It's A Gift

…some thoughts about gifts and giving and about life in general

Gel Candles — What about those bubbles?

by admin - June 10th, 2011.
Filed under: Candle-making.

Gel candle-making involves a unique feature that doesn’t usually occur with any other candle medium. You will pretty much always get some air bubbles in your candles, but there are ways to minimize or maximize them, depending on how you want your finished candle to look.
If your aim is to make your candle as clear as possible (meaning few to no bubbles), the first thing you need to do before pouring your candle is to coat your wicks with gel. I cut my wicks to length, attach the wick tabs, then drop them into my heated gel and leave them there until they stop generating air bubbles. I use the longest pair of tweezers I could find to take each wick out of the gel and place it in the container. Any embeds that you want to use should also be dipped in the hot gel before you place them in your candle.

You will want to pour your gel at the hottest temperature you can manage as this will produce fewer bubbles. You should use a candy thermometer to check the temperature, especially if you are new to the art of candle-making. If your gel gets too hot and starts to smoke, shut off the heat immediately and let it cool a bit before pouring.

Bubbles will also tend to appear as the candles cool, so don’t be surprised if what looked like a crystal clear batch of candles last night looks a little “fizzy” in the morning. If the candles do not contain any embeds, there’s a method to fix this. Put your candles on a cookie sheet or other shallow oven-proof pan and place in a cold oven. Turn the oven to 250 degrees F. It usually takes about 30 minutes or so at this temperature for all the bubbles to rise to the top and disappear. Do not open the oven door at this point! Turn oven off and leave the candles there until they are mostly cooled off. If you’re sure that they have cooled sufficiently so that the glass containers won’t crack from thermal shock, you can open the oven and check to make sure your wicks are still straight. This method obviously will not work for layered color candles or those with embeds at various levels. Please note that I am talking about a conventional oven here. Under no circumstances should you ever put a gel candle in the microwave!!

I use the above method for some of my martini candles I can’t use it in making my “classic martini” candle because the embedded “olive” made of oven-baked clay, would drop to the bottom of the glass, pulling the wick out of place, and would also start emitting more bubbles. In cases such as this, the best method is to try to get as few bubbles as possible while making the candles, using the tips above, and to make them up as far in advance as possible. Given enough time, the bubbles will dissipate on their own. I will address the opposite situation in the next post.

34 Responses to Gel Candles — What about those bubbles?

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  29. I need answers. I saw your article about getting rid of bubbles in gel candles without embeds. How about with embeds. I have coated wood and paper articles with gloss spray paint with some success. it doesn’t work that well however. for instance I made some spools of thread and although the gel was not overtaken by the bubbles the bubbles stayed attached to the item itself and still doesn’t look right. It looks like it’s underwater and it’s not and underwater scene. Also when you heat the candles in the oven any suspended embeds fall to the bottom of the candle. Also, from the oven, the craft sand at the bottom of the candle gets “saturated” and doesn’t look good anymore. Any suggestions? Please Help!!!!!!!

  30. That’s a tough one as wood is known to produce lots of bubbles. Coating the items is a good idea, but to take care of the remaining bubbles, the only answer I can give you is “time”. Make your candles a fair amount of time before you will need them/offer them for sale. Cover them to keep out dust and make sure to store them upright and level. Check them every month until the bubbles are gone or at least at a more acceptable level.

  31. Thank you very much for your post. It was the only one so far that offered a solution for air bubbles after the candle has been made. This is my first time at candle making so the probabilities for error are high. I made candles with embeds, an underwater scene, and I followed your instructions in order to remove the inumerable air bubbles that had formed. It appears to have worked great at removing all thr bubbles on the one test candle I tried but found that the wax became somewhat cloudy. Is that normal? Is there any way to prevent that from happening when removing the air bubbles by the method you provide? Thanks so much for your help.

  32. If you are using sand in the bottom of your candle, you may be getting even tinier bubbles and minute debris coming up from that. I’ve also seen some discoloration of the gel caused by dyed seashells. You didn’t mention what your embeds are made of. If there was plastic or wax involved, some of that might have melted and started to blend with your gel wax.

    You might want to try what I’ve done with some of mine. Pour a first layer of gel to just cover your embeds and let it cool. Finish pouring the rest of the candle with the gel as hot as possible to prevent so many bubbles from forming in the first place. Cover the candles and let them sit in a cool place for as long as it takes for candles to clear to an acceptable level.

  33. To remove unwanted bubbles, place candle(s) on metal tray into COLD oven. Turn temperature to 225 degrees. Set a timer for 30-40 minutes, then turn OFF the oven without opening. Bubbles may still be present, but many will disappear after waiting an hour or so. Open oven door and allow to cool all the way before removing.
    My first attempt at using the oven for this was a disaster. My candle became completely cloudy. I believe this is because I left it in a hot oven for too long. I think the bubbles that rose to the surface also brought debris up from the sand and shells in the bottom, clouding the water.
    I have used the above method successfully on 7 candles so far. The method can probably be repeated, but I have not needed to do so. Good luck!

  34. Shelley, thanks for your comment. I really only suggest the oven method for candles WITHOUT embeds, sand, etc. It works very well for me for things like wine candles, although you do have to watch out that the wicks don’t move too much. Sometimes the only thing you can do with complicated candles is to make them far enough ahead that the bubbles work themselves out over time.

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