HOW TO WORK WITH GEL CANDLES AND THEIR EMBEDS
I’m aware of many readers and our shared love of candlelight. Even the flame of a dollar store candle is drawn to the human eye. Some people enjoy crafting gel candles at home. If you are one of these people, you might already know about gel candles. However, I was a candle lover who just learned about them and their beauty and versatility. It’s an easy craft and a great way to become known and loved for your crafty candle gifts!
Gel, when melted, is transparent. This means you can add other elements to the gel (besides fragrance and color) that appear in the candle. Anyone with a little imagination can envision gel candles that contain glass, ceramic and other non-flammable items displayed in them.
I don’t recommend making gel candles unless you’ve done it before or you are willing to pay close attention to safety precautions that come with the gel. The gel seen above comes in hard form. I like this gel, but you’ll have to work at getting it out of the container.
Melting the gel will take time. Patience is very important! You must keep the gel at the recommended temperatures in the directions. It is recommended that one keep a large supply of baking soda on hand (for putting out fires) and a spare fire extinguisher, available here:
It’s very important to watch the temperature of the melting gel. It must be kept at a low heat and melt slowly, because gel has a flashpoint temperature at which it will burst into flames. The melting gel can do this very quickly. It is NOT recommended you leave the room or become impatient during the procedure. It requires patience and attention to detail.
Stir the melting gel with a metal utensil, the gel could melt plastic spoons – but it will NOT ignite a paper towel you rest your metal spoon on.
Precaution: The gel will need time to melt properly at the low temperatures required by the manufacturer’s instructions. I would suggest not even taking a quick phone call while you are engaged in this process: It is surprisingly easy to become distracted and it only takes a second or two for disaster to strike.
Once the gel is melted and removed from the heat source, it will cool very quickly – so quickly, in fact, that if you intend to pour multiple candles from one melt, it is recommended that you place the gel back on the heat to test after each pour – gel can cool 50 degrees in the time it takes to pour one gel candle!
The temperature of the gel at pour time affects how many ( or how few) bubbles you get in your finished candle. The hotter the gel, the more bubbles will occur. If you prefer your gel candles without bubbles, then place the candle in a 175 degree (F) oven. Once it melts, you can stir the bubbles out.
One appealing aspect of gel candle making is the different effects that can be achieved by experimenting with the bubbly aspect of the gel. It lends itself to different textures.
I grew to be attracted to gel candles because of their aability to be unique. Gel candles can be made with many things embedded in the gel. This creates stunning effects when poured into transparent holders like bell jars, champagne flutes, beer mugs, brandy snifters and jam and jelly jars, to name just a few.
Even martini glasses ( straight up!) can be used to hold gel candles: for a great effect, place an wax embed shaped like an olive in the bottom of the glass. Place a toothpick on the side, secured with tape and add a wick – voila! You have a martini glass gel candle for a gift, party favor or your own enjoyment.
I became involved thinking about all the things that could be used to personalize or just decorate any gel creation: glass beads, non-flammable fabric, pictures even small metal objects can be used to create a gel candle. All you need to do is suspend the bead, shell or other object with sewing thread. Wind the thread around a pencil several times, then susepend the pencil over the top of the container when pouring melted gel. The object will appear “suspended” in the completed candle.
WICKS NEEDED FOR GEL CANDLE MAKING
For use in gel candles, zinc-cored wicks or wax coated wicks are the best choice. They burn well and are stiff enough to be inserted into a poured gel candle. NEVER USE PAPER WICKS IN GEL CANDLES!
Tabbed wicks are those that have a metal tab glued to the bottom of the wick. These are great for use in gel candles. They are also easily available:
If you choose not to use tabbed wicks, the wick you make should never reach down to the bottom of the holder. Always be sure to leave 1/2″ gap between the bottom of the candle holder and the end of the wick, if not tabbed. If you use tabbed wicks, the tab will protect the bottom of the chosen candle holder.
Wick maintenance is vital when one burns a gel candle, If the wick, before being lit, is longer than 1/4″ from the top of the candle, you must trim the wick. Burning a wick that is too long will cause soot to gather at the top of your chosen candle holder. Always trim the wick, before lighting the candle each time, because you don’t want burned wick to get into the beauty of the gel or its’ container. Soot and burned candle wick will greatly diminish the candle’s attractiveness and negatively affect the beauty of the candle light. To extinguish, always use a candle snuffer::
Gel can be fragranced by adding 1 or 2 drops of your favorite essential oil into the melted gel. You can add color to your candles by adding any dye that is safe for wax candle making. NEVER USE FOOD COLORING IN GEL CANDLE MAKING.
Remember there are wax embeds that can be added to gel candles to create special effects. Colored sand can be layered with melted gel for special designs. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
If you are ever dissatisfied with the results of a gel candle that you have made, remember that the candle can always be placed in an oven at 175 degrees (F) or 79 degrees (C) for several hours until melted down completely. Gel is completely recyclable. Just add the unused gel back in with the hardened stuff in the container you bought it in.
I hope you all try your hand at gel candle making. It is not difficult and with just a little patience, attention to detail and creativity, you can find yourself able to customize candles for yourself and your friends.
Think of the things you could use in a transparent candle, scented or unscented. Colored marbles, ceramic and glass ornaments can be displayed in the gel, as well as soda or beer bottle caps – jewelry or other small pieces (spare nuts and bolts – for the man in your life!) can be suspended with sewing thread and embedded in your candles. Even wax embeds, in the shape of food, are available, as discussed above.
Use chunks of lightly colored wax embeds at the bottom of a gel candle. Gel candles can be poured into all types of glass and other, transparent containers. Control bubbles by placing embeds in a small amount of melted gel in a shallow glass, before placing in your candle design. Allow the embed to bubble, thus reducing the bubbling upon placement in the candle gel.
I hope you all communicate with me. I would love to hear about your experiments and crafts gone wild with transparent gel candles. My site is always under construction, so check back regularly for new blogs. Please be sure to leave any comments also. Thanks for reading!
Rankin, Chris (2001), Gel Candles; Creative and Beautiful Candles to Make, Lark Books, ISBN 1-57990-216-2