The process to make gel candles is quite simple. You melt the gel wax and pour it into the container of your choice into which you’ve placed a wick, fragrance, colorant and any embedded objects. Let the wax set and you have a gel candle. As is most things that seem easy, there’s more to it than that. Below are the things you need to know in order to have creations that will bring a smile to your face.
Make Gel Candles
The wax – gel wax is different than that of regular candle wax. It’s made of mineral oil into which a polymer is added. This process creates a long burning, low flashpoint wax. There are several manufacturers of gel candle wax. The most noted is Versagel a trademark patented by Penreco Corporation. However, Yaley’s makes a good gel wax.
The fragrance – Not all fragrances are compatible with gel waxes. There are compatibility tests you can perform, but it’s much simpler to buy a fragrance that you know will be compatible. For instance, if you buy Yaley’s wax, the company makes fragrances they know will work with their wax. If you buy Versagel, you will need to test for compatibility. This is very important since fragrance oils lower the flashpoint of the gel. You will need to use a non-polar fragrance oil with a flash point at 170 F or higher.
Penreco recommends if you use their low density wax; add fragrance to no more than 3% or ½ ounce per pound of wax. For their medium density and most popular gel, the concentration should be no more than 5% or ¾ ounce per pound. Their high density gel allows you to use the most fragrance 6% or one ounce per pound. Yaley’s gel is a low density wax, so you will want to go no higher than 3% for their gel wax.
Colorants – Like fragrances, not all colorants are compatible with gel waxes. They must be 100% oil soluble. All of Yaley’s colorants are compatible with their wax. Once again, if you are using another wax, you will need to test for compatibility.
If you are embedding objects, keep the color lighter or your objects won’t be seen. If you use a stove safe glass container to melt your gel wax, it is easier to judge the correct color density.
Embedded objects – Embedded objects should be very clean, dry and non-flammable. Many people like to use small seashells embedded when they make gel candles. If you’re one of those people, clean the shells very well to make sure the shells are completely free of salt. Salt will cloud your gel candles.
Wick – Gel candles require the right wick.
Equipment you will need
- Container to melt wax. Don’t melt wax in microwave. Use your stovetop or a hotplate.
- Thermometer – Thermometer should be able to read up to 230 degrees F.
- Wicks – zinc wicks are often used, but they tend to mushroom. HTP, RRD and LX wicks work well. Pre-tabbed wicks are best to use. You can hide the tab with sand or pebbles.
- Containers for your candles – The containers for your candles can be most anything you choose as long as the opening at the top is sufficiently large to allow heat to escape. You might choose beer mugs, tea glasses, Champaign glasses, votive glasses or any other glass resistant to shattering when heated.
- Colorant – optional
- Fragrance – optional
- Embedded objects – optional
Instructions for how to make gel candles:
- Melt wax on stove to 220 F. It will be syrupy.
- Remove from heat
- Add colorant a small amount at a time until desired color is attained
- Add fragrance. Stir fragrance for two minutes to assure it’s well mixed
- Allow mixture to cool to 185-203 F (Cooler temperatures will produce fewer bubbles than higher temperatures.)
- While mixture cools add wick and embedded objects to candle holder. You can use a Popsicle stick across candle container to help hold wick upright.
- Pour cooled wax into container(s) and allow gel to continue cooling until firm
- Cut wick to ¼ inch above gel (short wicks are important in that they don’t create too much heat.
Tip: If too many bubbles are in your candle, heat candle in oven at a setting of 150 F. You can also place the candle on a windowsill and let the sun do the job.
- Keep wick cut to ¼ inch above wax
- Don’t burn wax to more than ½ inch above the bottom of your candle holder
- Never leave a gel candle or any candle unattended
- Take care when you have children and pets. Gel candles can give a child who tips the hot wax onto himself a mean burn.
- Inspect candle before lighting to be sure the container is not cracked
- Avoid using the gel candle in drafts which send the flame sideways. This can create hot spots and burn wax faster.
- Never carry a burning gel candle while lit. An accidental spill can cause a bad burn.
There, now you know how to make gel candles. These are so much fun to make and absolutely awesome as gifts. If you’ve made them before, send us some pictures. We would love to see your creations.
Now go have fun and relax.