Basic Candle Care (There's More to Just Lighting the Wick!)

A great candle experience begins with proper candle care and maintenance. Sure - you can ignore all the care tips and your candle will still burn but not optimally…and…you’ll notice it.

Below are questions and concerns I get multiple times each day. I want to help ensure that your candle is burning the best way possible and that you’re being safe while enjoying it!

Q: So, you’ve bought the perfect candle and brought it home and have been burning it…but you notice there’s a lot of wax around the edges and it’s becoming difficult to reach and light the wick…

  • A: Your candle is tunneling. What do you do?

As with all candles, the first burn is the most important. To begin, candles should burn one hour for every 1 inch in diameter of the actual candle size. If you don’t feel like taking out a ruler to burn your candle, just pay attention to where the wax pool is before you extinguish your candle. You’ll want to see it touch the container or reach the edges of your jar. If the wax is not allowed to liquefy or to melt from edge to edge of the jar or tumbler, it will create a “tunnel”. This is especially important the first time the candle is lit. Once a candle has tunneled, it will continue to burn that way for the life of the candle, thus eliminating that full burn time your candle promised.

candle tunneling

candle tunneling

Q: My candle flame is really tall…

My flame emits black smoke…

My wick has a huge mushroom top after burning…

My wax seems to be burning really fast…

  • A: All of these problems can be answered by trimming your wicks

Keep the wick trimmed to 1/4 inch at all times. It is suggested to trim the wick every 4 hours of burn time. When wick trimming, you should always extinguish the flame, let the candle come to room temperature, and trim the wick before relighting. I simply trim my wick before lighting each time.

There’s even a special tool to help trim your wicks with ease to the appropriate length with a nice clean cut called a wick trimmer. I know some of you use your fingers to pluck the big mushroom part off your wick. DON’T. There’s a chance you could break the wick off too close to the wax making it impossible to relight your wick. I know some of you will just use scissors. I wouldn’t recommend that either.

You can get your wick trimmer at Candelaria in-store or online. It’s a one time investment that you should always have on hand to save yourself some money in the long run.

from left to right: wick trimmer, wick dipper, snuffer

from left to right: wick trimmer, wick dipper, snuffer

It is recommended that after burning for 4 hours, candles be extinguished, allowed to cool for two hours, and trimmed before relighting. <—— scientifically optimal suggestion

Q: My candle smokes A LOT after blowing it out….

  • A: Extinguish your flame instead.

A candle smoking after being blown out is totally normal. But to prevent that from happening for either personal preference or safety, I suggest dipping your wick. That means, while your flame is still lit, use a poker of sorts (wick dipper or old butter knife - see image above) and simply flick your wick downwards into your liquid wax and allow the wick to flick back upwards. Your wick will extinguish immediately with little to no smoke and will also coat your wick with a thin layer of wax, making it easier to light your wick the next time. You can also use a snuffer (see image above).

Q: My candle seems to be melting only on one side…or my candle wax is pooling in one spot and now my flame is really small

  • A: Your candle is most likely not sitting straight or is in a drafty area.

For safety sake AND the sake of a proper burn, always burn candles well away from drafts, other heat sources, and anything flammable like curtains or tablecloths. Make sure lit candles candles are out of reach of children and pets. Never leave a burning candle unattended.

Q: I have a lot of candles and I don’t burn through them very quickly. How should I store them?

  • A: Away from extreme temperatures & light

The waxes and oils are sensitive to both temperature and light, so please take care when storing candles for an extended period of time. Be sure they are kept in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or intense light. Keeping it in a dark place like a cupboard or box will protect it from fading and discoloration.

I’ve heard the old wives tale of storing them in a freezer. DON’T. Most candles are sensitive to extreme cold and heat, so it’s best to store them between 50ºF and 85ºF. Different wax types have different melting points, but will all begin to be affected when left in extreme temperatures. Be sure not to leave our candles in your car for an extended period of time (particularly on hot days) as they may melt or discolor. Extreme cold causes cracking and separation and can quickly affect fragrance strength. Should your candle be left in long exposure to the cold, please allow the candle to return to room temperature for at least 2 hours before burning it to minimize potential damage.

Let’s recap:

  1. TRIM THE WICK. Keep your wick trimmed to 1/4" at all times.

  2. LET THE WAX POOL. Each time you burn your candle, allow the entire top layer to become a warm pool of liquid wax and you'll get the biggest, boldest scent possible with the longest burn times.

  3. BURN IT SAFELY. Always burn your candle on a safe flat surface, keep it out of drafts and NEVER leave it unattended while lit.

  4. DIP YOUR WICK. Extinguish your wick rather than blowing it out to prevent an overabundance of smoke.


For more Candle Safety Rules please visit the National Candle Association’s Candle Safety Page at: