These Tricks and Tips Will Help You Get the Most Out of Every Candle You Burn

Are you practically swimming in deliciously scented new candles after the holidays?

We certainly are, and as candle aficionados, we've learned a thing or two about the best ways to burn them. If you're running into issues with your own candles, we have a few handy tips and tricks for you to fix them and get the very most out of each one you burn. And as always, have a responsible adult around when you're lighting them, and never leave a candle unattended.

Trim the Wick

You might assume that a candle's wick is already at the appropriate length when you purchase it, but that's very rarely the case. If the wick on your candle is too long when you burn it, you'll get a larger and sometimes oddly-shaped flame. Not only can a tall flame be more dangerous, but it will burn through the wax faster—meaning less time with your precious, and probably expensive candle—and also result in smoke buildup, leaving the jar full of black soot.

To prevent this, trim the wick to its optimal length of about one-quarter of an inch before lighting. You can use scissors or even nail clippers to get the job done, but for those super tall and skinny candle holders, you can even purchase a wick-trimmer to make the job a breeze. Of course, you also don't want to cut the wick too short, resulting in too small of a flame. And never trim the wick while the candle is still hot.

Shutterstock: Candles with wick trimmer

(via Shutterstock)


The Crucial First Burn

When you're planning to burn a new candle, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Aside from the wick trimming, for this critical initial burn, you should also plan to set enough time to burn the candle until the melted wax layer extends all the way to the edges of the jar. For a single-wick candle, the general rule of thumb is that it takes about an hour per inch in diameter. So if you have a three-inch-wide candle, and you don't have three hours to spare, this probably isn't the best time to try out that candle!

If you don't abide by this rule, you'll get tunneling, which is essentially a hollowing out down the middle of your candle. The unmelted wax will remain along the sides of the jar, while subsequent burns will only make the tunnel down the center of the candle go deeper. Not only does this look ugly, but it's a waste of a candle, since you're missing out on all of that extra wax.

Messed up the first burn? You may be able to fix minor tunneling and get the sides to melt properly using a hairdryer—though this may result in the wick getting buried in wax. When all else fails, you can warm a butter knife under hot water and scrape out the excess, though this doesn't always have the prettiest results.


Even Burning

Sometimes, you'll perfectly trim your wick and have it positioned right in the center, but your candle will still burn unevenly for some reason, and all of the wax will concentrate to one side. Unless you've got it up on an uneven surface, chances are that the air circulation is affecting your burn. Keep an eye on your candles and keep them away from vents blowing in hot or cold air, or even drafty windows. You may find that simply repositioning the candle will get it back to normal in no time.


Coming Back From a Broken Wick

If you accidentally trim your wick too short, or it otherwise breaks, and you can no longer light your candle because the wick is drowning in wax, not all is lost. First, try using a blowdryer to melt a thin layer of wax, then immediately light the candle. Sometimes, that will free up the wick enough to get it to flame properly.

If that doesn't work, you might need to dispose of some wax to recover the candle. Use that same blowdryer to melt away a bit of the wax around the wick, and then pour it out onto a paper plate to collect it safely before disposing of it. From there, you shouldn't have to throw away too much to get your candle back to new.

Shutterstock: Woman lighting white candles

(via Shutterstock)


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