It’s been almost a year since I rendered my beef tallow. I kept it in the fridge for a month or so, using it for a few cooking recipes. But the procrastination needed to stop. I needed to continue on my homesteading journey to try to learn how to make tallow candles. So I finally did it this weekend. Aren’t you so proud of me? 🙂
The easiest way to make tallow candles would be to add a wick to a small mason jar, pour the liquid melted tallow in the jar like I did when I made my soy survival candles and allow to cool. That would have been the most useful and easy for me to store. So if I had to do this again that would be the way I would make candles out of tallow.
But honestly I was in this for the adventure. I wanted to try to make the candles like my ancestors did long ago. I wanted to dip them using string. So that’s just what I did!
How to Make Tallow Candles
First thing I needed was some string or cording. I am sure you can use just about any kind of string, but I ordered in some cotton wick from Amazon.com to use for this project. From reading online many homesteaders used cotton material for the wicks as they burn well.
Next thing I did was put my two jars of tallow into my crockpot filled half-way with warm water.
Once the tallow was melted I was ready for dipping. I cut off a piece of the wick, folded it in half so I knew where the center was and then placed both ends into the tallow jars. I let that sit for 15 minutes, as I wanted the oils to soak into the wick to make it all burn slower.
After that time was up I took the wick an laid it as straight as I could on a piece of parchment paper. I allowed that to cool until it was solid (about 5-10 minutes).
For the process of candle dipping you need to have your hot oil and your cold water for quick cooling. I filled two more quart sized canning jars with ice-cold water.
It was now dipping time…. I was really excited to get started on this. Don’t mind my messy phone-zone.
So I dipped the string into the tallow, then into the water.
Then tallow then water, and repeat, repeat & repeat.
I was hoping the string would stay straight but it kept on curving and twirling near the ends.
I tried straightening it out often but it kept on doing it. I probably should have but some sort of heavy bead or penny on the bottom of the string so it would go straight. But I didn’t. And kept on just trying to make it work.
The water jars would get all gunked up with cooled tallow drops, so every once in awhile I would scoop the tallow out.
After what seemed like 2.4531 million dips it finally started looking like the candle was growing.
And it seemed to move a lot faster after that. Or maybe I was just getting excited because it appeared to be working. Either way it was getting bigger.
And after about 20 minutes of dipping I had myself a short nobbly beautiful pair of tallow candles! Woo hoo!
One thing that surprised me is that the big huge stink of tallow oil didn’t seem to be strong at all when it was melted again. Weird I know! So I am guessing that the candles themselves probably won’t stink too bad when getting melted. But I will have to be the judge of that soon. Maybe tonight I will light one up and see.
And there you have it! Homemade tallow dipped candles. What do you think? Will you be making these anytime soon?
My 6th Great Grandfather was a Tallow Maker by the Name of John Franklin, Benjamin’s Older Brother in Boston, MA….Thought I’d give this a go and see if any of my “Tallow Man” DNA kicks in! Super excited to try this method…. I’ll let you know!
John Calhoun says
Tallow candles can be eaten in a survival situation too. Paraffin wax is inedible.
It’s not inedible (it’s all over supermarket fruit for prettiness sake), but it’s non-nutritive. Tallow has fat calories your body can use, and when things get really hairy you can melt them and fry stuff in the fat. Don’t discount parafin though, it’s useful in a lot of ways that fat isn’t.
Just thought a fishing line weight that clamps to the bottom of the wick might be easy to put on. Then when you don’t need it anymore, would slide off with a little push.
i wanted to know if its possable to use deer fat for rendering tallow .. and can it be use like the beef tallow? i know a few people who hunt deer and they all just throw the fat away .. i know the deer fat feels different from the beef.. it very dry almost like wax .. i hope its usful because i can get lots of it in the winter for free
I personally have never tried using deer but after a quick search online I have found that people find success in it! Good thinking!
I am a candle maker. The hardest tallows to use for dipped candles are: beef, sheep, & game. The other animal fats are too soft for dipped candles. However, the soft fats can be used in a bowl with Piece of wick sticking in. Think aladans lamp.
When I teach pioneer candle making classes, we dip in the wax (or tallow) for a few seconds, then dip in some water, then the kid goes to the end of the line. This let’s the wax set on for 30 seconds or so.
If your wax/tallow is too hot, your candles will get smaller. Sheep tallow had a difficult time sticking to the wick, I added some wax, and that helped.
Thanks, Margaret! It is always good to get an expert’s take on things! I will make sure I do it just like you said next time…unless you are free to come help me! 🙂
Pegi Nelson says
I am a candlemaker and I teach a pioneer candlemaking class. Beef or game fat can be used. Supposedly sheep fat works, but I had to add paraffin to it before anything would stick to the wick. Rendering sheep fat was quite unpleasantly fragrant.
Pegi, Kennewick, WA
I have been experimenting with this and have been trying to harden the tallow by adding alum – I’ve tried adding directly to the warm liquid tallow and also dissolving in warm water then adding to the tallow, both with not much luck. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks for the great site!
I have been really trying to find a website like this! I love it! I don’t have access to much beef tallow, but will see if I can try this in the future. Thanks again!
When i use to dip candles, I did 1.5 dips, and that helped the bottoms get heavier and form stay straight. I started with a form, but I’d imagine if you made a few little beads at the bottom or did the bottom inch a few dips first, it would weight the wicks down nicely.
That is a great idea! Thanks Molly.
What does ” Tallow ” mean ? ( Dumb question I’m sure ? ) How do You burn them ? 🙂
Tallow, is rendere fat (traditionally beef) and can be used to make candles, soap, salves, and of course, to cook with!
I usually just tie washers to the bottom of the wicks so they stay straight. After I get the candle how I want it I just snip the washers off, then problem is solved and candles are made. But it took a lot of trial and error to get my method the way I like it. Plus you can make jar candles al well with tallow. Have fun candle making!
Was also thinking……
If you wanted smaller candles without gunking up or using your mason jars, why not try a dixie cup? Once the tallow has cooled, you could peel the cup off. Voila- votive candles.
And for the smell, how about a few drops of essential oil?
Pegi Nelson says
Paper coffee type cups work best. Dixie cups are not designed to stand up to the heat of the hot wax, and it ends in a wax mess.
soo… inquisitive minds want to know – did they stink to burn?