We spend a lot on the candles we love, whether a luxury candle splurge or an everyday travel tin, so it makes sense to treat them right and get the most usefulness from our candle purchase.
1. Always Trim The Wick To ¼” Before Lighting
Many people overlook the importance of trimming the wick. It smudges black carbon everywhere if you break it off with your fingers, it’s hard to reach as your container candle burns down, or maybe you don’t have scissors that reach that far into the jar. Whatever the reason, most people skip this step. But, you are reducing the quality and lifespan of your candle by leaving the wick untrimmed between burns.
Here’s what happens. The wick gets long, causing the flame to burn taller and to flicker more than it should. Wisps of black smoke and soot become more frequent, leaving soot on the jar. As the container candle burns down in the jar, the taller and less predictable flame causes the sides of the jar to heat up more than would be normal. More wax melts, resulting in a deeper melt pool. The higher temperature of the wax can cause some of the fragrance to burn off.
Other issues could develop too. Pieces of the wick and other debris that drop into the melt pool could catch on fire. We definitely don’t want this! So while you are trimming the wick, be sure to remove any wick trimmings or other debris from the candle surface before you light your candle. Wick trimming is easy if you have the right tools, so invest in some candle wick snips like these.
If you aren’t yet convinced about the importance of trimming the candle wick, here’s one last thing to consider. According to the National Candle Association, regularly trimming the wick can help your candle burn up to 25 percent longer.
2. Follow Manufacturer Recommendations
Candles come in many shapes and forms: pillar candles, jar candles, small candles, large candles, travel candles, wax melts, and even wickless candles. They are made using different waxes and fragrance concentrations. The candle maker has tested your candle and knows its capabilities and limitations. Following the guidance provided by your candle maker will surely provide the best candle experience. When you purchase a candle, the maker usually includes a care card or a link to their website where care instructions are listed. They tailor the care cards to reflect special notes about how to get the most enjoyment from your candle purchase. If your candle didn’t come with a care card, reach out to the maker to ask about recommended care.
Most candle makers advise burning to the edge on the first burn, and then up to 4 hours in subsequent candle sessions. There are a few reasons for this: carbon buildup, soot, and indoor air. The wicks used in soy candles are prone to carbonization - the little mushrooms that develop on the wick as the candle burns. A long, untrimmed wick will develop more carbon than trimmed wicks. Long wicks and dancing flames can cause soot to be deposited on the side of the jar and released into the air. Keeping the wick trimmed and burning the candle for up to 4 hours will help control the amount of soot that your candle produces. Allow the candle to cool for at least 4 hours before re-lighting.
Do you like to burn candles all day long? Consider buying a few of your favorite candle scents and alternate the scents you burn. You could also try using a wax melter for scents that last all day.
3. Develop A Full Melt Pool During The First Burn
OK, but what’s a melt pool? This is the area of melted wax around the candle flame. A good melt pool is needed to help the candle distribute scents around the room. The wider the candle is, the longer it will take to develop the melt pool. A good rule of thumb is one hour per inch diameter of your candle. The first time you light your candle, try to have at least 3 hours where you can enjoy your candle without the need to extinguish it. This undisturbed time will allow the melt pool to develop to the edge (or nearly to the edge) of your candle. The next time you light your candle, the melt pool will develop faster and more evenly. On the other hand, if you continually light and extinguish the flame before the melt pool reaches the edge, then only the wax near the wick burns, eventually resulting in a wick that sits much lower than the edges of the candle. This is called “tunneling”. This reduces the life - and your enjoyment - of your candle.
4. Choose the Right Space
The size and shape of the scented candle should reflect the room in which you plan to use it. Small candles, under 8 oz, and candle shapes that are tall and narrow are great in smaller spaces like bathrooms, offices, or even a bedside table. These candles are not large enough to fill a larger space.
Large candles over 8 oz, or wide diameter candles with multiple wicks, do better in larger spaces. High ceilings could also impact how the scent from the candle is distributed throughout the room. If the room is large and the ceilings are high, you might even try two single wick candles to sufficiently scent your space.
How air flows throughout the room can have a huge influence on how well the scent dissipates. If your candle is an appropriate size for the space but you're having a hard time smelling it, try moving it to another location. Try placing it lower, like a coffee table, instead of higher like on a fireplace mantle. Always try relocating a candle before adding additional candles. If your space doesn’t have great airflow, it will be harder for the candle to scent your space.
5. Avoid Drafts
Avoiding drafts is the caveat to the previous time about airflow. Some is good, too much is bad. Avoid placing your candle in the direct path of an air vent, a window, under a ceiling fan, or by an AC unit or fan. Too much airflow can cause the flame to consume too much oxygen, resulting in soot on the jar and uneven melting of the wax.
6. Store Candles In A Dark Place
Candles exposed to sunlight or UV light will change color over time. Sunlight or heat can also cause your candle to warp if left exposed to the source for long periods. While this doesn’t affect how the candle burns, it does affect how it looks. If you don’t plan to burn your candle soon, just put your candle in a dark cupboard or closet where temperatures are relatively constant, between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If your candle came with a lid or dust cover, make sure to store it with the lid or cover in place to keep out dust, debris, pet fur, and the like.