DIY Scented Candles Inspired by the Original Christmas Gifts: Frankincense and Myrrh

Two out of three kings approve!
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Danielle
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Two out of three kings approve!

When it comes to festive candles, I'm not usually interested. Then I realized how easy it is to make my own, and what a great gift they make, especially scented to evoke the gifts of the Feast of The Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day, when the sweet baby Jesus was found by the Three Kings. Frankincense, myrrh and gold are more in the true spirit of Christmas tradition than pine or poinsettia.

Though I don't practice Christianity today, my upbringing had a lot of Christmas memories, both good and bad. I still participate in celebrating, if only to see my family. Plus, it's worth it to have unfettered access to my uncle's dastardly homemade wine, his Amaro collection, and all the Italian cookies everyone brings, all while playing with OPC (other people's children). 

So yeah, I'm not a grinch, and since I'm also into recycling and lessening our burden on the world, I try to give gifts most years that reflect my thrifty DIY nature.

It occurred to me to make my own candles when I realized that I have all of the ingredients on hand: carrier-type oil (I'm using hemp), beeswax, essential oils for fragrance, and recycled glassware to put it in. Wicks can be purchased online, or you can use a taper candle you have laying around, which you can cut down if necessary.

Supplies that I happened to have in stock, including emergency candles for wicks. (I have dozens of tealights for actual emergencies—no need to look for a candle holder!) Manitoba Harvest Hemp Oil from The Vitamin Shoppe, where you can also get NOW Foods Essential Oils.

Supplies that I happened to have in stock, including emergency candles for wicks. (I have dozens of tealights for actual emergencies—no need to look for a candle holder!) Manitoba Harvest Hemp Oil from The Vitamin Shoppe, where you can also get NOW Foods Essential Oils.

Here's how to make your own frankincense and myrrh candles! 

(You can sub other essential oils to make this your own, and you can try using espresso cups, shot glasses, or mason jars that you don't need anymore. Keep in mind, wider containers will need a bigger wick to burn properly.)

The hardware, including my fav OXO Silicone Spatula and Jigger.

The hardware, including my fav OXO Silicone Spatula and Jigger.

Clean your containers and dry them. If you can, gently warm them so they aren't ice cold when you put in hot wax to reduce the chance of cracking the candle or the container.

The setup!

The setup!

Put a taper candle in the cup, then fill with water and dump into the measuring cup; repeat if making two candles. This will help you determine the total volume of candle base to make. Dry the containers and replace the tapers in the center.

Add 50% of the total volume of wax to a heat-safe glass container.

Add 50% of the total volume of wax to a heat-safe glass container.

Now add 45% of total volume in a carrier oil such as hemp, coconut or olive.

Now add 45% of total volume in a carrier oil such as hemp, coconut or olive.

In a microwave in short bursts or in a double boiler, melt until wax pellets begin to shrink. Then remove from heat and stir; residual heat will melt the rest.

Leafy fridge trying to steal the show.

Leafy fridge trying to steal the show.

When the mixture cools after a moment but is still liquid add 5% total volume in essential oils. Stir well, and get ready to pour quickly!

I did 50% frankincense* to 40% myrrh with a 10% cedarwood for depth.

I did 50% frankincense* to 40% myrrh with a 10% cedarwood for depth.

Pour into a cup around the taper, making sure taper is pressed against the bottom of the container, until about 1/4 inch from the top of the container.

This was the best-smelling part, but try to avoid breathing the fumes.

This was the best-smelling part, but try to avoid breathing the fumes.

Let them cool all the way without moving to avoid bubbles and cracks. I still got one, but it wasn't the end of the world.

My finished candles, and they smell great!

My finished candles, and they smell great!

The smell they give off is not off-putting or strong; it's a subtle fresh zest and pine with a deep, leathery middle, finishing off with a wood ending. I am super-into it, and they burn cleanly due to the wick-to-wax ratio. Using the emergency candles was a great way to skip buying wicks online, but if you live near a craft shop, you may want to take that route.

Though these makes a fabulous and cheap gift, I will be keeping these particular ones for myself and making different ones for gifts. I think I'm more into the old-school-churchy scents than most people anyway.

Photos: Maria Penaloza