DIY Amortentia Candles
Like Ryanne, I was a huge book snob and refused to read the Harry Potter series until shortly before the release of Order of the Phoenix. While she was pretending to like Kerouac, I was openly loathing most of the assigned reading for my sophomore level lit classes (Lookin' at you, Billy Bud), and indulging my love of Mary Higgins Clark in my free time. I finally picked up Sorcerer's Stone at a friend's house. She was taking forever to get ready, the television was occupied by her brother and his mind-numbingly boring video game, and Harry Potter was literally the only reading material in her apartment. By the time we left for dinner, I was a hundred pages in and completely hooked. I bought the first four books the next morning and read them all over the next three days. Then, I read them again. My love for the series has bordered on obsession ever since.
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Given a choice, Ryanne and I would both prefer to live in the universe JK Rowling created. But, we're rational adults. We understand the wizarding world is fictional and we've accepted that we'll never be able to apparate to Diagon Alley or relax in the prefect's magical bathtubs. We've accepted it, but we aren't happy about it. We soothe our disappointment with Harry Potter classes, costume dinners, and merchandise. As you probably know, the variety of merchandise available is staggering; we want all of it. Soup mugs that look like tiny cauldrons? Yes, please. We'll each take a dozen and fill half of them with plants, because how cute would that be? Universal remote wands that let us control our electronics like the witches we really, really wish we could be? Shut up and take our money. The only Harry Potter related item I've never been able to find is the one I most recently decided I couldn't live without: a personalized Amortentia candle.
Amortentia is the most powerful love potion in the Harry Potter universe. Part of its power lies in the fact that it smells different to everyone based on what attracts them most. Harry smells treacle tart, his broomstick handle, and Ginny's hair. To Hermione, the potion smells like fresh cut grass, new parchment, and spearmint toothpaste. These and other character inspired blends are widely available online, but I didn't want a character's blend. I wanted my own and a personalized blend for Ryanne, too. The few listings I found for custom candles were no longer active, so I decided to make them myself.
I thought ordering candle supplies would be a five minute task; it ended up taking me three hours to choose my wax and wicks. The selection was overwhelming and, to be honest, a little intimidating. My plan was to buy soy wax, but I reconsidered after learning paraffin can hold up to twice the scent load. I didn't want the candles to be overpowering, but subtle wasn't what I was going for either. I finally chose a para-soy blend specifically formulated for container candles. This wax had dozens of five star reviews from customers who'd converted from both soy and paraffin. I found it here.
I added the wax to my cart, breathed a naïve sigh of relief, and moved on to the wicks. Did you know there are dozens of types, in dozens of sizes, literally hundreds of wicks to choose from? And if you choose the wrong one, you'll completely ruin your candle? If the wick is too small, the candle will burn unevenly and throw very little scent. If it's too big, it will burn too deep and too tall, and whatever fragrance you added will be overpowered by the smell of the soot accumulating on the wick, container, and maybe even your walls. To make things more confusing, all of the wick selection guides I looked at offered different recommendations. At this point, I was frustrated and tired of shopping; I seriously considered tossing the scents into a reed diffuser and calling it good enough. Then, I tried to imagine hundreds of reed diffusers hovering above the tables of the Great Hall, and I realized I was being ridiculous. Nothing magical has ever happened around a reed diffuser. I also realized I was making this too complicated and looking for information in the wrong places. I found a few artisan crafting websites, scanned through their candle making forums, and found exactly what I needed. CD wicks were the most widely recommended for all types of wax, and my 1 quart, wide mouth jars called for size 20. If you're working with pint size jars, size 16 is the most popular choice. I added them to my cart and moved on to the fun part: the fragrances.
This was the easiest part of the shopping process, because I knew exactly what I was looking for before I started. To me, Amortentia would with out a doubt smell like old, worn saddle leather, lemons, and sweet grass. Ryanne would smell clean sheets, old books, and pipe tobacco. I was pleasantly surprised to find all of the scents available from Indigo Fragrance. I bought Wild West, Lemon, and Sweet Grass for my candle and Library, Clean Cotton, and Pipe Tobacco for Ryanne's. The linked fragrances are available on Amazon. I found Library and Sweet Grass here.
A few days later, all of my supplies arrived and it was finally time to make the candles. From start to finish, this took me less than thirty minutes, and the end results are intoxicating.
The wax is oily and sticky, so lay some sort of protection over your countertop before gathering your supplies. To make your own candle, you will need:
Heat safe containers- I used wide mouth canning jars.
Double boiler- I used a glass jar, but metal pitchers specifically designed for melting wax are available here. The jar worked great with my wide mouth containers, but I'd invest in a pitcher to pour smaller candles.
Oven mitt/ something to protect your hands
Thermometer- A candy or candle thermometer would work best. My candy thermometer is currently packed away, so I used a regular meat thermometer.
Q-tips and Ziploc bags for testing fragrance blends
I don't have the steadiest hands, so I used a canning funnel to help prevent spills.
I filled the bottom of my double boiler with water, turned the heat to high, then filled my jar with one pound of wax. While I waited for it to melt, I experimented with scent blends by dipping Q-tips into the fragrance oils, then sealing them in Ziploc bags. I started with a 1:1:1 ratio; this was perfect for my candle, but the Library scent in Ryanne's was a little over powering. I added additional Q-tips with Clean Cotton and Pipe Tobacco to the bag and after few minutes, it was perfect. Keep in mind, your scents may not combine well. If this is the case, you can make a layered candle instead of a blended one.
Different waxes need to be heated to and poured at different temperatures. Mine needed heated to 175 -185 degrees, then poured between 160 and 170 degrees. This information was listed in the online description, but not the packaging, so be sure to make a note of it when you order. The wax's fragrance load capability will also be listed.
When my wax reached 180 degrees, I pulled the melting jar from the pot and sat it on a cold burner. I checked the temperature every few minutes until it reached 165 degrees. I added the fragrance oils, gave it a quick stir, then slowly poured it into my mason jar. If you're making a layered candle, you'll need to melt a third of your wax at a time and let each layer cool completely before adding the next. If decide to color your candles, add your dye with your fragrance oils. I chose not to because: 1. Adding dye can effect the way your candle smells and burns. 2: Everyone knows Amortentia is pearly white.
*A few tips on waxes and fragrance oils: Waxes and oils are measured by weight, not fluid ounces. A 1 pound block of wax will melt to roughly 20 fluid ounces. I ordered six 1 ounce bottles of fragrance oil and none of them were filled to the same level. Other tutorials recommend weighting all ingredients with a digital kitchen scale. I don't have one, so I improvised. I knew I'd need to keep this as simple as possible before I ordered my supplies. I opted for two really big candles so I could cut the wax block in half and not worry about measuring it any further. The scent load listed for my wax is 10-12%. Calculating at 10%, each of my candles could hold up to 1.6 ounces of fragrance. I held a ruler to my bottles, marked the half way point of my oils, and used roughly 1.5 ounces of fragrance. Measuring Ryanne's oils was much more complicated, since I had to adjust for the overpowering Library scent. I marked the top quarter of that bottle, then measured and marked the other two bottles to compensate for the difference. Her candle has roughly 1.5 ounces of fragrance as well, but it required way more math than I ever want to do again. I will definitely invest in a scale before I make another complicated blend. I have my eye on this one.
If you have wick stickers, attach your wick to the bottom of your container before you pour your wax. I didn't use them and didn't have much trouble keeping the wick centered. I poured my wax, dropped the wick in, and added my supports. My wicks didn't come up above the mouth of my jars, so most of the commercially available wick holders wouldn't have worked for me. The floral wire did exactly what I needed it to and I'd definitely use it again.
So far, we couldn't be happier with the finished products. The wax cooled into perfectly smooth and solid candles, and the cold scent throw is surprisingly strong. And the scents these jars are throwing are AMAZING. The oils smell true to name, with no heavy perfume or chemical odors. They need to cure for two weeks before we light them; since the cold throw doesn't fill the room with fragrance, we've been sitting behind our desks with our faces buried in the jars. Combining your three favorite scents into one candle makes for some pretty powerful aromatherapy. It's not real magic, but we'll take what we can get.