There's a right way to burn a candle: everything you need to know

By Aoife Valentine 17-01-2018

We're big fans of candles that are both generously laced with beautiful fragrances and gorgeously packaged, though sometimes the price tag that comes alongside that can be steep. We reckon a good candle is worth the money if you're going to enjoy your beautifully scented home, plus the ambiance a lovely candle can create. However, how you burn your candle can make a big difference to how long it lasts you and how well it stands the test of time. Yes, there's a 'right' way to burn a candle - and just lighting a match isn't all there is to it. Sloppy candle maintenance can lead to lopsided wick that's burning more glass than candle, or a candle that stops burning at all.

So, here is everything you need to know to make the most of your fanciest candles.

1. Always trim the wick before burning

If you never ever trim the wick of your candle, it won't be doing it much good, especially when it comes to larger candles. The more surface area there is, the greater the chance of drifting, so a shorter wick length will ensure a straighter burn. Trim it right before you burn it, every single time you use it. Around a third of an inch is a good size, and while you can buy special wick trimmers, you can just as easily use a small scissors if you're not fussed. Try not to go too short as a diminutive wick can drown and extinguish in molten wax.

 

2. Keep her lit

This is especially true for the first time you burn a candle - you can't just light it for a half hour before you head to bed, or your new candle is going to tunnel hard and fast, wasting half the candle. You need to leave your candle burning for at least one hour per inch of the candle's diameter. The idea is the entire top layer of the candle should be molten wax before you extinguish it so you can avoid creating a dip in the candle, as they will only deepen (and not widen) the next time you burn. Wax has a memory, which is why this is important.

However, it's worth noting that sometimes with very cheap candles, the wrong wick is used so you may never be able to create a full melt pool. If your wick drowns in the wax as a result, you can carve it out again above and around the wick to create a larger melt pool.

3. Never burn a candle for more than four hours at a time

We know we just said burn the candle for an hour per inch diameter, but cut it short after four hours and let it cool slightly before re-lighting it. If you burn it for more than four hours at a time, carbon will collect on the wick, and the wick will eventually start to 'mushroom'. It can make the wick unstable, the flame can get oversized, the candle will start to smoke, and soot can be released into the air. Not ideal!

 

4. Don't blow them out

It's a little counterintuitive, but you shouldn't actually blow out a candle to extinguish it. Those snuffer tools aren't just for fancy people - they serve a purpose! Splashes of wax and tilts of wicks are often caused by blowing out candles with too much force, and also, it can create unnecessary smoke. Many candles come with a lid, which will keep dust and dirt from settling on the wax, but more importantly, it is an easy way to extinguish your candle safely.

 

You might also like: 9 Irish candles that are less than €35 that will make your home smell beautiful

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