Guest Author - Benito Lugo
Gel wax candles have become increasingly popular over the last several years. Gel wax is produced from mineral oil a hydrocarbon. Penreco is the owner of the patent process for gel wax and sells it under its trademark name VersaGel.
There are 3 grades of VersaGel: CLP grade (Low density), CMP grade (Medium density), CHP grade (High density)
The mineral oil is mixed with a special Polymer (chemical compound with high molecular weight) to thicken it, making a clear slow burning candle making product. It burns about twice as slowly as ordinary wax with a smaller flame. Maintaining your wicks length is most important with Gel wax candles, thus keeping them burning properly. Gel wax has a higher melting point than conventional wax products, melting at 180 to 220 deg F it must be melted over direct heat such as a Presto pot. Having a higher melting point and melting slower than ordinary wax, patience is a virtue when working with it. Gel wax also requires a size larger wick than a typical candle the same size, test your wick size before making multiple candles. Since it is melted over direct heat it must be watched closely and never left unattended.
One of the attractions to using gel wax is since it is transparent it allows the candle maker to use embeds and limitless ways to create an illusion of something you wish to portray. It's clarity and thickness allow items to be suspended and transparency adds a glow to your candles. Gel wax can hold almost the same amount of fragrance oil as a traditional wax and uses most of the same kinds of candle fragrances. Only oil soluble or non-polar fragrance oils may be used with gel candles. Always check with your supplier.
Oil soluble or liquid candle dyes work best with Gel wax. A little goes a long way so add color slowly to achieve the desired effect. You'll be surprised. Using embeds it is important to make sure that the embedded product is non-flammable and won't melt easily.
Gel wax candles can add an interesting change and creative challenge for the candle maker, so when your ready give it a try. It's fun, different and easy.