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Share to PinterestCommon Candle-Burning Mistakes

Common Candle-Burning Mistakes

By Staff Writer
Share to PinterestCommon Candle-Burning Mistakes

You’ve probably lit a few candles in your day. For many people, they’re a mainstay of an indoor aesthetic. But even experienced users might be surprised to discover they're not following the proper candle-burning practices.

Observing specific candle-burning techniques will ensure you get the most from every candle, every time. Steer clear of these common mistakes, and your home will have a perfectly aromatic ambiance.


Not burning your new candle long enough

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For your first lighting, always make sure the wax melts beyond the wick, all the way to the wall of the vessel. This will promote an even burn throughout the candle's life: it's like programming the candle's memory.

Failing to do this causes tunneling, which is when the wax burns down the middle without heating to the edges. This hollowing effect will eventually ruin your candle, shortening its longevity by hours and killing the ambiance it's intended to provide.


Burning a candle too long

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On the opposite end of the spectrum is burning a candle too long. After your initial setup, it's safe to keep a candle lit for up to four hours. Anything longer will result in a buildup of carbon on the wick. You might have noticed your flame getting out of control, and this is usually why.

Large flames are fire hazards, and a hot container can cause severe damage, too. Always put candles on heat-resistant surfaces.


Blowing out your candle

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Plenty of people like the smell of an extinguished candle, but others find it hard to stomach. Blowing out a candle creates dark smoke, resulting in black ash settling on your wick and wax, a common faux pas in terms of candle etiquette.

If your candle has a lid that can withstand a bit of heat, simply put it on. In a few seconds, your candle will go out due to a lack of oxygen. Snuffers are also a great choice. They work especially well on smaller or tapered candles


Using containers that are too small

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When burning tea lights or votive candles, it's customary to use a vessel designed for this purpose. But not everything works the way it's intended. Containers may be too small, resulting in black marks due to a smoking and flickering flame.

Make sure there's at least a half-inch of empty space from the top of the candle to the top of the container.


Confusing the types of wax

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The type of wax is directly related to a candle's burn time. Soy wax and beeswax are fairly soft, with a low melting point, less heat, and a longer burn. They can be hazardous if not used in a vessel.

Paraffin wax works better as a tapered candle due to its harder composition. It burns faster, but the solid wax will not get soft till it sees flame.


Improperly storing candles

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Storage is an important part of a candle's life. If you aren't careful about putting your candles away properly when not in use, you could dramatically decrease their appeal.

Find a cool, dark place that's safe and out of the way: UV light will ruin a candle. Make sure all lids are on and secure. If your candle doesn't have a lid, make one from a piece of cardboard, a plate, or anything else that will prevent dust and debris from settling on the wax. This will also ensure your candle continues to emit a nice, strong scent throughout its life.


Not keeping your candle supply organized

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Once you've figured out the proper storage techniques, you need to get organized. If you're a candle lover, you probably have a supply of seasonal and favorite scents. Figure out a system that works best so you know exactly what you own and where it's all located.

Impulse buys you regret later happen when disorganization makes you forget what you've already got!


Burning candles too close to each other

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For maximum safety, candles shouldn't be burned too close together, especially if you're using a candelabra. Keep at least a three-inch distance between each of your candles. Otherwise, the neighboring heat will warp and destroy the wax.

This can be a massive fire hazard that rapidly spreads if it isn't caught immediately.


Ignoring the wick

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Wick health is important. Before your initial light, make sure it's trimmed to around a 1/4-inch from the wax. Any longer and it could split, resulting in quite a mess. Additionally, longer wicks burn the wax quicker.

Your wick is also key when it comes to snuffing out the flame. You already know about the proper extinguishing methods, but here's another one for the skilled candle lover: use tweezers to bend the wick into the wax, extinguishing the flame, and also coating the wick, which prolongs its life. This method requires a steady hand, as you'll need to straighten the wick immediately after so it doesn't harden in the bent position.


Moving a lit candle

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Safety should be your primary concern when burning candles. Once you light it up, leave the candle where it is until it's been extinguished and is cool to the touch once again. Moving a lit or warm candle can result in spilled wax or accidentally dropping the hot container.



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