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Candlemaking Merit Badge, Expert Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,399 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,095 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Make It Easy/Candlemaking Expert Level Merit Badge, I got to channel my inner pioneer girl. Actually, she’s not very inner: she rises to the top at frequent occasions.

Maybe it’s a childhood filled with all the Little House books,

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Photo by Bill Morrow via Wikimedia Commons

maybe it’s my love affair with frilly and functional aprons,

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maybe it’s the fact that I crave a pony and the wind in my hair …

uh, where was I? Right, candlemaking.

I can see me now … in my ruffled nightgown, holding my candle high, as I feed the hogs and bake my own bread … Okay, okay, back to reality (and indoor plumbing; can I get an amen?).

I had already made my own candles—tea lights and Mason jar ones—but now I got to really go all Early Americana, and try my hand at making taper candles. You know the ones: long and skinny and super old-fashioned looking.

I just know Ma Ingalls probably made enough of these to burn down Plum Creek (had she ever wanted to). And the fun part of this badge requirement was getting to share the experience with a friend (no, not Nellie, I chose Midge … far less persnickety and hardly ever bratty).

What we used to make our delicious smelling beeswax tapers:

  • Hemp string (Buy at the craft store. Beeswax burns hot and bright, so you want a good-quality string like hemp)
  • A big chunk of beeswax (we begged borrowed stole purchased some from our friendly local bee farmer)
  • A big double boiler

You could also add in some scent or color, but honestly, I was going by my new mantra WWMID? (What Would Ma Ingalls Do?)

I couldn’t picture her burning anything less than golden-colored, sweet, honey-scented tapers. A lime green, gardenia scented one? Nah. But if you’re more the WWBD? type (What Would Beyonce Do?) then add in some extra oomph.

It took a while—and lots and lots of dipping—to get a nice, chunky taper shape, so we filled the silences with my musings of living off the grid, homestead style. Midge was skeptical that I could go longer than a week without Internet and bubble baths, but I don’t know … that inner pioneer girl inside me is crying to get out!

Photo, NBC Television via Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes she pipes down when there’s a Sherlock marathon on Netflix though, so maybe she’s confused.

After our tapers were finished and hanging upside down from my kitchen pot rack, we traipsed into town (NOT on a pony. Drat.) and went shopping for store-bought candles. This is part of the badge earning, peeps. Don’t fret. We needed to learn what our fellow townspeople were burning and buying, and just how often toxins were being released as a result. The results? Shocking, I tell you. Petroleum, parabens, paraffin, dyes, and not to mention, nasty fake scents that gave me instant headaches. I wanted to replace all the candles in the stores with my own homemade tapers, but Midge assured me that wasn’t exactly appropriate. Or legal. Legal Smegal!

WWMID? Well, I suppose she would make a few more as gifts and calmly and lovingly encourage those around her to make the switch.

Now. Where’s my pony?

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