Orange Chicken and Shrimp Candle and the Challenges of Working with Candle Gel and Dyed Wax

Candle gel can be tricky to work with. The gel can become cloudy if it’s heated over 225°F. Some dyes and candle fragrances may also not be compatible with the gel. If you don’t use enough gel, a product like the tart candle to the left can will look dried out within a few weeks. If you use too much gel, you could weaken the candle’s structural integrity. While gel can easily be used with container candles, free standing novelty and pillar candles cannot use large amounts of gel.

When dyeing wax, the colors will sometimes “leach out.” This tends to happen if you use too much fragrance. As the wax cools, the fragrance will seep to the bottom of the candle and will often take the dye with it leaving you with a bleached out looking product.

There are several solutions.

  1. The easiest solution is to use dyes that are compatible with the high melting point that’s needed when working with gel.
  2. Candle fragrances needed to be added in the proper proportions. Instead of using droppers, measure the wax using a digital scale. Since different types of wax and gel have different fragrance loads, it’s important that you know your ingredients. For example, paraffin wax can hold one oz. of fragrance per pound of wax. Medium density gel can hold 4% of its weight while Golden Soy Wax 444 (which is the variety that I use for my fake food candles) can hold up to 10%.
  3. If you’re using a small amount of gel wax, consider spraying it with a gloss enamel spray after it dries. This spray will give it a shiny/moist appearance.
  4. If you’re worried about leached colors, consider using acrylic paint to paint your candle. For example, when making the wax pizza below, I noticed that after coating red dyed wax (that had cooled and hardened) with undyed wax to simulate the mozzarella cheese, within 2-3 weeks the white wax had become pink. To fix this problem, I painted over the pink wax with white paint. After the paint dried, I added another layer of undyed soy wax. The white paint acted as a barrier between the two waxes. Since paint can crack as it dries resulting in the need for multiple coats, the use of soy wax over the paint gave this pizza slice a smooth and realistic looking mozzarella like topping.

Pictured here is a beef with broccoli candle that I made a few weeks ago. In this picture the candle gel used to simulate the sauce still looked moist. After two weeks, the gel had dried out and the colors had leached so that it looked as though this candle was covered with patches of greyish-white crud.

I fixed these candles by painting over the discolored patches. After painting the candles I applied two coats of gloss enamel spray.

To avoid having similar problems with my orange chicken and shrimp candles, prior to assembling this candle, I painted some of the component pieces. Pictured below are chunks of pineapple, fried chicken tenders, slivers of red and green peppers, baby carrots, and medium sized peeled shrimp.

The pineapple smells like pineapple. I used an “ocean breeze” fragrance for the shrimp to give it a fresh and slightly salty aroma. Since the only chicken aroma I could find on the internet was for garlic chicken on Amazon (which had many bad reviews), I improvised my own fried chicken aroma by blending different candle fragrances together. The peppers and carrots were given a pineapple fragrance.

A sauce was made by mixing medium density candle gel with Golden Soy Wax 444. It was colored with orange dye with a touch of brown. It was scented with an orange-pepper candle oil to which I added other aromas.

After assembling this candle, I coated it with a gloss enamel spray. Here are some pictures of the completed orange chicken and shrimp candle.

Culinary Trivia: Although orange chicken is considered Chinese-American, it’s not actually Chinese. This dish was first created by Panda Express in Hawaii. Co-founder and CEO Andrew Cheng has said that the chef who created this dish was inspired by flavors from the Chinese province of Hunan.

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