It took some experimentation but I am now pretty good at making candles from bayberry wax (it's more brittle than other wax). (I'll probably get around to posting my process and pix during 2010 Fall when I get around to making another batch.) Bayberry wax is taken from the bayberry bush, also known as wax myrtle, candleberry, vegetable tallow, wax berry, and a few other names. All you do is collect the berries, boil them until the natural wax coating floats to the surface. Cool and skim the wax. Then, when you're ready to make candles, heat the wax, strain, and pour into the mold with the wick. Actually pretty easy. I make a great Winter Holiday candle with a holly leaf for decoration.
Bayberry bushes like poor soil, slightly (or a lot) acidic. I plan to plant these near the blueberry and cranberry bushes as they too like acidic soil.
I know that it takes about 4 pounds of berries to make 1 pound of wax. This wax can also be used as sealing wax. The berries and bark can also be used for medicinal uses. I heard it can also be used to make soap, but can't find details about that. Anyone?
Anyway... I'm trying to figure out how many bayberry bushes we should plant so that we can supply our family and some friends with candles for each year. The bushes can grow from 5-8 feet tall, and each berry produces seeds that can produce more bushes. But I can't find any info anywhere on how many berries to expect from a bush's first year's harvest, and subsequent harvests.
Does anyone know?
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By the way... happy birthday, mother!