax.

Warming and melting uses the most wood (or other fuel). Therefore try to save energy by covering or insulating the container, once it is heated and the wax is melted (and dripping has ended), especially at night, so that heat is not wasted.

Wood, old packing materials, rags, charcoal, etc can all be used as insulating material. Take care that this insulation material remains dry and does not catch fire!

* ATOL, Studie en documentatiecentrum voor ‘aangepaste’ technologie in ontwikkelingslanden,, Belgium.