Instead of tossing that elegant but empty wine bottle into the recycle bin, upcycle it into a decorative holder for a taper candle. The mouth on the bottle may already fit taper candles you have around the house, but if the opening is too narrow, a slight adjustment to the candle itself ensures a stable, secure fit.
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Selecting the Bottle
While any intact wine bottle can be used as a candlestick or candle holder, choose one that has an unusual color or shape for added visual interest. A cobalt blue bottle, a long, narrow ice-wine bottle or a bulbous Chianti bottle are all attractive options. Select a bottle with an average opening, rather than, say, a 1-gallon wine bottle with a wider-than-typical mouth. Wide-mouthed bottles are equally able to support candles, but you may have a hard time finding a candle that fits the opening snugly. Rinse the inside of the bottle out thoroughly, or soak the bottle in warm, soapy water to both clean it and remove the label. Scrub the label residue away with a nylon scrub pad. Do not soak a Chianti bottle, because the moisture may damage the straw on the outside.
A Perfect Fit
Select a straight taper candle and push the bottom of it into the mouth of the dry wine bottle. If you can push the candle into the bottle at least 1/2 an inch and it fits securely as-is, without wobbling, no modification is necessary. Typically, the candle requires a slight bit of trimming to fit inside the mouth of the bottle. Slice bits of wax from the candle over a sheet of paper to catch the wax shavings. A sharp paring knife works well. Hold the taper candle in one hand, and then press your thumb against the bottom of the candle while drawing the paring knife toward you slowly and carefully. Rotate the candle, shaving thin bits of wax from the bottom 1/2 inch or so of the candle, angling your work toward the center of the candle's bottom. Once you've removed wax all the way around the candle's base, press the bottom of the candle into the bottle. It should fit snugly, without wobbling. Slice more wax off as needed. If the candle fits without trimming any wax away, light the candle, and then drip some onto the mouth of the bottle, pushing the candle base into place quickly. The wet wax helps adhere the candle to the bottle.
Using the Candle Holder
Push the candle firmly into the bottle opening, if you haven't already. Wiggle the candle to ensure it stays completely vertical, otherwise wax may drip onto the table holding the bottle. Set the bottle candle holder atop a fireproof tray, and then set the tray in a safe location away from flammable materials such as curtains. Light the candle and observe it over time to determine whether it drips, and if so, how much. Taper candles vary greatly from one to the next -- some may drip little, if at all, while others burn down quickly, resulting in a pool of wax beneath a candle stump. Don't leave lit candles unattended.
Some candles are designed to drip wax -- lots and lots of wax. Drip candles look like taper candles but melt with a vengeance. These are ideal for creating layers of wax over the sides of a bottle such as a Chianti bottle. Drip candles come in a variety of colors; start with one color, light it and allow it to melt a good deal of wax on the bottle, and then put the flame out. Swap the candle for another color once the first candle cools, and repeat the process. Specialty drip candles contain several colors all within the same white shade for an even simpler process. If a drip candle seems to drip over the same area of the bottle repeatedly, wiggle the candle to change its angle slightly, or tip the bottom of the bottle at a slight angle for a moment to get the wax flowing onto another area. Always use a nonflammable, nonvaluable pan or tray beneath your drip candle bottles, because the wax may leave behind quite a mess.