Whether it's tunnelling, a badly behaving wick, or you simply want to take better care of your candles, we're covering it all in this definitive guide to candle care, including how to trim your candle's wick. So take a seat, strap in and read on. By the end of this guide you'll be a candle care pro!
Unboxing Your New Candle
We know the excitement of a new candle! All you want to do is tear into the box and take a whiff of your new fragrant friend. Without spoiling the magic, it's important to give your candle a quick once over before lighting it.
First things first, please make sure to recycle the packaging when and if you can. If your order arrives with packing peanuts, these can often be dissolved in running water, rather than going to landfill. We use maize peanuts with our candles which are soluble and safe for waterways.
Now where were we? After unboxing please check the candle container for cracks and damages. This is a really important step as glass containers can weaken and break while burning if damaged. Not only is it a fire hazard but you also don't want hot candle wax spilling out everywhere.
If your container looks good, the next step is to check the wick. Candle wicks are actually rather finicky. They can make or break your candle and need to be tended to. The wick should be roughly 5mm long (about half a cm). We don't expect you to crack the tape measure out but do give it a quick eyeball.
If the wick is too short, it may drown itself. Too long and the flame will be too large and can release smoke and soot. It may also do something known in the candle world as 'mushrooming'.
Mushrooming is where carbon balls form around the wick. This creates a mushroom looking wick and these balls will eventually fall into the melted wax and can ruin the scent of your candle and even reignite.
How To Light A Scented Candle
Before you light your candle, if it comes with botanicals like dried flowers that sit on top of the wax, it's a good idea to remove these first, as they can be a fire hazard. Please note however that this doesn't apply to botanicals that are set in the wax.
We recommend using a match to light your candles as the wood will biodegrade while a plastic lighter will likely end up in landfill. That said, a safety lighter will also do the trick if you prefer.
Next job is to decide where to light your candle.
We like to think of our home as a book. Your entrance is the first page and where you get a real feel for the rest of the story. This makes the hallway an excellent place to light your scented candle and the aroma will act as a warm hug after a long day or a refreshing welcome to friends and family.
If however you spend more time in your living room or want to create a certain mood elsewhere, feel free to light it up there. Just make sure to avoid lighting your candle near curtains and flammable furnishings.
As well as avoiding pets and keeping your candles out of reach of children, make sure to avoid lighting your candle near a draught. A draught will cause your candle to burn faster and when you've found your favourite scent, there's nothing you'll want less than to burn through it quickly.
It will also lessen the fragrance of your candle and can cause an uneven burn. We'll talk more about this shortly...
How Long Should You Burn A Candle?
This part is crucial. Your candle certainly doesn't have a brain but it does have a 'memory'...
The biggest problem faced when burning a candle is tunnelling.
This can occur when a candle hasn't burnt for long enough or the wick is not strong enough for the candle, causing it to tunnel down. Eventually it will drown itself in a pool of wax and leave excess wax around the edges.
So, how do we stop a candle from tunnelling?
After your first burn, the wax should have just about reached the edges of the container, forming the 'memory pool'.
From here on out, make sure to burn your candle for 2-4 hours at a time to maintain an even burn pool that reaches the edges. This way you'll avoid any tunnelling, extend the life of your candle and get the most scent out of it.
Make sure not to burn your candle for longer than 4 hours as this can cause your wick to become unstable.
How Do You Fix A Tunnelled Candle?
In the event that your candle has already begun to tunnel, all hope is not lost! Here's a quick trick to help:
1. Take a piece of tinfoil and fold it over the top of your candle. Allow it to overlap any unburnt wax around the edge of your candle.
3. Make sure there is a gap in the centre so your wick can burn properly and get plenty of oxygen, then light your candle with a match.
3. This trick will reflect heat back into the unmelted wax and soon enough you should have an even pool of wax. Please note that if your candle has tunnelled rather far down, this method may not work.
If the tinfoil isn't cutting it, you can carefully use a hairdryer to melt the excess wax. Please be careful not to blow hot wax out of the jar.
How Best To Extinguish A Candle
This one might seem obvious, but blowing out your candle can create more smoke and even cause the wick to blow into your wax and drown, or worse yet, blow hot wax out of the container and all over your furniture!
Some people like to use the lid to extinguish the flame, however this method can actually change the fragrance of your candle. By snuffing out the flame with your lid, you're trapping the smoke in the melted wax. This can give your candle a smoky fragrance and ruin the original scent.
So, what's the best way to extinguish a candle?
We recommend using a candle snuffer or doubter. This is a handy tool that's been used for centuries with a cone at the end of a long handle. Simply hold the hood of the snuffer over the flame until it goes out. Once any smoke has blown away, you can put your lid back on.
How To Trim A Candle Wick
This is a step that we often see being skipped. But don't worry there's no shame here, the days of neglecting your wick are over.
First things first, why is it important to care for your candle wick? Put simply, an untrimmed wick creates a larger flame which means your candle will burn quicker and won't last as long. It can also cause the wick to 'mushroom' as we discussed earlier.
"Mushrooming is where carbon balls form around the wick. This creates a mushroom looking wick and these balls will eventually fall into the melted wax and can ruin the scent of your candle and even reignite."
So, with this in mind how do you trim a candle wick?
You can use a small pair of scissors or nail clippers, however to ensure you get the right length, we recommend purchasing a proper wick trimmer. Most wick trimmers won't allow you to accidentally trim lower than 5mm, which is the ideal length for your wick.
Your candle wick should be trimmed before every burn, just snip the tip of the wick to roughly half a centimetre and light.
If your wick misbehaves and begins to mushroom, just trim the end and be careful to make sure it doesn't drop into the wax. Overall, keep an eye on your wick and trim before every burn for a happy candle.
How Long Should You Keep A Candle?
We recommend finishing your candle within 12 months from purchase for the best results. They can however last far longer when kept in a cool dry place out of sunlight. You may even wish to store them in an airtight container to prolong their lifespan.
Sadly, depending on the candle, you may notice changes in the strength of the fragrance after a few years, which is why we suggest using within 12 months.
How To Store A Candle
It's a good idea to store your candles with a lid or with a dust cover that may have come with your candle in order to keep it nice and clean. Avoid spraying any cleaning products on a surface near your candle, as this may pose a danger when re-lighting it.
It's important to keep your candles in a suitable place when storing them, if your space is too cold it may cause the wax to crack. This doesn't pose any threat to the performance of your candle but if does ruin the finish.
Similarly, if left in direct sunlight (especially with vegetable waxes) your candle may 'sweat'. This is a term used when natural oils seep out of the wax, leaving a layer of oil on top. Again, this won't damage your candle and can be wiped away with a dry cloth or paper towel.
When left in direct sunlight for a long period of time, your candle may actually melt! If this happens, just move it into a shaded area and leave to set.
How To Clean Candles
If you keep the lid on your candle, you'll keep any dust at bay, same goes for a dust cover. If however you do notice a layer of dust on the wax, it can actually dull the fragrance of your candle. Don't worry though, you can simply wipe it away with a cloth or paper towel.
What To Do When Your Candle Has Ended
So, the fragrance has faded and the wax has reached the bottom of the jar...*sigh*. But, just because your candle has reached the end of its life, doesn't mean you can't still make use of it.
A candle should put itself out when it's reached the end of its life, but we usually say to avoid relighting it when there's roughly 10mm of wax left. At this point, you'll probably be wondering what to do with your empty jar or container. First things first, let's give it a clean!
How do you clean a candle jar? Well, here's a simple trick to try.
First, pop the kettle on and fill the jar with hot water just above the wax line and allow to cool. You can put the jar in your fridge to help speed this up. Once cooled the majority of the wax should loosen and you can simply pick it out (we'll discuss what to do with it in a moment).
Make sure to remove the wick holder too, you should just be able to pull it out. If any wax is left around the edges of your jar, take a hairdryer or a heat gun, melt the leftovers and wipe away with a paper towel.
Please don't pour your wax down the sink as it may block the pipes. Instead, you can pop it in the bin or re-use it in a wax melter. Find out how to use wax melts.
Please Be Careful
If you believe your container may be rather fragile, avoid using boiling water and opt for warm water instead. Please also avoid putting fragile containers in the fridge or microwave to prevent them from cracking or breaking altogether.
Re-using Candle Jars
Once your jar is clean, you can re-use however you like! Empty jars can make excellent pen holders, plant pots, match holders and more.
So there you have it, a complete guide on how to care for candles. Keep these tips in mind and enjoy your candles with confidence. Now... where did we put our matches?