I have a thing for rocks. Pretty much anyone who knows me at all knows this. So it probably isn’t surprising that I see an important connection in the combination of the stone hearth and the fire. It is the element of fire, of course, that transforms a hearth from cold and foreboding to warm and inviting. But while the fire provides the initial heat, it is the stone that will continue to radiate warmth even after the fire has died down. In short, I really do believe that the combo is important here, which leads me to the point of today’s post. If you don’t have a nice stone hearth (or even if you do), a rock candle also provides that beautiful rock and fire combination. And it can be used as the focal point for the fire meditation that we talked about yesterday.
Things You’ll Need:
- Flat piece of sandstone, at least 8” long and 8” wide (you can make these candles with slate tile, too, as well as other types of flat rock, but–with the exception of the slate tile–this requires different type of drill bit, which I haven’t worked with, so I’m going to stick with what I know)
- Drill with a masonry bit
- Glass wick tube (length will depend on the thickness of the rock)
- 18-inch wick (1/8- to 1/16-inch thick)
- Flat top glass or ceramic dish or ashtray for the base*
- Adhesive (I use a type from the auto supply store that is made for use in engines, so I know it can withstand high temperatures)
- Liquid paraffin lamp oil (available at places like Michaels)
- Small plastic funnel
* A note about this base. I have found that the little ceramic ramekins from the frozen crème brulees that I get at my local Safeway are just perfect for this. Of course, this does require that you must first eat the crème brulee, but that is a sacrifice I’m willing to make. In fact, I’ve mastered the whole sacrifice thing so well that I now have something of a surplus… If you live in Tucson and don’t want to get your own dish (not that I can really imagine such a thing, but maybe you’re lactose intolerant…) you can stop by CRIZMAC at 1642 N. Alvernon Way, and I’ll give you one of my extras. You can also buy a whole “kit” from Natural Oil Candles that has everything you’ll need, including bases, to make ten rock candles, but it isn’t cheap, and besides, then there’d be no excuse to eat the crème brulee (your call on that…)
- Select the piece of sandstone you are going to work with. Make sure the bottom of the rock is at least reasonably flat. There are some advantages to having the bottom not be completely flat, which I’ll get to in a minute. Get a feel for how the candle will look by setting it on top of the base. As you’ll see, you want the rock to extend well beyond the base so that the base isn’t visible.
- Immerse the rock in a tub of water and let soak overnight. This is not absolutely necessary, but I’ve found it makes the drilling easier.
- Determine where you want the flame to be on the top of your candle. It will have to be somewhere near the center as it needs to be over the base. Depending on the size of your rock, you may want to drill more than one hole and have more than one flame. Just make sure all holes are over the base, or add an additional base under the second hole (if you have a really large rock).
- Remove the rock from the water it was soaking in and place it over a saucer (I use a terracotta saucer, such as for a plant). Beginning with a small drill bit, drill straight down through the top of the rock, until the drill emerges at the bottom. Drill through the same hole again, this time using a larger drill bit. Continue until you have created a hole large enough for the glass wick tube to fit in.
- Take a good look at how your rock rests on the base. Will you be able to make a complete seal with the adhesive? This is a good news, bad news scenario. If you can make a complete seal, then you won’t have to worry about the oil leaking out when you move your candle. That’s the good news. However, in order to burn efficiently, the fuel needs oxygen, so you will need to drill a second, smaller hole through your rock, next to where the wick will be, for ventilation. Uneven rock? No complete seal? No need to drill the second hole (but you will have to be more careful when moving your candle when it has oil in the reservoir). Go ahead and drill any ventilation holes, as needed, now.
- Put the glass wick tube in the first hole and thread the wick through it. There should be enough wick coming out the bottom to coil in the bottom of your base. For now, keep enough wick extending out of the top so that you can tape it to the top of the rock to hold it in place while you complete the next step. Keeping the wick in place, glue the base to the bottom of the rock and allow to dry. Once dry, cut the wick that extends out of the tube to ½” to 1”. The longer the wick, the higher the flame.
- To fill your candle, gently lift the wick and the glass wick tube out of the hole. Caution: don’t take the wick all the way out (or you’ll have one heck of a time getting it back in!), just lift the glass tube, with the wick, out far enough to make room for the funnel. Insert the small plastic funnel and pour in enough oil to nearly fill the reservoir (this is a bit of a guessing game, unless your base is clear glass and you can see exactly where you are). Allow a little time for the oil to completely saturate the wick.
- Light and enjoy!
A couple of tips:
The base is definitely not the most attractive part of the candle. Your candle will look best if you put it somewhere low (such as a coffee table) so that the view is from above. Alternatively, you could coil some greenery around the base to hide it.
I always buy my supplies from the Wick Store and have been very pleased with their products and service. The starter kit will have more than you need for just one candle, but regardless of the size of your rock, etc., it will likely contain the parts you need (i.e., a wick tube of the right length). Then, you’ll just need the base—and we already discussed how to handle that—and the oil. The other option is to buy the individual parts, but since they’re usually sold in bulk, you’ll probably wind up with way more than you need (unless you’re going into the rock candle business) and you’ll pay more than you would for just the starter kit.
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