Which is better: gel candles or wax candles? It’s a question that has plagued man for centuries and still does to this day. Some people swear by the delicate, almost ethereal beauty of a gel candle flame, while others find the hard waxen surfaces of traditional candles more appealing.
If you’re someone who’s looking to get into the world of candle-making, you might be facing the same conundrum. So, which one do you go for?
Gel candles are considered to be better than wax candles due to their long burn time, cleaner-burning, and more vibrant colors. They can also be decorated with all kinds of objects, like shells and stones. And although gel candles are much more expensive to make, they offer a lot more value for your money in the long run.
However, it’s not all black and white as it seems. Each type of candle has its own unique benefits that might make it a better choice for you, depending on your needs. In this post, we’ll explore the pros and cons of both gel candles and wax candles so that you can make an informed decision and choose the perfect candle for your home.
6 Key Differences Between Gel Candles and Wax Candles
Let’s take a look at some of the key areas in which gel candles and wax candles differ:
1. Material Used
The most obvious difference between these two types of candles is the material used. Gel candles are made from a base of mineral oil and polymer resin. This combination gives the candle its distinctive jelly-like appearance.
On the other hand, traditional wax candles are made using paraffin wax, beeswax, or soy wax. Paraffin wax is the most commonly used type of wax for candles as it’s the cheapest to produce. While beeswax and soy wax are natural materials, paraffin wax is a by-product of the petroleum refining process.
One of the most noticeable differences between gel candles and wax candles is their appearance. Gel candles are usually transparent or translucent, while wax candles are opaque.
You’ll also notice that gel candles need a container to hold them since they’re too soft to stand on their own. Wax candles, on the other hand, can be solid and self-supporting.
When it comes to candles, there’s no difference more important than incandescence. This is the ability of a candle to emit light under heat. And in this respect, gel candles definitely have the upper hand.
Gel candles produce a brighter, more vibrant light than wax candles because they’re made from a clear material. The light is able to pass through the gel, amplifying its brightness.
Note – Did you know that gel candles are almost 40% more incandescent than the average wax candle? This is due to the clarity of the gel that far surpasses that of other waxes.
4. Burn Time
Another area where gel candles outshine wax candles is in burn time. Gel candles can last up to 100% longer than traditional wax candles.
This is because gel candles have a lower melting point than wax candles. This means that they don’t vaporize as quickly, so they continue to burn for a longer period of time.
Wax candles are definitely considered more versatile than gel candles. While gel can only be used to make container candles, wax can be used to make candles in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
Just take the example of paraffin wax. You have tons of options when it comes to paraffin wax candles – pillars, containers, votives, tealights, tapers, tarts, and more! It’s truly the jack-of-all-trades!
Finally, we come to the price. Gel candles are definitely more expensive to make than wax candles. Although gel and paraffin wax are both made from petroleum by-products, gel requires special equipment and materials that aren’t required for making paraffin.
Here’s a price comparison – Paraffin wax costs around $10.5 per kilogram, whereas gel can cost anywhere above $16 per kilogram. For this reason, many candlemakers, especially those that are just starting out, choose to use paraffin wax instead of gel for their candles.
What Candle Should I Go With – Gel or Wax?
Now that you’ve seen the key differences between gel candles and wax candles, it’s time to ask yourself which one is better for you.
If you want something that will give your home a softer, more romantic look, then gel candles are probably the way to go. If you’re more interested in functionality and durability, then wax candles are probably a better choice.
We recommend that if you’re new to candlemaking, you start with wax candles. They’re cheaper to make and more versatile. Once you’ve mastered the basics of candle making, you can then move on to gel candles (if you want).
Whichever type of candle you choose, always remember that the end result is a combination of many different factors (including your skill and craftsmanship!) and not just the type of wax you use. So don’t be afraid to experiment until you find the perfect combination for you!
What Other Types of Candles Are There?
Did you know that within wax candles themselves, there are different types of waxes that you can use? Here’s a table showing all the popular ones for you to experiment with!
|Soy Wax||Palm Wax||Beeswax||Rapeseed Wax||Coconut Wax|
|Description||Natural wax is made from processed soybean oil. Burns cleaner than most other types of waxes||Made from the leaves of the carnauba palm, native to Brazil. Also called ‘The Queen of Waxes’||Perhaps the oldest type of wax, this is the natural wax made by the honey bees of the genus Apis.||A form of vegetable wax made with hardened rapeseed oil and a small amount of additive.||Made from cold-pressed coconut meat or coconut oil. Often considered one of the best and healthiest waxes.|
|Color||White/Beige||Yellow||Yellow or Brown||White/Beige||Bright White/Creamy|
|Melting Temperature||120°F to 180°F||180°F to 187°F||144°F to 147°F||109°F||100°F|
|Price (per kg)||$17||$16||$21||$10.5||$35|
Frequently Asked Questions
Take a look at some of the most common questions that people have about gel candles and wax candles.
Q.1. How long do gel candles burn compared to wax candles?
Gel candles that weigh around 8-ounces will burn for approximately 100 hours. Wax candles of the same size will burn anywhere between 40-50 hours.
Q.2. Which is the most eco-friendly candle?
Beeswax candles are the most eco-friendly candles as they’re 100% natural. Our ancestors have been using beeswax since prehistoric times, so you can be sure that it’s safe for you and the environment.
Q.3. What’s the most popular type of wax used in candles?
The most popular type of wax used in candles is paraffin wax. This is because it’s a very versatile wax that can be used to make all sorts of different types of candles. Plus, it’s also very affordable.
Gel candles vs wax candles – it’s been a battle of the ages! In this article, we’ve done a full deep dive into the key differences between these two types of candles (along with a couple more!). Hopefully, this has helped you to decide which type of candle you need to work with.
Although candle-making may not always be the easiest hobby out there, it’s definitely a fun and rewarding venture. So don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of waxes and wicks and make sure you have fun while doing so!