Gel candles exude a beauty of a different kind, when lit. These transparent candles glow and burn for longer periods, as compared to those made of wax. Gel candles are perfect for decorating your home, or as gifts. If you are conversant with making such candles, you may sell them, as homemade ones are very much in demand. You can enhance the beauty of these candles by adding some unique fragrances; and embeds, like glitter, shells, and glass beads.
In order to make gel candles, you need gel, zinc wicks, fragrance or essential oil, and liquid color dye. Embeds are optional, as they are meant for decorative purposes. You may not get all these materials from a local store. In that case, you can purchase them online, or else, go for a gel candle making kit. Such kits are very much suited for beginners, as they contain everything needed for making gel candles. Ensure that you buy these materials from specialized suppliers. Otherwise, make sure that the materials you buy, are fit for making gel candles.
You should have some sort of container to pour the gel and make the candle. Glass is the best option, as it displays the transparency of the gel as well as the embeds. The container should have a minimum diameter of two inches. If you don't have a glass container, any non-inflammable container will serve the purpose. The same is applicable for embeds too. The materials should not be flammable.
Unlike wax candles, zinc wicks are used in gel candles, because cotton wicks absorb too much gel. These candles are made of gel, which consists of 95% mineral oil and 5% polymer resin. The resin, which is in the powder form; transforms to a more solid state, like jelly, when mixed with mineral oil. The gel comes in three different forms, according to the density - low, medium and high. As the density of the gel increases, it can hold more fragrance and embeds. However, it takes more time for a thicker gel to melt, and pouring a thick gel is difficult, as compared to the lighter types. Unlike paraffin wax, gel takes more time to melt.
Tips to Make Gel Candles
You can make your own gel candles with the required materials and a little patience. But the whole process has to be done very carefully.
- Add some hot glue to the center of the container's bottom. Stick the wick to the glue, and let it set for a while.
- In case you are making a scented wax candle, a double cooker is used to melt the wax, but it will take a long time to melt the gel. Hence, it is better to use a multi-cooker for this purpose.
- Even though, a multi-cooker is attached with a temperature control and heating element, it is advisable to double-check the melting point and pouring temperature with a separate thermometer.
- Cut the gel into small pieces, and let them melt in the cooker (the melting point of gel wax is 180°F). Stir the gel with a metal or hard plastic spoon. Wooden spoons should be avoided, as they can create bubbles in the mixture.
- Make sure that you have a fire extinguisher handy, as the gel is more combustible than wax. The fire extinguisher should be the chemical kind and not the water kind, as water can augment the fire in this case. You must also use heat-resistant apron and gloves, along with safety glasses.
- Check the temperature regularly, and as it reaches 200°F to 220°F (pouring temperature), wait till the gel becomes smooth and syrupy. Add the liquid dye, specifically meant for gel candles. Only a small amount of dye (less than a drop) is used to maintain the transparent look of the gel, and also to make the embeds visible.
- Water-based dyes, paste dyes, and color blocks can't be used for this purpose, as these dyes won't mix properly with the gel, and can make the gel cloudy.
- If you want to make scented gel candles, you can add essential oil to the gel. You can also add fruit fragrances for making fruit candles. The recommended measurement is half ounce for one pound of gel. You can decrease or increase the amount as per the fragrance.
- The fragrance you use, should have a flash point of at least 170°F; and should be non-polar, to avoid clouding the gel. It is always better to make sure that the fragrance is suited for gel candles.
- Now, you can pour the gel into the container. Heat the gel in the microwave for a minute, before pouring it into the container, to avoid air bubbles. If you want any embeds at the base of the container, place them before you add the gel. Pour the gel slowly into the container, and add the embeds. Once the pouring is done, you have to quickly position the wick to the center of the container. Even the position of the embeds can be changed. It is always better for the embeds to be placed near the glass, for a good visibility. Trim the wick, and let the candle cool for at least four hours.