Burn Baby Burn
What’s the secret to making the perfect candle? Using the right-sized wick.
“It has to be the proper size to accommodate the size of the candle,” says long-time candle-maker Nonie Bauer. “If the wick is too small, it won’t consume the wax and drips. If it’s too large, it consumes too much wax and smokes.”
Bauer gets it just right. The candles she makes and sells at the Union Square Greenmarket every other Saturday are “no drip.”
And they’re 100 percent beeswax, so they burn longer. Small $4 ball candles in orange, lime and gold burn for 15 hours. Seven-inch stick candles, selling for $2 apiece, burn for five.
Bauer makes everything from tea lights to votive candles and an assortment of beeswax ornaments, including angels, pompadours and beeswax-coated pine cones.
The expert candle-maker sells her products alongside her husband, Walter, a beekeeper and owner of Twin Spruce Apiaries, a family business dating back to the early 1940s. He sells jars of dark pure raw honey that range from $5 to $12.
“I married into the business,” says Bauer. After she got married, her mother-in-law, eager to make use of all the honeycombs left over from the beekeeping business, bought a book on candle-making, but never made a single candle. Bauer, though, took an interest and mastered the art of candle-making.
“I learned by trial and error,” says Bauer, who has been making beeswax candles for 25 years.
Twin Spruce Apiaries—located in Climax, N.Y., in the foothills of the Catskills about 135 miles north of New York City—was founded by Walter’s father, Wolfgang, a determined German immigrant who reluctantly gave up being a metallurgist and his beloved foundry after losing an arm. He decided on beekeeping as his new line of work, even though people told him he couldn’t be a beekeeper with just one arm. The “one-armed beekeeper”—as he became known—proved them all wrong.
The business prospered and endures. Today Twin Spruce Apiaries has 500 hives, producing honey and enough beeswax to keep thousands of candles burning.