Penreco’s Response to the Exploding Gel Candle Myth
Penreco is the manufacturer of the candle gel.
The Internet seems to continue to circulate an email about this and as such, we are posting Penreco’s July 2001 reply here :
We decided to take this issue right to Penreco
Our thanks to Ed Potter of Penreco for his response (as follows):
“I have seen the recent exploding gel candle story that is making the rounds on the Internet. Penreco has spent a lot of time and money researching the origins of a gel candle fire. This is quite simply why we have released all the information that we have to the market place regarding the results of our work and recommendations for producing a safe candle.
“Most gellers (gel candle makers) know the criteria that we have released for fragrance selection; minimum 170F flash point and non-polar in nature. We also provide the maximum fragrance loads recommended for our gels.
“Candle flares might occur when the improper fragrance is selected, the concentration is too high or the fragrance oil is not well mixed. Low flash point or polar fragrances can reduce the flash point of the total candle system to a point that could coincide with the higher melt pool temperatures of gel candles.
“When the fragrance oil is not well mixed pockets of lower flash point fragrance can develop in a burning candle, when the flame hits this pocket the flame will spread across the melt pool. If enough heat is generated from the flames it has the potential to explode the glass.
“The examples we have seen of this occurred at the bottom of the candle because the sides of the candles allow for the heat to build up.
“The recent story mentions a gas building up and exploding, this is untrue. No gases are emitted from burning a candle gel made with Penreco gel.
“Gel candles are not wax candles. They do burn at higher temperatures than wax candles and the candle maker should take the extra precaution to find out as much as possible about all of the safety factors involved with making a safe gel candle. Once they have an idea in mind they should produce several prototypes to test before offering it for sale to anyone.
“Penreco is committed to supplying the safest product possible and we continue to research this technology to provide additional safety data as it develops.
“One additional thought before you add these comments to your newsletter. It should be understood and I would want to emphasize that all of the safety work we conducted was with Penreco candle gels, based on the oils Penreco uses and at the polymer ratios that Penreco produces to.
“I would never state that our safety data automatically transfers to any home made gel or some of the gels that are offered on various Internet sites. Unfortunately some sites that I know are not selling our gel are promoting and using the safety factors we developed to market their gels.
“Please give me a call if you need anything else. Thanks, Ed (Potter) ”