Wax Lanterns

Rita Hill showed how to make wax lanterns to give your home a warm, cheery glow. They can be used indoors or outdoors and they’re wonderful for parties, or for that special romantic dinner.

You will need

helium strength balloons

an old, medium-sized saucepan

1.5kg wax

small handful of stearin* wax

dye tablets

tea lights

*Stearin is a mixture of stearic and palmitic acids used to help harden the wax. It is available from craft stores and costs about $3.50 for 250g.

Making the lanterns

1. First fill a round balloon with water until it expands to about 11 or 12cm diameter. Tie it off.

2. Break the wax into large chunks, place in the saucepan and melt over a low heat. While the wax is melting add the stearin (1 part stearin to 10 parts wax) and a portion of the dye tablet to achieve the colour you want. It can be a bit difficult to judge the colour when the wax is in liquid form, so do a test by dipping a knife or spoon into the wax and waiting to see what colour it is when it dries.

3. When the wax is fully molten remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 4-5 minutes. Carefully dip the balloon in the wax and hold it still for about 1-2 minutes. Remove the balloon from the saucepan of wax and gently place it on a hard surface (preferably some foil covering the kitchen bench). You need to do this while the wax is still soft and warm so that it forms a flat base to stand on. Repeat this process with as many balloons as you can while the wax is still molten. It’s a good idea to dip a few extra balloons, because occasionally one won’t turn out right.

4. To remove the balloon from the wax case, hold it over a sink and, pointing downwards, snip off the top of the balloon with some scissors. As the water empties out, the balloon should come away from the sides of the lantern. Remove the deflated balloon and carefully spoon a few tablespoons of molten wax into the base of the lantern. To light up your lanterns remove tea lights from the metal case, light, and place inside the lanterns. Safety tips: never leave a lighted candle unattended, and always keep hot wax out of reach of children.

Further information

Candle making products are available from craft stores. Rita’s instructions for making wax lanterns are in the July 2002 edition of the Burke’s Backyard magazine, available at newsagents and supermarkets for $4.95.