Lighting a candle might sound simple (just wax and a wick, right?), but to get the most burn for your buck, it's a bit more complicated. Every candle has a lifespan, and your burning ritual can reduce or prolong it. But don't worry, we'll show you some tricks to optimize your flame time.
Burn (evenly) baby, burn!
1. You're not trimming your wick.
Ever notice how wicks get a mushroom top after they've burned a while? While normal, it's not the best for candle-burning. Trimming the wick to a quarter-inch before burning allows for a clean, even burn—any higher and you'll have a large, flickering flame that leaves soot specks around the side of the jar. You can trim using standard scissors, but if it's hard to get the blades into your candle container, it might be easier to use a wick trimmer.
2. You're not burning long enough.
You burned your candle and let it dry out, but it doesn't look quite right. What went wrong? If your wax looks lumpy or has a huge pit at the center (known as tunneling), chances are you didn't burn your candle long enough. Candles have burn memory, so burn your candle all the way to the edge of the vessel every time (which usually takes around two hours). Here's why: If the wax at the edge of the candle doesn't heat up and liquify; the next time you light the candle, it will only expand to that small ring in the middle, meaning you're wasting all the peripheral wax.
To bring a tunneled candle back to life, pop the candle in a 175-degree oven for about five minutes. The distributed low heat helps melt the wax, making it smooth and level across the top again.
3. You're not paying attention to your surroundings.
Environment is important when burning candles. Steer them away from air currents from vents, fans, and drafts; which cause candles to burn unevenly and prevent their scent from effectively filling the room. Plus, poor placement can produce excessive smoke that leaves messy black stains on your container.
Pro tip: Keep candles away from walls, because heat or soot can leave an unsightly black mark.
4. You're blowing out the flame.
You might think of candle snuffers as archaic items that nobody actually uses, but they do serve a purpose. Blowing out a flame like the wolf in The Three Little Pigs creates smokiness, drags soot on the container, and can push the wick down into the wax (causing damage when dug out).
Instead, use a candle snuffer—we love this set from Diptyque—to extinguish the flame. Snuffing keeps the wick in place, prevents that post-burning smell, and eliminates dangers associated with blowing on hot wax. Plus, it's fun to use!