Sorting it all out - Part II

I have a few more jewels I would like to share
on the "misinformation topic" ... the first one
being that I recently read that one way to
minimize bubbles in your candle gel is to
either place your melting pot in the oven or
your microwave. This article neglected to
add any information in regard to temperature,
or time. I would just like to say that if your gel
is already in your melting pot ... simply keep it
there and pour your candle at a temperature of
approx. 200-210 degrees and allow it to cool
in a warm place ... a sunny window can often
be a good place if the weather is on the warm
side, or on top of a warm oven ... just make sure
these places are level. As far as "in the oven" ...
I will offer some more on this later ... but, in

regard to "in the microwave" ... do not ever use
the microwave in any way, shape, or form when
melting candle gel.

There is some awful "information" out there
and in some cases, I seriously doubt that the writers
have any hands-on experience with making gel
candles ... in some cases, they may likely be
suppliers of other candle supplies, writing articles
simply to widen their reach out into the Internet in
attracting customers. Of course, there is nothing
wrong with doing that, but, in my opinion, the
information should be checked out, or even better,
personally experimented with and tested so that the
vast majority of information that is shared is good
and safe advice / information.

Some of these instructions are not hazardous
to candle making, they just may not be methods
which provide positive, or the most positive
results, but, some of the advice can be dangerous.
For instance, I discovered the following:
Gel doesn't need a wick tab, so just tie the wick
to a stick and set it on top of the container.

I have NEVER seen any instruction that states that
gel candles do not require a wick tab ... to the
contrary ... all information I have ever read says
that it must have a wick tab. And, in my own
experience, I would say that in order to make a
safe candle, that all gel candles should not only
have a wick tab, but should also have a wick tab
with a longer stem (or neck / collar) than typically
used with wax candles, which is crimped at the top
portion of the stem (neck) to prevent the candle
from burning to the very bottom of the glass.

With the use of non-polar scents, which are a
type of scented candle oil used in gel candles
that do not sink to the bottom of the gel ... polar

scents can concentrate at the very bottom of the
candle and ignite when the flame reaches the bottom.
With non-polar scents, the longer stems are not quite
as necessary, but they are still safer to use, especially
if you have used glitter in your candle, as some of the
glitter may sink to the bottom and if the candle burns
down to the very bottom, the glitter could then begin

to burn. Speaking of glitter ... here is another comment
I found, "Make a glitter candle ... use extra fine glitter
and add it to the wax before pouring." ... As I mentioned
previously, best to manage where the glitter goes,
and, extra fine glitter is most likely to clog the wick,
depending on the type of glitter. I was happy to see
this same article state (in regard to glitter):
"A little goes a long way."

Some of this advice is harmless, but I'm not quite
sure why it is stated and some of it doesn't exactly
make any sense to me ... for instance ...

"Use some of the melted gel to prime wicks and

to coat any embeds you want to use ... leave the
embeds in the gel until the bubbles stop, and throw
away that gel ... use tweezers to remove the
embeds ... place the coated embeds into the
container and place the wick."

Gee ... that's quite a paragraph there! First of all,

let's define "embeds" so we know what we are
talking about. I think this article is referring to
such things as shells, glass decorations, etc.,
and not shaped wax embeds, but I can't be sure,
but perhaps that's why it says to "leave the embeds
in the gel until the bubbles stop" ...
I am guessing that was this is referring to are

shells with an inner chamber ... in essense, it
is telling you to fill the air gap in the inner chamber
of the shell. As far as throwing away any excess gel,
I don't know why you would do that. I also don't
know why you have to handle the embeds with
tweezers after the gel has cooled ... and, when
decorating a container with shells such as this,
your wick gets mounted into the container
first and then your gravel, sand, embeds,

etc. are added.

Here's a dandy ... "Let your gel candle cool completely
and trim the wick to 1/16 of an inch before burning."
... I'm personally not so sure this candle is going to

burn with a one-sixteenth of an inch wick ...
ever clip a candle too close? Then you know
what I'm talking about.

Perhaps some folks have success in using strings for

positioning embeds, but I'm not sure that this is the
method: "Make floating embeds ... tie objects to
string and tape the string to the outside of the container
or tie to sticks over the container ... cut strings and remove
when the candle is cool." First of all ... in my experience
anything that you put into the gel before cooling is going
to be there after cooling and anything you do to try to
change that is going to put marks, creases, etc. into
the gel ... so how does this work anyway? There are a
few methods I like to use for floating embeds, but this
is not one of them. One that is the an easy way for
beginners is to use a "chunk candle" type of method,
allowing some candle gel to be built up in the bottom
of the candle and positioning shells, marbles, etc. on
top of the chunks, then pouring gel over the entire
design ... the gel chunks will hold up the embeds.
This method may have a lot of bubbles, as the chunks
have a way of creating bubbles since the candle is
not as hot due to their presence, but for a beginner,
it is a pretty easy method to work with.

Okay, here's another nice example of being led

down a wrong direction, ... "Make a jelly or drink
candle ... use a mason jar or drink glass and use
paraffin wax fruit pieces or paraffin cut into
chunks as ice cubes ... color the gel and
pour it over the wax embeds at a low temperature."

First of all, in order to successfully use wax

embeds, they need to be created with a high
meltpoint wax ... I prefer using hurricane wax
for this with a 165 degrees F. meltpoint ...
they can take the hot gel a little better and your

chances of them bleeding or melting is a bit more
minimal ... however, you still need to consider them,
as if they get too warm, they too can melt.
So, the meltpoint of the wax is very important.
An additional note regarding the "ice cubes" ...

I have found that these come out looking more
realistic if you make small squares ... not
full-sized cubes ... and dip them into clear gel
so they get a nice thick coating on them, allowing

them to cool, then using them as your ice cubes.
This creates ice cubes that look as though they
are melting and also creates space between
them within the glass.

Finally, I will end with this bit of information I read:
"Make a layer gel candle ... pour clear gel and let

it cool completely ... pour colored gel on top of
that and stab the lower layer with a knife ...
the hot color gel will seep into the clear gel making
streaks of color ... you can also use a turkey
baster or syringe to inject hot gel into a cool layer."

From my experience, this is not how to make a

professional layered gel candle that is "seamless" ...
I am going to offer more information about this in a
future post, but I will say that the cooled gel layer
could end up creating so many bubbles that it could
actually ruin the effect, esp. after having been
"stabbed" ... and, as for trying to suck up hot gel
into a turkey baster and insert it into the candle ...
I believe this to be a rather dangerous thing to try ...

I've never attempted this, as I don't wish hot gel to
come flying out of a turkey baster onto my arm or
all over the counter ... not sure about the syringe,
perhaps some people have had luck with this,
but also, it is not a method I've ever attempted.
A layered candle is not a "streaked" candle, so
I think this article was a bit confusing that way ...
usually, a layered candle is thought of as a
candle with different colored layers.
As for creating streaks within a candle, this can
be done in a similar way as swirls, with liquid
colorant and a metal pick, by rolling the pick
into some dye and then into the gel ... if you
want lots of fluid movement, do it when the
candle is still very hot ... if you want more of a

solid, "frozen" look ... wait until the candle is
somewhat cooled down. With the latter method,
your candles surface is most likely going to need
a few moments under a heat gun to level it
out a little.

This brings me to one last point here ...

that being the use of a heat gun ... even if mine is
on the low setting, it's best used at a safe enough
distance from the candle so it doesn't splash the gel
around ... they can take a little practice using,
as you really don't want to cause a wave of gel
to get onto the glass above where the surface
of your candle is going to be ... this looks very

messy and it's very hard to rectify this if this
happens, beyond adding more gel to your
candle to bring the level of the candle up a bit
to try to cover it up, although also, you don't
want to do this to such a point as to fill your
glassware too much, as you most likely would
like to seal your finished candle in plastic wrap
and this is best done if the candle is filled
so that there is at least 1/4"-1/2" of space

between the rim of the glass and the contents.

All of these "little" finer points in gel candle

making are what make the difference between
a well-made, polished candle and a sloppy candle.
I like my candles to look nice. If you think about
your design a bit before trying to create it, you'll
find that you will stop to consider these finer points.
It may take a few tries to know what to look for,

but that's why, in my experience, with any design
I've ever come up with, that it takes making about
two to three candles for myself (as well as
test-burning, which you should always do with
any new design) before making one to sell or
give as a gift ... that way, you know for a fact

that your design works well ... it's not just the
design idea and concept that creates the candle ...
it's also the experiment and the experience ...
in other words, the fun!