Whether it’s a $15 candle you bought on a whim at Target or a $70 Diptyque splurge, lighting a candle is like watching your money burn away. Even if you try to save your candles for special moments you want to romanticize, it always seems like the wax disappears way too quickly and before you know it, the wick will no longer light at all. Being all too familiar with the fleeting nature of candles, I’ve learned a few tricks to make them last longer and burn more evenly. Basically, if you want to get the most out of your candles, you’ve gotta take care of them. These are my biggest tips for the best burn:
How to Burn Candles Evenly and Make Them Last Longer
Use a candle warmer lamp
The best hack to get your candles to burn evenly and last longer involves not lighting them at all. Instead, place them under a candle warmer lamp, which uses heat from a lightbulb to gently melt the wax from the top down. Because this gives off much less heat than an open flame, the wax evaporates more slowly, making your candles last way longer. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the soot and smoke that results from blowing out a burning wick.
The first time you burn, let the candle burn evenly
If you do decide to light your candles the traditional way, it’s important to get that first burn right. When you first light a candle, make sure to burn it long enough to completely melt the surface of the wax. This might take a while depending on the type of candle you have, but if you start your candle with a giant tunnel (AKA a sunken part in the middle with wax still unmelted around the sides), it’s difficult to make the wax burn evenly in the future. And because you can’t make use of all the wax, this means you’re burning your candle down faster and wasting that precious scent.
Always trim your wick
If your candle’s wick has what I call a “mushroom top,” you need to trim that off before burning it again. Those little pieces of burned wick can cause the flame to pop when you light it next, which causes a major fire hazard (and leaves small black bits stuck in the candle’s wax). Plus, a too-tall wick can cause tunneling and create more soot that builds up around the top of the container. As a good rule of thumb, always trim your candle’s wick down to about 1/4 of an inch in length before you light it.
If the candle starts to tunnel, fix it with aluminum foil
If you do end up with a tunnel in the middle of your candle, you can fix it with the help of some aluminum foil. Basically, you wrap a piece of foil around the edges to keep the heat in close to the candle, which helps the built-up wax melt down with the rest. If you have a major tunneling problem, however, using a candle warmer lamp is probably your best solution.
Once your candle is done, re-use the container
Give your candles a second life by repurposing the jar once the wax has burned all the way down. If you still have some leftover wax in the container, you can easily get that out in a couple of different ways. You could create a doubler boiler on the stove to heat up the wax and pour it out, or you can simply put the candle in the freezer. As the wax freezes, it’ll shrink slightly, so it should pop right out. You can also gently crack the frozen wax using a tool like a butter knife and it’ll come out in a couple of pieces. Never put your candle in the microwave because the wick is usually sitting on a piece of metal, and we all know what happens there.
To remove any soot or excess candle wax on the edges, use some dish soap and warm water on a washcloth. It’ll take a second, but it usually comes right off. Then repurpose the container as a cute candy jar, as a vase for flowers, or as storage for things like makeup brushes, cotton swabs, and more.
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