Gel candles – the reason this site exists! We thought it would be kind of complicated to make gel candles, but it’s really not! We’re really glad to be able to teach you how.
You can literally go from knowing nothing to making a gel candle in about 20 minutes, and that includes the time it takes to melt. Here’s how.
What you’ll need
- A pour pot – Starting out, we used a small soup pot with a handle. No need for a double boiler for gel wax!
- Candle making thermometer – This is a really important item. I’ve heard personally of folks who caught their wax on fire because they didn’t realize how hot it was getting.
- Gel wax
- A container
- Wicks – the size depends on how wide your container is.
- Extras (dye, scents, embeds) – You can find colored gel wax, so dyes might not be required. Scents are recommended, but not required. Embeds are the things you’ll want to put in your candle that you can see (shells, stones, etc.).
- Measure out the gel you’ll be putting into the candle. I usually just use my intended container itself. Put the wax then into the melting pan.
- Preheat the oven to a fairly low setting. Mine only goes to 170, so that’s good enough. Put your container(s) in there while you melt the wax. Warm containers help reduce the bubbles. Of course, if you want bubbles you can skip this step.
- Start your pan on a burner at low to medium-low. Our stove has 8 levels, and putting it on 2 gets too hot. Use your thermometer to make sure it hangs out around 200 degrees F. The wax will slowly go from chunks to blobs to liquid. Keep a sharp eye on things.
- When your wax melts, you can add liquid dyes. You don’t need a lot, so play around with ratios.
- Then you can add fragrances. I like a strong fragrance, so I add about 1 teaspoon per cup of melted wax. Your wax will probably have a sort of plastic smell if you get close to it, so scents are nice to add. I’ve noticed that they’re usually stronger once the candle cools.
- Add your wick. If don’t have a pre-waxed wick, dip it in the gel and pull off some of the extra. If your wick has a tab, dip the tab in the gel and then place it in your container, letting the wax solidify. I wrap wicks around a bamboo skewer to keep it straight and centered when I pour.
- Now you can pour your wax! To further minimize bubbles, tip the container (kind of like pouring a beer or soda). The longer it takes to cool, the fewer bubbles you’ll have. We like to put the candles in the oven we preheated the containers with and have turned off by now.
- Trim the wick and enjoy! Congratulations, you’ve finished your first gel candle!
Tips and Tricks
I can tell you with near certainty that you’ll create your first gel candle with many bubbles. They’ll form around the wick and any imbeds you add. It’ll be OK though because you’ll be so excited about having made one.
Here are a couple ways to get rid of the bubbles, or at least make them fewer.
- I’ve already talked about curing the wick. Get some gel on it and slide it through your fingers to get rid of the excess. That’ll help minimize those kinds.
- The longer it takes to cool, the more time bubbles will have to escape. That’s why I keep the oven hot and pop the batch in there for the night. Once the candles go in, the oven goes off, but I keep the door closed. In the morning I have virtually bubble-less candles.
- Pour hotter. I think this sort of has to do with the previous point about taking longer to cool, but it also may be that air has less time to get trapped when it’s more fluid. I still wouldn’t go above 225 degrees F either way.
You’ll find out very quickly that it’s WAY easier to clean up after gel candles than it is any other kind. The gel comes right off of metal items, so your stirring spoons, pots, and thermometers will always be nice and clean. The best part is you can save the scraps for more candles.
If your candle doesn’t come out exactly like you want it, don’t worry! Just start over. Take the gel wax out and melt it again. I’ve even put the whole thing in the oven to melt it inside the container and it worked like a charm. It takes a while, but at 185F it eventually will all but liquify and fill out appropriately. Pro tip: you can remove bubbles this way as well.
Making gel candles is lots of fun because of everything you can do with them. Poke around the site for more tips on embeds and recipes for your gel creations.
Most of all, have fun with it!
I’d love to see your creations! Send me a link or a photo to what you’ve made and I’ll feature it on the site!
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