I have heard about people on Christmas Eve surrounding their house with candles in milk bottles or cartons. I would like to hear from anyone who can give me details on how this is done. Is it plastic bottles or cartoons used? Are they painted and do they have sand in them? Or is there anything else about them you can tell me so I can make them next year?
Lyn Morley From Australia
This is the way they do it in El Paso, Texas. You need brown paper sacks, lunch size. Fill part way with sand. Put in a candle. Arrange around outside of house or on rooftops. Christmas Eve, light the candles. To clean up, just throw away.
In Illinois, USA, they use plastic milk jugs, gallon size, not cartons. Cut it with scissors so that the handle is still there, but only half of the other side -- the top is gone. Put an inch or two of sand or kitty litter or dirt in the bottom, put the candle in, and let them 'shine' I have lived all over the world and paper sacks are not available everywhere.
Use the gallon plastic milk jugs. Cut a flap in the back so you can put in a couple inches of sand. Stick a tealite candle in the middle on top of the sand. Light and it will go out on it's own during the night. Next night put another candle in.
I did this with the youth group at church a couple of years ago. We used the 1/2 gal. plastic milk jugs and I cut them to about 4-5 inches tall leaving the part that has the handle attached. I had the kids each paint one with acryllic washable paints. Then after dry, I painted over them with Modge-Podge to make them have a clear sealer and shine. I put an inch of sand in, then a tea-light candle. We light them and placed on the rock wall of either side of the church steps on the evening of the annual Christmas program. They added a glow to the evening and the kids had fun doing it!
Milk Carton Candles
From Holiday Inspirations
A touch of glitter makes these candles special.
Decorate a mantle with milk-carton
candles and evergreen.
These milk-carton candles update a 1970s craft with a twist: use a taper candle instead of candle wicking. For fun, add a sprinkling of glitter before pouring the melted wax.
What You Need:
Clean half-gallon cardboard milk carton
A pan and a large clean can
10-inch white taper candle
2-1/2 to 3 pounds of wax and 3/4 cup of stearin (to make the wax burn better) or use 2-1/2 to 3 pounds of wax or wax crystals with hardener already added
1. Break the wax into chunks and place it in the can. Pour a few inches of water in the pan, then set the can of wax in the water. Bring the water to simmering and let the wax melt. (To make pouring the wax easier, you may wish to bend the can at the top to form a spout before putting the wax in.)
2. Add stearin to the melted wax. If you're using wax crystals or wax with hardener added, follow the manufacturer's instructions for melting.
3. Partially fill the milk carton with broken ice cubes. Center a taper in the milk carton, then continue filling the carton with ice. Tap the carton on your work surface to settle the ice, then add more ice. Sprinkle glitter over the ice.
4. Let the wax cool to 170 degrees F, then pour it into the carton. As the wax cools and shrinks, add more ice or wax to keep the top of the candle level.
5. After the wax hardens completely, peel the cardboard carton away from the sides. Trim the top of the taper so it's level with the top of the candle, leaving 1/2 inch of wick. If the bottom of the candle isn't level, slide it across an old warm skillet to smooth any rough spots.
Caution: Wax is extremely flammable. Never melt wax directly over heat or to a temperature above 220 degrees F. Never leave melting wax unattended; if it starts to smoke, remove the pan from the heat immediately. If wax catches fire, smother the flame with a pan lid; don't throw water on the flame. Never leave a burning candle unattended, and never burn candles where the flame might come in contact with flammable surfaces or objects.
Oh the memories. I made these with my Mom back in the 1940s. But we didn't use a taper candle, we used a cotton wick wrapped around a pencil that we laid across the top of the carton. Some of them were really beautiful. We would put in a layer of one color, wait for it to harden, and then add the next layer of another color. We gave those as gifts. The failures (ugly colors) were used at home!
I use the half gallon wax cartons that come with juice etc, or the 1qt size (like hold EggNog). I crack ice cubes with the rounded part of the spoon. You want the chunks of ice about the size of 1/6 or a little smaller. You don't want them too big or too small. They form the holes in the candle.
Pour a little wax at the bottom of the carton so you have a solid bottom for the candle. Put the taper (contrasting color is pretty) in the middle, and load up the wax carton. Pour the rest of the melted wax in the carton. Let the ice melt.
When you think the ice is melted, get rid of the water (probably not in your drains, there is wax in it. I pour it outside someplace.).
Carefully peel the wax carton back/off your candle. It will be beautiful and like Swiss cheese. The colored center taper will melt the wax down through the tunnels and holes in the candle. Kids love it. We have some that were decorated 10 years ago, and get out again every year. You can wrap with fabric ribbon, hot glue acorns/pinecones/gold or silver baubles. Very pretty.
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