It's best to dry the citrus slices a day or two before making the candles. Ice cubes help create the texture and aid in keeping the citrus slices toward the outside surface of the candles. Most supplies are available at your craft store.
• Dried Sunkist lemon and orange slices
• Straight-sided pint, quart or half-gallon wax-coated dairy or juice cartons
• Household wax (paraffin), premium candle wax or glass-fill wax
• (One pound of wax makes a 6 inch high (2 3/4" x 2 3/4") candle in a 1 quart carton. One and one-half pounds of wax makes three 3 to 4 inch high (2 3/4" x 2 3/4") candles in three 1-pint cartons)
• Medium wire wicking
• Wick tabs (optional)
• Pencils or wooden skewers
• Ice cubes
• Dried bay leaves
• Cinnamon sticks and star anise (optional)
To dry citrus slices:
With a sharp knife, slice off one end of each citrus (do as many citrus slices as will fit on wire rack used). Cut each citrus into thin slices, about 1/8 inch thick. Leave any seeds in place. Discard ends. To quicken drying, gently pat slices between layers of paper towels. Lay slices on large wire rack on baking sheet. Dry in oven at 170° F for 4 hours, turning once. Remove from oven; leave on rack to air-dry.
To prepare the carton mold(s) and wick(s):
Cut the top off the wax-coated carton. Candles can be made as tall or short within the carton as desired. Cut the wire wicking about 2 inches longer than the carton is high. (Attach a wick tab, following package directions, if desired, to one end of the wick.) Roll one end of the wick around a pencil and lay the pencil across the top of the carton with the wick centered straight down and just touching (with or without a wick tab) the bottom of the carton. Before the final candle is poured, a small amount of warm melted wax can be poured around the bottom of the wick (or wick tab) and allowed to harden to help hold the wick in place.
To prepare and melt the wax:
With a heavy serrated knife or cleaver, cut or thinly slice wax into small pieces on cutting board covered with brown paper grocery bag(s). Place a small round trivet, flat side-down, in a 2 1/2 to 3 quart saucepan and add about 2 inches of water. Heat the water. Melt the wax in a cleaned, dried one-pound coffee can set on the trivet in the hot but NOT simmering water. Stir occasionally with a clean wooden stick. (Wax can also be melted in special boil bags, following package directions.) Heat wax only until all wax is melted. Do not leave wax unattended. Remove pan from heat and leave wax in water to cool slightly (130° to 160° F.) while assembling ice cubes and decorations in carton mold.
To assemble candle:
Loosely start to fill the carton with ice cubes (keeping wick in center). Position citrus slices, leaves and spices randomly, as desired, touching the sides of the carton and using the ice cubes to help hold the decorations against the sides of the carton. Keep adding ice cubes and decorations to desired height, but not too close to the top of the carton. Pour the warm melted wax over the ice cubes, filling the carton to cover the ice and decorations by at least 3/4 inch. Carefully set aside to cool completely. Remove the pencil. Remove the carton over sink by carefully peeling away the paper carton from the candle. Drain out all water and let dry before lighting the wick