Using the Debubbler
(Hints from Deb)
Tips for Using the BBB3
Please familiarize yourself with all of the basic aspects of gel candle making before attempting to use the BBB. We want you to be successful and a piece of equipment, no matter how good, won't get you there unless you are knowledgeable of the basics. We strongly recommend the ebook How To Make Gel Candles That Sell Like Wildfire which is available as a download from http://www.howtomakegelcandles.com . Read this book cover to cover at least twice, it is our "bible" and, in the opinion of many, the BEST gel candle making book EVER. As you can see in the photo below, I have two separate melting pots - one for regular, unprocessed gel and one for the debubbled gel.
I go on debubbling jags and try to fill the debubbled pot up so I can have it ready when the mood strikes. I got the one on the right in Walmart's housewares department, It's called a Presto Kitchen Kettle. They are about $20.00 around here. The other one is a deep fryer with incremental temperature control (not just low, medium, high) that I got at a thrift shop. The most important attribute of a good melting pot is that it has incremental temperature control. The most important accessory is a candy thermometer for each of your melting pots since the controller on the pot won't give you an accurate indication of the real temperature.
Now, what temperature is the best for debubbling gel? The hotter the better, but not too hot or you will scorch the gel. My general rule of thumb is at least 250 degrees F but not over 275. I use a 1 cup metal measuring cup to transfer the hot gel from the melting pot to the beaker to be debubbled. But you can experiment to find what works best for you (raid your kitchen for tools!). Another good idea is to get an electric griddle (the bigger the better) on which to set your smaller pots of already melted gel, ready for scenting and/or coloring. This will keep them nice and warm. I just have a small one but it does work well if you have a lot of little pots of different scented and colored gels.
If you want to color and/or scent, I suggest you do that first before debubbling, as doing it later will reintroduce air to the gel unless you are careful. Just put your scented/colored gel onto the griddle or on the stove for a bit to get it hot again (don't forget the thermometer and NEVER let it leave your sight).
With the gel container in the vacuum chamber, turn on the vacuum pump and let it go at full vacuum for about 3 minutes (remember, if it looks like the debubbling is getting too wild, raise the pressure just a bit (probably just 1/2 inch will do) until things slow down and then return to full vacuum.
It will still look as if there are tons more bubbles to get out, but don't worry, this is just fine. Keep your eye on it, you can jiggle the chamber just a bit if the bubbles don't seem to be going as fast as they did at first.
I put some rubber material in the bottom so the beaker won't slip and in case some gel bubbles over, it will collect on the rubber mat and not stick the beaker directly to the chamber (it happened to me and I didn't have that rubber underneath it and it was really hard to get the beaker out).
When it's done debubbling, you can now pour directly into your candle, let it sit on the griddle, or pour it into your "debubbled" melting pot for later use. Don't worry about a lot of leftover gel in the beaker. Let it cool off and it will just peel out and you can drop it in the debubbled gel pot.
Tips for Embeds
The warmer everything is the better. And the slower you pour the better. If you can break the fall of the gel with something (like an embed) that is better. If you have sand in the bottom of your candle, be sure to pour a thin layer of gel to cover the sand and then let it completely cool off. Otherwise you will get big air "blurps" from the air in the sand. Mostly, have fun and experiment! You will find your own way of doing things, and if you find a cool tip be sure and share it with us at the Yahoo Gel Candle group!! Remember, don't hesitate to contact us. Me about gel and Steve about vacuum. We're here to make this experience a GREAT one!!
©2008 Stephen P Hansen, the Bell Jar