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March 01, 2002

Wax 101 Part 2: Gel Wax


"The En-Light-ener" March 2002
Candle Making Newsletter

As always we truly appreciate the time people have taken to read and respond to our newsletter. We feel this is an important part of our business, keeping our customers informed about developments in the Candle Industry and new candle projects.

For those who are new to our group, you may want to take the time to review the past issues of our En-Light-ener, which can be found on our website. Over the past year we have covered a wide range of exciting topics relating to candle making.

We are now in the middle of our newest series entitled "Wax 101." In the first article of this series we covered the most common product, the paraffin candle and this edition will focus on Candle Gel. We will finish the series in April with the topic of Natural Waxes.

Wax 101 part 2: Gel Wax
The Gel candle is a fairly new product in the marketplace and has achieved wide spread acceptance in a short time period. The general definition by Penreco for Candle Gel 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.

Candlewic is an authorized distributor for Penreco's patented Versagel product line. In some respects the Gel can be easier to learn than most candle applications. However, it is very important when making any type of candle, whether it is paraffin, gel or natural waxes, that all safety requirements are followed when producing candles.

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.

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 at times, can cloud the finished product.

Before making gel candles for resale it is important that you review all of the safety precautions in manufacturing these candles. These safety precautions include, but are not limited to, some of the following:

  • Must use fragrances which 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 9 mm 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 the endless ability to create new and interesting designs and candles. The gel candle has brought a whole new level of "Art" to candle making.

Candlewic is prepared to offer you all of the materials to make your gel candles. Don't miss out on the wonderful sale we presently have on both candle gel and wick assemblies.

A good book that covers many other aspects of gel candles is Gel Candles, How to Make & Market Gel Candles That Sell Like Wildfire!


Q. What is meant by the neck height on a wick assembly?

A. On each wick base there is a neck that supports the wick and holds it in place. In most instances the neck height can run as low as 3 mm to as long as 9 mm. The type of candle and jar being used will determine the neck height. It has always been recommended with gel candles that the 9mm neck be used. Many candle companies have also gone to 6 mm and 9 mm necks for their paraffin candles as well.

Q. How do I select the proper wick?

A. This is an extremely difficult question for any supplier to answer. There are numerous variables that MUST be considered. This includes, but is not limited to the type and diameter of candle being made, the melt point of the wax, additives used, and any fragrance load and color. Candlewic can provide some general assistance, but it is important that all candle makers test their wicks to insure that the correct wick is used for the application.

Q. What is granulated wax?

A. This refers to a process that produces wax that has the appearance of soap powder. This product is very popular for making "instant" candles, requiring no melting of the wax. However, granulated wax can also be melted and poured as any other wax.

Making Crackled Candles
A very unique looking candle is one which has a cracked effect. Similar to mottling, it is where the surface of the candle has been changed in complexion. Making this candle can be easy and frustrating at the same time. Making a candle that can achieve the cracked appearance requires the proper wax and timing of placing the candle in the refrigerator. Due to the refining process, not all waxes will "crack" consistently from batch to batch.

Simply take any pillar candle you are making and pour under normal conditions. During the cooling process take the entire mold and place it in the freezer. The ideal time to do this will vary depending on the size of the mold and the wax being used. At a minimum the wax should be totally set up on top of the mold and the mold is warm to a touch. Placing the candle in the freezer too early will cause the candle to "physically" crack, which is undesirable.

The correct process takes time to learn but the finished candle will be intriguing. We have found that two of Candlewic waxes, 3035 H and the 4045 H to be good for this application.


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