There is something so satisfying to me about working with concrete. It's rustic and sophisticated, smooth and nuanced, natural and created, hard as rock and durable, but also delicate and fine, like porcelain. It's complex, and it's taken a good bit of experimenting to get just the effect I'm going for.
Concrete and Cement are often used somewhat interchangeably, but they are not the same thing; rather, cement- generally Portland Cement, which is a common limestone cement (not a brand), is combined with an aggregate to form concrete. Concrete varies from there. In addition to cement, there are endless choices for aggregates. Concrete like the kind that forms dams and highways usually has a big, chunky aggregate, like gravel or even larger stones and chunks of rock. Finer aggregates, like small stones, sand or crushed rock, are used in applications like concrete countertops and more intricate decorative pieces.
All concrete has a curing time, which varies depending on the aggregate used, the ratios of cement to aggregate to water, etc., but for small molds, the time it takes to unmold can be pretty quick because of how fine the aggregate used is. After being demolded, it still needs a good amount of time to cure before sealing.
Sealing is a big topic that I first encountered as I was obsessing over the perfect sealant to use on my concrete pieces- particularly the ones that I want to use as candle vessels or soap holders. I could have saved myself a lot of time if I had read all the blogs first before testing about twenty products myself, but not really because it took all that testing to really convince me.
Concrete is super porous, so it needs to be sealed to not absorb water, oil and wax. I actually don't hate the look of wax creating a patina that changes a piece over time, but that will happen no matter what with use, so sealing for water resistance is my priority- and to keep the pigment in the concrete, which is easier with less water exposure
There are a few factors for the sealant, and, truly, any material I work with. It has to do the job well- I need it to be very fire resistant. It needs to be beautiful, and it needs to be durable, so that it stays beautiful even as it patinas with time and use.
Because it will be near open flame and because I am a human being who loves her lungs and wants to keep them healthy, I mainly tested water based sealers, and only water based sealers for the inside, candle-facing surface. I went for as low VOC and non-hazardous as I could, and ended up with a product that's used to seal countertops and other indoor surfaces. It doesn't chip easily, and candle wax lifts off of it well.
Concrete Art Enclosure:
Certificate of Authenticity for your concrete piece,
Caring for your concrete art:
Concrete is a very durable material, composed of Portland cement and aggregate. Unlike the structural concrete used in industrial and infrastructural applications which uses large rocks, gravel, sand and other crushed and powdered materials as aggregate, ours is a very lightweight mixture that, due to the intricate and small molds we use for home accessories, does not contain bigger, chunkier gravel and stones. Instead, we use sand and crushed/powdered rock, which produces beautiful, rustic, non-toxic pieces that are well suited to home use and should be treated like earthenware or pottery. It is strong and very heat-proof but if dropped or rapidly heated or cooled, it can crack or shatter. Concrete is very resistant to flames and heat, but all concrete will explode at hot enough temperatures. If your piece cracks in shipping or in normal use (not dropped), please contact us for a replacement. This is rare, but due to the nature of natural materials it can happen. We seal each piece's wax facing surface with a water-based, non-toxic Product from the Earth Safe Brand, and a water-based, waterproof, non-toxic finish on the outsides surfaces. Over the course of time and use, the patina of your piece will vary and change color, especially if it's used a lot. Over time, You can polish and re-seal the pieces with Carnauba wax or another non-toxic finish to protect and preserve it if you wish. No matter how durable and safe your candle vessel is, a burning candle must NEVER be left unattended. Even a fire-resistant vessel should be placed on a Heat-resistant surface when burning, as concrete vessels can get hot. hot concrete can cause burns and injury, so please use caution when handling your piece, and allow it to cool before touching it. Candles should not be burned more than two hours continuously in most cases without allowing the wax to cool and re-harden before re-lighting.
Please burn candles carefully and with respect. They can be very dangerous if not handled properly. Green Witch Garden Apothecary is not responsible for any damage caused by candle use, but recommends care and caution be used with every candle you burn. Please go above and beyond with candle safety, and follow the guidelines below with every candle you burn.
1. Never leave a candle burning unattended.
2. Make sure the area around a burning candle is clear of any flammable material, loose materials, curtains, fabrics, papers, etc. Make sure that there is nothing above the candle that can fall on it. Make sure the candle is on a stable, fireproof surface.
3. Place a candle on a fire-proof surface- and preferably more than one. Redundancy is optimal, as almost every material can crack and break. Wax is very flammable. Wood or other flammable materials that are covered in wax are extremely flammable and will burn very hot. We like to burn candles in metal, stone, concrete, marble or cement, or free standing on one of the above. It's a good idea to place the candle vessel on another fireproof surface- as vessels get hot and can fail, so burning with a vessel on a marble board, concrete coaster or other protective item is ideal.
4.Burn candles in well-ventilated areas. Many Intention Candles contain plant materials which smoke clear (smudge), and plant material shouldn't be inhaled. Fresh air is best, and plenty of it. Smart witches protect their lungs ;)
5. Trim the wick of your candle to about 1/8th of an inch, which helps the candle burn properly and not flare or smoke.
6. It's not recommended to burn a candle too long. Your vessel candle will last longer and burn better if you stop it and let it cool every couple hours.
7. Candle Holders get HOT. Don’t touch them until they’re fully cooled to avoid burns and injury. Keep them out of reach or children or pets.