Pouring a Simple Gel Candle

Some of the prettiest gel candles I've
seen have been some of the simplest ...
just a pretty glass with pastel-colored gel.
This is the type of candle I like to pour
whenever I have been busy doing other things
(and not making gel candles), as it's the
hardest to mess up! Once you add the
element of adding decorations, embeds, etc.,
you also add to the risk ... not a big deal
if you're in good practice, but if you're
new to making gel candles, or you've put
the hobby down for awhile and are getting
back into it, then a "simple pour," for
me anyway, is the best.

Just start with a clean glass, preferably
one that is not too tall ... shallow glasses
are easier to handle when you're first starting
out, as the wick stays straighter without as
much worry due to the shorter length, you're
not dealing with as much gel as with a larger
glass, and, for burning, shorter, wider glasses
are a bit easier to manage, as you can clip
the wicks without much trouble. Your glassware
should be of good quality.

Then, of course, you'll need some wicking ...
I personally use unwaxed wicking and then
I prime my wicks in gel after crimping them
to the metal wick tab, but you may have
purchased special wicks for gel candles.
You just should not use the "pre-waxed"
wicks which have wax on them, as this
wax can foam up around the wick or
slightly cloud your candle.

It's all a matter of preference regarding
how you purchase your wicks, i.e., if on a
spool, with the tabs purchased separately, or
pre-tabbed and primed. If not pre-tabbed,
you'll need to cut the wicking to an inch
or so longer (higher) than the rim of your
glass ... this gives you enough extra wicking
so you can gently tug on it while your candle
is cooling to keep it straight. I have found
that nail clippers are great for clipping or
trimming wicks. Then, feed the wick into
the hole in the wick tab and firmly crimp
the neck on the wick tab. Believe it or
not, I have purchased pre-tabbed wicks in
the past, only to have them pull out of the
wick tab when tugged upon ... another good
reason why I like to do this myself!

While you are preparing your glassware
and your wick, you may have some gel
melting in your melting pot, which should
be either a double-boiler, crock pot,
"Presto Pot," or a clear coffee carafe
(my melting pot of choice for candle
gel) that is stove top-safe ... over an
extremely low flame or setting, if electric
stove top. (Note: Flame or setting can be
set higher if using double-boiler.)

As mentioned before, I have read that
some people prefer to melt their gel
in the oven. I suppose this is sort of
a seasonal choice ... if it's cold out
and you prefer to use an oven, for
instance, a Pyrex brand (tempered glass)
container is good for this. Since I
usually do not use my oven for melting
candle gel, I am not sure of the setting,
but I am thinking that 200 degrees F.
may be used, checking the gel often ...
I would think that for the most part,
melting gel in the oven would be good
if that's your preferred method, but
then, perhaps near the end of the
melting period, I think that in order
to work with the melting pot (adding
colorant and scent), then switching
over to the stove top may be beneficial.
Actually, I have been known to melt
my gel down in the sun on hot days ...
just until the end, then bringing
into the stove top for the remainder
of the melting ... whatever works
for you the best!

When some of the gel has melted,
you can prime your wick by placing
it in the melted gel just enough for it
get covered in gel ... then, take it out
and set it down on a clean surface
(tile, piece of waxed paper, plate)
to cool, making sure it is straight,
with no bends.

I like to use a metal poultry lacer
for securing my wick in the container ...
I simply dip the wick tab into some
hot gel (holding it by the wick), then
quickly "land" it in the bottom of the
glass, centered, pressing down on the
wick tab in alternate "four corners"
of the round tab to make sure it is
evenly placed and secured.

For beginners, this can take a little
practice ... if it comes undone, simply
take it out, pull the gel off of the tab
and do it again. When done correctly,
after a few minutes, you can gently tug
on the wick and it will remain in place.

Note: the amount of gel you are melting
should be just over the amount required
for the size of your glass ... this will
account for some of the gel which will most
likely remain in the melting pot after you
have poured your candle ... it's always
better to melt a little extra and have some
left over than to not melt enough if you
want your candle to be free of any layers.
For instance, if you have a 3 ounce glass,
melt about 4 ounces or so of gel.

Once your gel has melted and is almost
ready for pouring, colorant can be added.
Liquid colorant is the best to use for
clarity ... wax colorants can be used,
but can upset the "crystal clearness" of
your gel since they are made from wax.
It's important to add colorant a little bit
at a time, and, it's also very important to
take into consideration that the color of
gel in the melting pot often looks lighter
than when it's in a glass! (When the gel
is in the melting pot, it is spread out,
so you are not looking through the same
density as when looking at it in a glass.)
Take a little sample in a spoon and wad
it up to see the real color. I often apply
liquid color by first taking a small piece
of gel and placing a drop or two of color
on it, then adding that piece of gel to my
melting pot. Another method you may
wish to use is to make some small
batches of intensely colored gel ahead
of time, then, when coloring your candle,
simply use little pieces of gel from
the over-colored gel piece ... in this
way, you don't mess with the liquid
colorant at all when making your candle.

If you don't want many bubbles in your
candle, it helps if your glass is warm
when you pour. In this case, warm your
glass and secure your wick closer to the
time when you will pour your candle, as
warming the glass after the wick is secure
can sometimes dislodge the wick, so it's
best if the glassware is already warm and
kept warm for a short period of time before
pouring. Also, you will want your candle
gel to be hot when pouring ... about
200-220 degrees F.

Scent is usually added as the final step ...
just before pouring your candle.
When purchasing your scent, make sure
you are buying "non-polar" scented oil,
which is also marketing as "gel candle
scent." Polar scents are used in wax
candles and may cloud your gel and
are not as safe to use. If you are using a
medium density candle gel, you will use
approx. one teaspoon of scent for a 3 oz.
candle, as this type of gel can hold 3/4 oz.
of scent per pound of gel. (Light density
candle gel can hold 1/2 oz. per pound,
and heavy density, 1 oz. per pound.)

When adding your scent, measure it
based on the proper amount suggested
for the amount of gel you are using ...
you may have to do a little math here,
but once you get used to it, it's easy.
Scent needs to be mixed very well ...
stirring with a metal spoon in a
"figure eight" motion from the bottom
of the melting pot upward, keeping the
spoon below the surface of the gel as to
not create any unwanted bubbles.

Before pouring your candle, make sure
your glassware is on a level surface.
Then, carefully pour your candle.
I don't pour my candles to the rim ...
a matter of personal preference in a
way ... for instance, if I'm pouring into
a small glass, I'll leave about 1/4" to
3/8" at the top, and if a taller glass,
about 1/2" ... if you fill it to the top
of the glass, and there are any surface
bubbles that have created a problem
of any sort, you can pour a little gel
over the blemished area if there is
still room ... if you pour all the way
to the rim, beyond trying to mend
the surface using a heat gun, there's
not as many options for "mending."
Also, plastic wrap can be used to
protect the candle after it has been
made (completely cooled) ... if the
level of the candle is below the rim,
then the plastic wrap will not touch
the gel when stretched across the glass.

Now that the candle is poured:
"Do Not Disturb" ... whatever you do,
don't move your candle, as the slightest
movement will push some gel up onto
the glass, which is very difficult
to remedy. If you see some surface
bubbles arise, you may carefully hold
a lit match near the bubble which will
cause it to pop. A heat gun can be
used, however, this can take some
practice, and if you are new to this,
it may cause a wave of gel to blow
up onto your glass, so do this
with caution.

For few bubbles, cooling on a warm
surface or windowsill can be beneficial ...
as long as it's a level surface.
I personally do not like putting
candles in a warm oven, as moving
them often can destroy them and
sometimes too many big bubbles can
arise and it's harder to reach the
candle to work with it if it's in
the oven. The use of a heat gun
lightly applied to the glass itself
can also help minimize bubbles ...
you just need to watch it closely,
as bubbles will rise to the top
and they will need some heat to
pop and smooth over.

Make sure your wick is straight by
gently tugging on it in an upward
motion ... this may need to be done
again as the candle cools.

When your candle is completely cool,
you can clip the wick to 1/4" and
carefully remove any excess gel
that has accumulated on it.

For finishing touches, a bit of
glass cleaner to remove any smears
on the glass ... perhaps some ribbon
around the glass, etc. Wrapping
can be plastic wrap, tissue paper,
candle topper or other creative ideas
that is an entirely different topic!

Have fun!