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Candles can create a lovely ambience in your home, making the atmosphere cozy and dreamy with just a few expertly-placed votives. But like other discoveries we’ve made recently, from showering inefficiently to loading our dishwashers incorrectly, we’ve been burning our candles all wrong.
You might be thinking, “How can I do candles wrong?” We hear you—we rolled our eyes at first too. But it turns out there are candle-burning rules that candle fanatics take very seriously. And with the fanciest candles costing upwards of $75 or more, you might want in on this intel.
1. Burn It Right The First Time
The way you burn your candle the first time is crucial to its longevity. Make sure you burn it for at least three to four hours (or long enough that the wax pool reaches all the way to the edges of the candle jar).
Candle wax has memory (not kidding), and if you don’t allow the top layer to melt evenly all the way across the first time, it will only burn to that smaller circumference each subsequent time. This is called tunneling and results in a buildup of wax around the edge of the jar, making your candle look as though it has, you guessed it, a tunnel running through its center.
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2. Fix Tunneling
It’s possible to fix a tunneled candle, but you must act fast. If you have to extinguish your candle before the top layer has a chance to melt evenly, the next time you use it, wrap aluminum foil around the top of the jar. Cut a hole in the center of the foil, and allow the candle to burn long enough so the wax melts into an even layer.
3. Keep The Wick Trimmed
Always keep the wicks of your candles trimmed to one-quarter of an inch long. Keeping it at this length will help avoid excess smoke and unsightly soot marks. You can use wick trimmers, nail clippers, or just regular scissors. Maintaining the wick will keep it from curling (another thing I’m guilty of) and potentially breaking off into the wax—not a cute look. Trimmed wicks also make for a prettier and cleaner flame.
4. Keep Candles Away From Drafts
It’s also important to burn candles in a well-ventilated room. But make sure to avoid keeping your candles too close to vents, open windows, ceiling fans, etc. That can cause sooting, flare-ups, and even tunneling.
5. Properly Extinguish The Flame
If you want elite candle-burner status, use a wick dipper or a candle snuffer rather than blowing out your candles the usual way. These tools will keep the wax inside the vessel, prevent too much smoking, and keep your home smelling like a candle instead of a campfire.