There are all types of candle parents out there.
You may be the type who never even burns your “good candles” cause you’re saving them.
Maybe you're the person who leaves the house and freaks out for hours because you can’t remember whether you blew the candle out…OR are you the one who doesn’t even realize you left it going until you come home late at night and it’s still flickering?
Does your roommate, parent, significant other always blow your candles out early? Maybe you didn’t even know there was such a thing as the right time to blow out a candle.
Is this the first time you are hearing that you should trim the wick? You know who you are.
Unfortunately, candles are like inside out Sour Patch Kids: they’re all nice and sweet until things go sour. The bad news is that you can very easily ruin a candle by treating it poorly, which is sad because the good ones are not cheap, but that’s better than the worst-case scenario. Candles can be dangerous and while we often don’t give it much thought, being a bad candle parent can actually burn your house down. The good news is, the steps you need to know are very simple.
We’re giving you the scoop on all things candle care so you can get the most out of your candles and keep everyone safe in the process. Here are our Top 5 Candle Parenting Tips.
TIP #1: Trim the wick before every burn.
Proper wick selection is the key to ensuring the candle burns correctly and gives you a good strong hot throw (the fragrance you smell when the candle is lit). Too much or too little heat from the wick, and candle will not work as it should. The result could be an uneven burn, not staying lit at all, lots of soot coming from the flame, and even a fire in extreme cases.
A cotton wick should only have ¼” of wick exposed above the surface of the wax to burn correctly, and a wood wick should only have about 1/8” exposed. As the candle burns the used wick may form into a bulb on the top of the candle which needs to be removed before each burn. To take care of this, blow the candle out, let it cool and trim the wick to the correct length before you light it again.
TIP #2 Burn until a full melt pool forms.
We all dread tunneling, where there is a buildup of unused wax left around the edge of the container. If tunneling is not corrected early you will drown the wick and your candle will never burn to the bottom, we call this the “concentric circles of death”. Tunneling is usually the outcome of the most common candle parenting mistake, blowing the candle out before the melt pool has covered the entire surface of the container.
Now, if the manufacturer has not used the correct wick(s) for the container, tunneling may be their fault and not yours. Usually, this can be avoided by letting the candle burn until the melt pool is complete and then the candle will burn down evenly from edge to edge in subsequent uses. A full melt pool can take up to 90 minutes in some cases so if you don’t have time to wait, resist lighting the candle in the first place. It is true that the first burn is the most important, setting the tone for the rest of its life, but you really do need to create a melt pool on every burn.
If you see a tunnel starting to form, try gently swirling the candle using the hot wax to help the rest of the wax begin to melt. If the tunnel is too far gone, let the candle cool and then scoop out the excess wax around the edges until the surface is level once again and start over.
TIP #3: Only burn for 3-4 hours at a time.
Candles are designed to burn at a specific temperature, and in most cases you begin to exceed that safe temperature range after the candle has burned for 4 hours. Most candles are housed in glass which is only able to withstand a certain maximum temperature before it breaks, spraying liquid wax (an accelerant) and open flame in all directions. While we all want to avoid that disaster, this tip is not only about safety.
By keeping your burn times short you actually increase the longevity of the candle (a cooler burn maximizes the total burn time of the candle) helping you get the most out of that favorite candle of yours.
If you are a the type that likes to keep the candle going all day, we suggest swapping from one to another throughout the day, giving each candle a little rest. Otherwise, watch for telltale signs that your candle needs a rest: a wild flickering flame with lots of movement and black smoke, a large bulb of excess carbon building up on the end of the wick, wicks drifting to the side of the jar and/or a melt pool more than 1.5” deep. All of these signs point to a dangerous situation about to happen.
TIP #4: Burn in a safe place.
By now you know, candles are dangerous. Always burn candles in a place where you can keep your eye on them. Be sure the surface is level and create a buffer between the candle container and wood or otherwise flammable surfaces. Keep candles far away from any household items that are flammable or otherwise sensitive to heat, away from pets and out of reach of children.
TIP #5: Keep free of dust and debris.
Not only does it look gross, but it is a hazard. Candles seem simple, but the way the components work together is quite complex. Anything in the candle that can interfere with the function will reduce the likelihood that the candle burns correctly. When possible keep the lid on, not only will it keep dust out but it will keep the scent in.
These tips truly aren’t meant to be scary, but it's worth saying that candles do demand a certain level of respect. Hopefully your main takeaway from this post is that the same tips that will keep you safe, will also make sure you get the most out of all your candles and it's my hope that you will never again be afraid to burn the “good candles”.