Gel Candle Making
Being transparent, gel candle making results in
a mystic beauty when lit. The transparency allows you to use embeds of your
choice making this your own idea of creativity. Beach shells, garden herbs,
butterflies, hermit crabs, starfish… I’ve even seen a mug of beer with foam on
the top. How do they do this?
The process of making gel candles is different from making wax candles. In order
to make gel candles, you need: gel, zinc wicks, fragrance or essential oil,
liquid color dye and your own idea of ‘embeds’ (as long as they are not
flammable). There are gel candle making
kits that might be more useful for kids because everything is included.
Using the utmost care, here are some simple instructions to make a gel candle:
Start with a candle holder. Because of its transparency the preferred
ones are glass. It must have a diameter of at least 2". Stick the zinc wick
to the center of the container's bottom using hot glue and put it aside.
Cut the gel into small pieces and use a multi-cooker to melt it. Stir
the gel with a metal spoon (not wooden). It is advisable to use a
heat-resistant apron, gloves and safety glasses for fire safety reasons.
Keep a chemical fire extinguisher handy... always; gel is more
combustible than wax.
Once the temperature has reached 200 degrees and the gel is smooth and
syrupy, add a small amount of liquid dye. Go sparingly or you will not end
up with transparency. Also - use only gel-candle dye.
If you wish to scent the candle, now is the time for essential oil. Gel
candle making ideas with fragrance depends on the selection of the oil
itself. For example, you can add fruit fragrance for a candle that will show
cherries or grapes, etc.
The fragrance must have a high flash point of at least 170F and should
be non-polar to avoid clouding the gel - so buy fragrances meant for gel
candles only - 1/2 oz of fragrance for 1lb of gel. Density plays a part
here; the more dense, the more fragrance and embeds it will hold but it
takes longer to melt.
Now your gel is ready and you can pour it into the container. If using
embeds at the bottom of the container, place them in first. Place others
near the glass and re-position the wick in the center. Let the candle cool
for at least four hours.
Your gel candle is ready – and now you know how to make gel candles.
I like to clean my seashells and other embeds so that they are free of
any residue by washing them with warm mineral oil before I use them. This will
help keep the gel from clouding and reduce air bubbles.
Esther B Smith, author
We can’t stress enough the safety issues when working with gel as it is more
combustible than other candle making waxes.
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