Candles are a great way to create an ambiance, add a decorative touch, and fill your home with cozy warmth and a beautiful scent.
Depending on the type and brand, they can also be quite expensive, so if you've noticed that your candles burn out very quickly—we're here with helpful tips and tricks on how to care for them so they last for longer. Not only will these clever hacks help your candles burn longer, but they'll also prevent cracking, sooting, and tunneling. Scroll down to learn more so you get the most out of your favorite candle.
Tips to Help Your Candles Last Longer
Trim the Wick
Make sure you trim the wick before every burn. Be consistent with this because when the wick is not trimmed, soot begins to form and grow, causing the flame to be larger, which in turn causes the candle to burn faster. The wax will burn more evenly with a shorter wick, preventing uneven rings, or tunneling, in a candle jar. Use scissors or a wick trimmer to do so—there are many decorative wick trimmers available that also make for a beautiful decorative accessory when styled next to your favorite candle.
Light It for Longer
When lighting a candle, keep it lit for longer than just a few minutes, especially the first time that you light it. If it has only been lit for a couple of minutes, only the wax immediately around the wick has a chance to melt and burn down, which causes an uneven surface and burn.
This may sound like a strange idea, but here is how it works—after you have burned your new candle once and the wax has melted, blow it out. While the wax is still hot, sprinkle regular table salt, nothing fancy, into the melted wax. Use a toothpick to quickly but gently stir in the salt. As the salt melts into the wax, it will prolong the burn the next time you light the candle.
Put It in the Freezer
The freezing method works particularly well for pillar and taper candles, as there is no hazard of a glass jar cracking when transitioning from the chill of a freezer to the heat of a lit wick. Placing a candle in the freezer hardens the wax and slows down the burn. There is no time limit for how long you can keep candles in the freezer for, but the larger the candle, the longer it will need to harden in the freezer. For example, if you are planning on using multiple pillar candles in a festive centerpiece, stick them in the freezer the night before to ensure the wax has had plenty of time to harden.
Keep It Away From Vents and Drafts
Keep a lit candle away from any vents and drafts that may blow the wick towards one side and cause the wax to burn unevenly. You will end up with a crater in the candle that will significantly shorten its life. Even if your candle is not near a draft but you notice the wick tilting to one side, once you blow it out and it's cool enough to handle, straighten it out so it's pointing up again, then trim it.
Wait Between Burns
Instead of lighting and re-lighting a candle within minutes, give it enough time to cool off. If a candle, scented or not, is re-lit too quickly, the wax will begin to form rings and burn unevenly, shortening its burn time.
Keep the Wax Clean
One reason to wait to trim the wick after the wax has cooled and hardened is so that it doesn't fall into a pool of melted wax and dirty it. Keeping the wax as clean as possible and free from trimmed wicks, soot, and match pieces will help it burn more evenly and ensure nothing disturbs the candle's scent.
How to Prevent...
Candle soot refers to the black smoke that sometimes occurs when you burn a candle and that piles up on a wick or dirties the sides of a candle jar, especially when the wax begins to get low and gets close to the bottom of the jar. The best way to prevent candle soot from forming is by regularly trimming the wick after every single burn. If your glass candle jars already have that black soot on them, two quick and easy ways to clean it off are to either use a magic eraser sponge or an old dryer sheet.
One issue that can cause a candle to crack is air bubbles. To get rid of them and prevent cracking, once you've blown out your candle, gently tap the sides of the jar or use a toothpick to pop any bubbles that you see. Don't shake it around vigorously as it'll cause the melted wax to coat the sides of the jar and the wick, leading to an uneven burn and additional soot forming.
If you've never heard of the term tunneling, it describes what happens when only a small portion of wax around the wick melts and creates an uneven surface, as opposed to the entire wax surface melting at the same rate. To prevent this from happening, besides regularly trimming the wick, burn your candle long enough for all the wax to melt evenly, instead of in short spurts that cause tunneling.
If your candle is already uneven, there is a simple way to fix it using a household item you probably already have on hand—tin foil! Grab a piece of foil, fold it into a long-ish rectangle, then wrap it around the candle jar, and keep it there the next time you light the candle—you'll see the wax begin to even out.
Your Foolproof Guide to Burning a Candle Correctly. National Candle Association.