Gel candles are an extremely popular and versatile type of candle. They allow for a lot of artistic possibility. One popular gel candle creation you've probably seen is the "Fruit Preserve." This is where a jelly jar is filled with wax fruit inserts (shown right), then filled with gel. You can even create champagne glasses, beer mugs and other "drink" candle creations with gel. In some respects, gel can be easier to learn with than most candle materials. It's important to know the requirements and properties of gel,
however, before you venture into the process.
Gel, as previously defined by Penreco and now Calumet, is:
A specially selected, processed mineral oil that is gelled with copolymers that give them a clear rubbery texture. Similar to traditional wax candles, clear gel candles are commonly produced from a hydrocarbon base stock.
Instructions for Selecting the Proper Gel
The selection of the proper gel is limited to three different densities. The determination of the proper gel for your application will be dependent upon the type of gel candle you will be making and how much fragrance will be used.
The low density (Candlewic's CG-1) is generally suited for gel candles with 0-3% fragrance loads. Generally, the low density can be poured at lower temperatures, ideally 195°-205°F.
- The medium density (Candlewic's CG-2) is generally suited for candles with 3-5% fragrance. This density is a good gel for embedding many of the wax inserts. This particular gel is quickly becoming the most popular gel.
- The high density (Candlewic's CG-3) is best suited when embedding heavier wax inserts and higher scent loads.
When making gel candles there are no additives needed, and in most instances, anything you add to the gel, including fragrance sometimes, can cloud the finished product.
Safety Precautions for Making Gel Candles
Before making gel candles for resale it is important that you review all of the safety precautions for manufacturing these candles. These safety precautions include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Must use fragrances that are non-polar. (If you are not sure, check with your fragrance supplier)
- Fragrances must have a flash point higher then 170° F
- Proper wick selection is critical. In some instances you may want to undersize your wick. This can create a unique "glowing" effect as the candle burns. It is important to test burn wicks in all your containers.
- A wick assembly should have a wick base that has a 9mm neck.
- Depending upon density, do not go over the recommended percent usage for fragrance.
- Always have burning instructions.
- Make sure gel embeds are not flammable. (It can be surprising at times what objects are flammable.)
One of the most intriguing aspects of the gel candle is its endless ability to create new and interesting designs. The gel candle has brought a whole new level of "art" to candle making. Glass containers filled with "scenes" and other designs make this product as popular as ever.
Want to know more? Check out our Gel Candle Making Tips for Beginners.