How to Make Gel Candles

By: HowStuffWorks.com Contributors  | 

Gel candles are among the most popular kinds of homemade candles. The method and materials used in making gel candles differ from those used for making wax candles. For example, while both gel candles and wax candles are made from oil, wax candles are 100% oil and gel candles are 95% mineral oil and 5% polymer resin. [source: Johnstan].

Here's what you need to make a gel candle:

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  • Glass or non-flammable container
  • Hot glue
  • Zinc wick
  • Gel wax
  • Stainless steel pot
  • Cooking thermometer
  • Fragrant essential oil
  • Liquid dye
  • Objects to embed in the candle (optional) [source: Turner]

Here's how to make a gel candle:

  1. Put a little hot glue at the bottom center of the container.
  2. Stick one end of the wick into the glue and let the glue harden.
  3. Cut the gel wax into small pieces and melt them in the pot over a medium flame.
  4. Maintain a temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93.3 degrees Celsius), checking the temperature with a cooking thermometer. At this temperature, the gel will melt into a clear, smooth syrup.
  5. Slowly drip dye into the gel until it has the color you want. If you'll be adding embedded objects, use only a little dye so that the objects will be visible.
  6. Add 1/3 teaspoon of fragrant oil for a mild scent. Add more oil for a stronger scent.
  7. Heat the container to around 150 or 160 degrees Fahrenheit (66 or 71 degrees Celsius) in an oven or microwave. This will prevent bubbles from forming in the gel.
  8. Dip any embedded objects in the hot gel and position them within the container. To increase visibility, place them close to the sides.
  9. Place the container on a level surface and slowly pour the gel into the container along the side. To reduce the chance of bubbles, pour the gel while it's still hot.
  10. Straighten wick and roll the free end onto a pencil to prevent it from bending or drooping.
  11. Allow the candle to cool and then trim the wick. [source: Turner].

Originally Published: Jun 13, 2011

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Gel Candle FAQ

What is a gel candle?
Gel candles are 95 percent mineral oil and 5 percent polymer resin.
What kind of wick do you use for gel candles?
Zinc wicks are typically used for gel candles.
What is needed to make gel candles?
To make gel candles you will need a glass or non-flammable container, hot glue, zinc wick, gel wax, stainless steel pot, cooking thermometer, fragrant essential oil, and liquid dye.
How do you add scent to gel candles?
You add scent to gel candles by adding a fragrant essential oil.
How much fragrance do you put in gel candles?
It's typically recommended to add 1/3 teaspoon of fragrant oil for a mild scent, but you can add more oil for a stronger scent.