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Crayons are a household staple, whether you have kiddos or not. Pretty much every American I know, grew up coloring with crayons as some point in their lives. I grew up with a plethora of art supplies, including the big box of Crayola crayons. You know what I am talking about…Macaroni & Cheese, Cerulean blue, Jungle green; a big box of pretty much every color you could imagine. (Cerulean blue and Jungle green are still my two favorites to this day!) I knew, when setting up Syfy's natural homeschool, that the first thing we needed to stock up on were crayons. What homeschool (or any school for that matter) doesn't have crayons? Now you can stock up with homemade crayons made with ingredients from nature.
ALL of my favorite crayons contained petroleum products
A couple years back, when I first started learning more about Waldorf homeschooling, I also inevitably was introduced to natural beeswax crayons. I fell in love with the Stockmar block and stick crayons and bought them exclusively, thinking they were made solely, or mostly, of beeswax. It turns out, though they do have a small amount of beeswax in them (only 10%), they are mostly paraffin wax (a petroleum by-product). I was really disappointed by this because in every shop that I bought them in (Amazon included) they are listed as BEESWAX crayons, but they're not even a quarter beeswax! While they are great crayons and produce fantastic pigment on the paper, I am trying to reduce the amount of petroleum-based products we use in our household, crayons included. Of course, the first thing I thought, was to make my own crayons!
Carnauba wax is the key ingredient to the best crayons
When I sat down to design my crayon recipe, I first thought that I would simply make my crayons from beeswax and whatever I was going to use for pigment, but beeswax by itself is a bit too soft for a crayon, which is why crayon makers love to use harder waxes with it, like paraffin wax. Since I knew I didn't want to use paraffin wax, I decided upon carnauba wax instead. Carnauba wax is a vegetable wax obtained from the leaves of the Brazilian palm tree and is the hardest natural wax available. It's the perfect plant-based wax to replace the plastic-like wax used in all our old favorite crayons. I found solid carnauba wax crayons to be WAY too hard to color with, in a crayon by itself. A mixture of waxes is needed to create to perfect crayon that is hard enough not to melt in your hands but soft enough to leave plenty of pigment on the paper. I found that when I combined the carnauba wax with either beeswax or soy wax, I was able to create crayons that worked exactly how I liked!
Coloring with nature's rainbow
You wouldn't believe how many colors can be produced using natural resources! Everything from plant material to earthen minerals can be made into a pigment when finely ground into a powder. It's very important when grinding your own pigments, to grind them very finely. If they aren't ground fine enough, they will make a gritty crayon! Keep in mind when purchasing your pigments, that you will be able to use them for more than just these crayons! With both mineral and vegetable pigments, you can also make all sorts of paints, including oil paints, watercolors, and gauche. If you want to try using mica mineral pigments instead of herb/vegetable pigments, you can find them here. These are just some of the colors you can use to make your crayons:
- Red – alkanet root powder (this produces a fantastic red color!)
- Orange – annatto (this produces a bright orange), turmeric root powder/alkanet root powder combination (this makes a burnt orange color)
- Yellow – turmeric root powder (this produces a very bright yellow)
- Green – chlorella powder (this produces a dark forest green), spirulina powder (this produces a grass green)
- Blue – cornflowers (produces a light blue pigment)
- Pink – beet root powder (this will only produce a pink hue, but never get dark enough for red), alkanet root powder/titanium dioxide combination
- Black – activated charcoal, soot
- White – titanium dioxide
Homemade Wax Crayons
The color in these crayons can be adjusted accordingly, by adding more pigment to the mix, but be aware that too much pigment powder can cause brittle crayons, so you may want to experiment with ratios to find the right pigment to wax ratio for you. You can make these crayons vegan by substituting soy wax for the beeswax in this recipe! To get stick shaped crayons I used this mold and to get the Waldorf style block crayons I used this mold.
Yields roughly 2 stick crayons or 3 block crayons
- 3 Tbsp. carnauba wax (or roughly 17 g by weight)
- 3 Tbsp. beeswax pastilles (or roughly 25 g by weight)
- Ruby Red – 2
. alkanet root powder tsp
- Turmeric yellow – 2
. turmeric root powder tsp
- Burnt Orange – 1
. turmeric root powder, 1 tsp. alkanet root powder tsp
- Algae Green – 1
. spirulina powder tsp
- Mineral White – 2 tsp. titanium dioxide
- Charcoal Black – 1/2 Tbsp. activated charcoal
- Walnut Brown – 1/2 Tbsp. black walnut hulls
- Ruby Red – 2
- In a double boiler (or a makeshift one using a mason jar or pyrex measuring cup in a pan of water), melt the wax.
- Once completely melted, whisk in pigment using a fork. Whisk until completely blended, with no lumps. To keep the pigment evenly suspended, I like to whisk well just before and sometimes while pouring into the molds too!
- Pour into molds and allow to cool completely before removing from molds.
CLEANING TIP – While the pan/jar/glass is STILL HOT AND WAX STILL MELTED, take a paper towel or napkin and thoroughly wipe the pan out. This is the easiest way to clean the wax from your pans.