The Ultimate Guide To Preventing Candle Tunneling

Everyone who has ever burned a candle will know the struggle is real. You get a fancy new candle, you burn it, you bask in the awesome aroma, you blow it out. And repeat.

As times goes on you end up with a big sooty mess of unused wax stuck to the edges of your jar. It’s all a bit untidy.

You’re left to stare down into a pit of candle doom. This, my candle loving friends, is called "tunneling" and it could soon become the bane of your life, if it isn’t already!

Now if your new to the world of candles you may think that this is how they burn normally. Unfortunately, this is not the case. 

The worst part is that eventually, your candle may become too difficult to light. The wax above it could melt and extinguish your flame, leading to a ruined candle.  

Luxury candles could set you back quite a bit, but they should be well constructed. Equipped with the proper size and type of wick for the wax, fragrance and vessel, they should burn evenly. 

But if you’re still experiencing the tunneling issue, all is not lost. There are ways to prevent and even fix this common and annoying issue. 

How To Prevent Candle Tunneling 

In this post we will share our top tips for preventing candle tunneling. These will ensure you get the maximum burn time and fragrance out of your candle.

Lesson 1: First Time Burn Is Very, Very Important

Now believe it or not your candle has a "memory". When you burn your candle for the first time you need to ensure you can do so for at least 2-3 hours.

Doing so will allow the candle to burn properly and allow the whole surface to burn evenly. This will melt the entire top layer of wax, and if burned evenly will mean that it will dry smoothly, thus avoiding those nasty dips.

On the flip side, if you don't do this you run the risk that the melt pool your candle creates will only ever being able to reach the size it originally burned to, leading to the creation of a tunnel as the outer edges will never melt properly.

how to prevent candle tunneling

As a rule, you want to burn your candle 1 hour per inch in diameter. This should go a long way in preventing candle tunneling.

Lesson 2: Always Stick to Lesson 1!

Now this may be easier said than done as life always has a habit of getting in the way. Nevertheless, you should always try to ensure you can burn your candle for at least 2 hours.

Now if you enjoy your candles whilst having a bath, that does mean you now have to stay in the tub for 2 hours.

But seriously, whilst it might be tempting to light your candle for 30 mins here and there this won’t provide you with the optimum candle burn.

Lesson 3: Trim Your Wick

Many people who burn candles, especially those that are new to them will be guilty of this. 

It's an extremely easy thing to light your candle, extinguish it and light it again. But there is a step missing in that process. Wick Trimming.

Each time you burn your candle you need to trim the wick. We recommend this as part of general candle etiquette.

Why? First, trimmed wicks will give you a cleaner, brighter burn. Which is just what’s needed for an even candle burn.

Second, excessively long wicks are the main culprit when it comes to those nasty soot stains. Keeping an eye on your wick will keep the flame in control and prevent these marks appearing.

If you don't trim your wick your flame may end up going into an odd mushroom-style shape. This will dull the flame, like the below.  

trimmed candle wick

Image credit: Caroline Pradeiro / Insider

To do this you can either use scissors, nails clippers or invest in a fancy candle wick trimmer.

Always keep your candle’s wick trimmed to an 1/8 of an inch . The wick should be trimmed every 4 hours of burn time. 

Lesson 4: Keep the Candle Away From Moving Air

If you adhere to good candle etiquette this will go without saying. But you need to do all you can to keep the flame from getting disturbed so you can achieve that full burn.

Don't place your candle near windows, busy walk ways in the house or AC units if you have those.

And there you have it! Those are our 4 lessons to ensure you prevent candle tunnelling. 

Happy (even) burning!


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