Candle making or candle pouring has been a popular craft activity since the early 1970s. In the last two or three years, crafters have begun making hurricane candle shells from wax. With a votive candle placed inside, these shells provide a soft ambiance, conducive to prayer and meditation, imaginative magic, or romance.
The idea is based on the old-fashioned hurricane lantern: an oil or candle lamp with a tall chimney to protect the flame in wind or drafts. A hurricane shell is a large hollow container which works like the lamp chimney.
You might think that a hurricane shell made of wax would melt if a candle were placed inside it, but if made large enough, it will not be affected. It can be made of wax that has a slightly higher melting temperature, or other ingredients can be added to help the shell resist melting. A hurricane candle shell can last a long time if it is properly made.
The following instructions are for people who have a little experience with candle pouring. The basics are very easy to learn. Your local craft stores, as well as national chains such as michaels.com and joann.com, carry a full line of supplies. You should create a safe, appropriate work space and become accustomed to the procedures and safety measures for candle pouring before attempting to make a candle shell.
Get a large pillar mold -- six inches in diameter or more. It can be any shape: round, square, hexagonal. Because you are not making a candle with this mold, you should seal the wick hole. You may be able to find a mold that is specifically designed for making hurricane shells. For now, let's assume you're using an ordinary pillar mold. Prepare the mold by spraying the inside with a cooking spray or mold release spray; this will make the shell easier to slide out once it is done.
The wax for the shell should be something that will not burn too easily; that is, it must have a high melting point. A temperature above 150 to 190 F is preferred. Get a hard paraffin wax, or try soybean wax. Depending on the size of your mold, you may need as much as eight to ten pounds. Also, get a smaller amount of microcrystalline wax to mix with it; the ratio should be 1/2 lb. microcrystalline to every 5 lbs. normal wax.
Have a cold water bath ready. Be sure you have weights for the mold, to hold it steady in the bath.
If you are using microcrystalline wax, melt this separately from the normal wax, then pour it into the container of normal wax. When the waxes are thoroughly melted, pour them into the mold. Wait a minute or two and tap the sides of the mold with a wooden spoon; this is to get rid of air bubbles. Now set the whole thing to cool in the cold water bath.
Immediately, you will see that the cold water bath cools and hardens the wax in the mold from the outside in. When the wax is hardened to a bit more than 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, there will still be liquid wax at the center.
Very carefully, lift the mold out of the cold bath. If a skin of wax has formed on the top of the liquid wax at the center, you'll need to scoop it out gently. Pour the liquid wax back into the melting pot.
Now, put the mold on a level surface and leave it to cool for several hours. Just before sliding the shell out of the mold, it should be put in the refrigerator for about twenty minutes. This will make the shell easier to remove.
Some people recommend turning the shell over onto a piece of foil and placing it on a warm (not hot) frying pan for a few minutes to make the top of the shell smooth and even. Be very careful about doing this, as it can easily backfire and melt more of the shell than you want.
Once the shell is done, you can put your votive (in a glass container) inside the shell, light it up and enjoy the show.
You can get very fancy with hurricane candle shells. You can add a bit of coloring (not too much, or the light of the votive won't show as well). If you have a special shell mold you can even put in silk feathers or flowers, dried real flowers, or glass beads -- use your imagination.