Grungy candles feature a “dirty,” lumpy surface that often contains spices, charms, beads and even small pieces of candy. The distressed, ultra-handmade look of these candles lends itself well to country-style or rustic chic decor. Though grungy candles normally can’t be burned, you can make grungy candles and light them too by opting for battery-powered candles. Since no flames are involved, you can create your grungy candles with that cozy glow in mind.
Preheat your oven to about 250 degrees F. Smooth a piece of aluminum foil over a cookie sheet and slip it in the oven for about 5 minutes. Don’t push the foil into the corners; the smoother the foil, the better. It also only needs to be large enough to hold your pillar candle while the candle is on its side.
Prepare your “candle grunge” while the foil heats. Flatten a piece of wax paper on a heatproof surface. Sprinkle a thin layer of your spices over the wax paper, creating a trail about as wide as your candle is tall. Make sure whole seeds and cloves don’t cluster. The thinner the layer, the better.
Pull your foil out of the oven. Very quickly roll your pillar candle over the hot foil, melting the outer layer of wax just a little. Immediately roll the candle in the spice trail, then over the hot foil again. You may roll your candle a third time if you like or set it upright on the wax paper to harden.
Chop up about an ounce of wax and put it in an empty coffee can. Normally you’d rinse the can to eliminate residue, but extra coffee grounds won’t hurt anything in this case.
Place the coffee can in a saucepan about half full of water. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat, stirring the wax until it melts.
Scoop a little wax up onto your spoon and drip it down the outside of your pillar candle. The wax will make drips as if the candle has been burned, pulling extra spices along with it. Allow the candle to harden overnight.
Tie a checkered or raffia ribbon around the base of the candle when finished. You may also add a little glitter to your grunge trail for a twist on the country grunge theme. Create a wax “frosting” for your candle instead of a grunge trail. Add your spices to the melted wax and let the wax cool until it forms a thin skin. Whip the wax firmly with a spoon and slather the foamy, grungy wax onto your candle as if you’re frosting a cake. Smooth with a little warm aluminum foil.
Never try to burn a traditional grunge candle. The spices and any glue holding them to the candle will ignite.