How to Burn a Candle without Fucking It Up

candle care how to burn a candle

When it comes to fire, I’m not great at a lot of things. I can’t build a campfire. I can’t light a fire in a fireplace unless a remote is involved. And I routinely burn my fingers trying to light lighters and strike matches. 

But I thought I could light a fucking candle. 

Except then Lianne went and started a candle company and I learned that, nope, I can’t even light a fucking candle properly. 

Thankfully, it’s not actually hard to light a candle properly. It really is just a matter of not burning yourself in the process. The tricks come in how long you leave it lit and how you prep the candle before burning it. 

The First Burn 

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The first thing you need to know about candles is that they have burn memory. You read that right. Burn memory. 

 

That means that every time you burn your candle it will want to replicate its first burn. So, if you burn it for 20 minutes and it makes a nice little hole in the center but never melts the edges of the candle, that’s what it will do each time you burn, no matter how long you burn it the second, third, or fourth times.

It’s important for you to have a complete burn the first time you light your candle. For our standard LTL candles, this usually takes about three (3) hours. Basically, you want to burn it until the wax pool reaches all edges of the jar. 

After this first burn, you can burn your candle for as long or as little as you like. 

Trim Those Wicks

 

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If you’re like me, at some point in your candle burning timeline, you’ve grabbed a wet towel to scrub the edges of your candle jars muttering to yourself about sooty residues and why can’t these adorable candles just BURN CLEANLY FOR ONCE!

Well. Apologies to all the adorable candles I’ve cursed over the years. This one is on me. 

APPARENTLY, you are supposed to trim your candle’s wick to ¼” before each burn. This ensures a clean burn every time and avoids the unattractive black smoke that happens when you burn a sooty wick.

Who knew? (Lots and lots of people did. They just never told me.)

You can trim wicks with fingernail clippers, scissors, OR really cute, rose gold wick trimmers. The great thing about the wick trimmer is that it’s designed to prevent the sooty wick from falling into your candle and getting stuck in or discoloring the wax. 

Saving Fucked Up Candles

Ok so if all of this is new information to you and you have some candles you love but have wax tunneling and sooty wicks, you can save those candles and show everyone you are a candle-burning pro. (And then explain to them all the ways they are burning candles wrong.)

First off, go trim all your wicks. We’ll wait.

 

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Now on to the trickier problem to fix: wax tunneling. 

If you only have a little tunneling, grab your hairdryer, turn it on to the highest setting, and blast that wax until your melt pool reaches edge to edge. The next time you burn the candle, make sure you have time for a full three-hour burn to build in that burn memory and you’re good to go.

If your tunneling is severe, time to grab your wax melter. If you remove the plate the wax goes in, it’s the perfect size for a LTL candle. Same method applies. Burn it until you have a full wax pool that encompasses the entire wax tunnel. Turn off the warmer and let the candle solidify. Aim for a three-hour burn the next time you light and, again, you’re good to go.

If you don't have a wax melter, all you need is a piece of aluminum foil. Use that foil to create a dome over the top of the candle (leaving a hole directly over the flame). This will help the wax heat evenly and quickly so you can get rid of that pesky tunnel.

And now you know how to burn a candle so each time you burn it is like the very first time.


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