Welcome back! I know you have all been waiting on the edge of your seats for my Candlefish recap. No? Well if you haven’t been then you SHOULD have been because it was so. much. fun!
I knew CandleFish was my kind of place the second we entered the shop. It was open, bright and full of clean smells and good vibes. All of the Chandlers (that is the official name for a candle maker…just like a tailor, cobbler, etc.) were very friendly and our teacher, Kat, was so personable and knowledgeable which made the class interesting and entertaining!
We were seated at our work spaces and offered complimentary water or coffee (or you can BYOB! They provide the glassware FYI) and Kat told us all about how Candlefish came to be, the art of scenting candles and how those scents are created and explained the process for creating our own candles. Fun fact, pretty much every single smell in every type of product is synthetic and lots are created in Switzerland. We all introduced ourselves and had to share what scent we thought we would be if we were a candle. My favorite answer was a guy who picked “steak and french fries” Robert would love that candle if it ever comes to fruition. I chose fresh herbs because A. I love to cook and B. I love clean, fresh scents when it comes to candles. Too fruity and too floral-y are not my favorites. We learned that there are lots of different scent profiles that different smells fit into; beachy, aquatic, floral, citrus, epicurean (think almond, vanilla, food scents), green/earthy, woody, the list goes on. Most of what I was drawn to fell into the epicurean or green/earthy category, go figure!
Kat then showed us the wax melters (I’m sure there is a more technical name than that but I can’t remember) and explained the history and differences between different types of waxes. Candles were initially made of leftover lard, and the Chandlers would go from house to house making candles for families. Beeswax candles then became popular but were expensive and only used by churches and the upper class. These days soy candles are all the rage, and were the type that we would be making during the class.
Kat also showed us the small wax melter that is used to make dipped, taper candles. These candles are a labor of love as they have to be dipped around 45 times and the wax must dry in between each dip. I remember making a candle like this on a field trip to Colonial Williamsburg when I was younger so it was neat to see this process again.
Next came the fun part, choosing our scent!
Candlefish has over 100 different scents that they currently use, but since smelling all of those would literally take you a week/and or give you a killer headache, Kat had pulled about 15 different scents from different scent profiles for us to try. We were given handy little number cards and a pen and went down the line, sniffing each scent and marking our favorites/least favorites etc. Candlefish stores these cards for you, which they adorably call “Library Cards” and keep on file. This way you can easily keep track of all your favorite Candlefish candles (or a friend significant other will know exactly what to get you if they come in looking for a gift). You can update your card whenever you’d like as their scents change or as you have the chance to try more.
They have a “Library” where one of every candle is stored for you to sniff at your leisure. It’s even got an adorable library ladder that rolls from side to side so the Chandlers can easily access the candles. Of course the book nerd in me had to get a photo op.
I ended up choosing scent #36 which fell under the Water/Fresh category.
After everyone chose their scents, Kat walked us through the mixing, measuring and wick placement.
As we waited for the wax to cool we made personalized labels and browsed the store before it was time to pour our candles. As our candles set, Kat shared tips on how to best care for your candles. Who knew you had to care for your candles? Since many of you are probably clueless like I was, I’m happy to share my new wealth of knowledge:
1. Your wick should never be longer than 1/4 inch
2. Burn your candle all the way out to the edge, otherwise it tunnels (aka only burns a deep crater in the middle)
3. Never leave a candle lit for longer than 4 hours, otherwise it gets too hot and burns away the fragrance oil and you’ll be left with candles that don’t smell, no bueno
I have never paid attention to any of the above when burning candles, so I certainly will from now on. I mean hey, candles are expensive!
Our candles needed to set over night and Candlefish happily ships them to you if you are leaving town the next day. Anna is going to pick ours up and I will get mine next time we visit. I can’t wait to smell the finish product!
In addition to this class, Candlefish offers a citronella candle class and a leatherworking class where you make wallets. We had so much fun and learned a lot, so if you are in Charleston and feeling crafty, I highly recommend you check out a course!