How to Burn Candles Evenly, According to Experts

candle on coffee table

Desiree Burns Interiors

We absolutely love placing candles throughout our homes no matter the season. Candles add so much ambiance and charm to any space, whether you're entertaining or simply relaxing solo. Maybe you look forward to lighting a particular pumpkin candle each fall or unwinding every evening by lighting a soothing lavender-scented candle before bed.

However, it's possible that you're not caring for your candles properly. Many people fail to let their candles burn evenly, which ultimately interferes with their longevity and has a number of other side effects. So that you can prevent this from happening moving forward, we spoke with four experts in the candle industry. Below, they weigh in with key tips to keep in mind to ensure an even burn every time.

Pay Special Attention to the First Burn

The first time you light your candle is the most important, notes Cassandra Ziegler, founder and maker at ODMÉ Candle Co. "Always make sure a full melt pool is reached before extinguishing your candle," she says. "This sets the course for how the candle will burn every time after." Don't simply plan to light a new candle and rush out the door 30 minutes later. As Ziegler adds, "This usually means having your candle lit for a few hours, so plan your time accordingly — the worst thing you can do is extinguish a candle too soon after lighting it which causes the candle to 'tunnel.'' But if tunneling does occur, don't worry, you'll just want to address the issue the second time you light your candle, she explains. "If the tunneling isn't corrected right away it will become too severe — and your wicks too short — to even out the wax levels, and half of your candle will go to waste."

candle in bedroom

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Keep the Wick Trimmed

If you don't already have a wick trimmer on hand, you're going to want to invest in one! Abigail Cook Stone, CEO and Co-Founder of Otherland, shares the following tidbit. "You must, must, must trim your wick before every burn to make sure it’s nice and short and with no mushroom-y bits." Doing so will also ensure there won't be any soot on the inside of the candle, Stone adds. So don't forget to trim in order to get your money's worth out of your candle. "Judicious wick trimming will help you get the most out of your candle purchase and optimize the fragrance and burning experience throughout the duration of the product," Stone says. Just note that you'll only want to do this when the candle is cool so the part you’re removing doesn’t fall into the melted wax, notes Erica Werber, founder of Literie Candles.

Don't Keep Candles Lit for Too Long

Lighting a candle as you sit down for the work day and keeping it lit until 5 pm rolls around may seem like a great idea, but in reality, candles shouldn't burn for hours and hours on end. "After about three to four hours absolute maximum, it’s time to extinguish your candle," Stone says. "Any longer than that and your wick has likely mushroomed, and you may experience weak fragrance performance on subsequent burns from such a large volume of wax becoming liquified." Werber agrees, noting that she keeps her candles lit for one to four hours so that the melt is even and the glass doesn't get too hot. Your best bet when it comes to deciding how long to leave any given candle burning is simply to read any notes that came with it. "It seems unnecessary, especially for experienced candle burners, but always read the instructions," Ziegler says. "Often times they'll provide an optimal burn time, such as two to three hours."

candle in living room

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Use a Candle Snuffer

When you do extinguish your candle, it's best to do so using a candle snuffer. "Sometimes simply blowing out your candle can be a bit messy and not super great for the wick," says Alicia Reisinger, owner and creative director of Wax Buffalo Pure Soy Wax Candle Co. "Using a snuffer will keep your wick and wax clean for your next burn."