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How To Care For Your Candles

Updated on October 2, 2014

I am OBSESSED with candles. I am so obsessed with them that I have a ridiculous amount stashed in my closet. I love the way a candle can make a room look so cozy and relaxing. Candles can also be very therapeutic and comforting. Gazing at the flame of a candle is an experience that relaxes your mind and your eyes. I usually burn a candle almost every evening. I light them year-round, even during the hot summer months. I thought I would share with you some tips that I use to make sure that my candles burn beautifully, and that I get to enjoy them for as long as possible.

  • Before you burn your candle it is very important that you trim the wick to 1/4 inch. Not trimming the wick can cause a lot of smoking and a sooting candle flame. Be sure you trim your candle wick before each and every time you burn it. After you trim the wick be sure to remove any debris or bits of blackened wick from the candle before lighting it. I just use regular scissors to trim my candles. They do make special scissors to trim candle wicks but they are not necessary. Just be sure you keep your wicks trimmed.

  • Burn your jar or pillar candles for at least 3-4 hours in order to liquefy the entire top layer of wax. If the top layer of wax is not allowed to melt from edge to edge it will create a "tunnel" and the wax will continue to burn down in the middle leaving behind a lot of wasted wax. Once candles start to tunnel they will burn that way for the rest of the candles life.

This is what a candle looks like when it starts to "tunnel".
This is what a candle looks like when it starts to "tunnel".

  • For pillar or three wick candles it is recommended that you "hug" your candles. This may sound a little funny but let me explain what that means. While your candle is burning, very carefully cup the top of the candle and lightly squeeze it in a hugging motion towards the wick to mold it back to its original shape. So pretty much you will be flattening the wax to make sure the surface on top is flat and not a deep well. Doing this extends the candles life greatly because you will actually end up using every inch of wax from that candle. If you continue to do this, by the time your candle is all burned up it will be flat like a pancake.

This is what a candle looks like before it is "hugged".
This is what a candle looks like before it is "hugged".
This is what is looks like to "hug" your candle. Notice how the wax is flat at the top after being "hugged".
This is what is looks like to "hug" your candle. Notice how the wax is flat at the top after being "hugged".
  • It is best to not burn your candle for longer than 4 hours. If you burn your candles for a long period of time it can cause what it called a "mushroom head" to form on the top of the wick, and this leads to a lot of smoking and sooting. If this does happen, all you need to do is trim your wick and your candle will burn just as good as new.

  • If your candle flame is too small, you probably trimmed the wick too short. If a candle does not stay lit or has a weak flame this is most likely the cause. This will leave your candle with left over wax that cannot burn because the wick will be drowning in the wax. If this happens, let your candle burn for awhile, then carefully tilt the candle in a circular motion as it is still burning to melt more of the wax around the wick. Be very careful when you do this because you do not want to get hot wax on your hands.

  • Keep your candles out of the way of drafts. When your candle is exposed to a draft it can cause the wick to lean, and the flame will start to flicker. This causes the candle to burn unevenly.

  • Keep your candles out of the sunlight when they are not being burned. The sunlight can cause the colors to fade quickly and it can also cause the candle to warp. Be sure to store your candles in cool, dry places. Storing your candles this way will keep them in excellent condition.

  • As your jar candles start to burn down soot may start to build up around the inside edges of the jar. I hate when this happens because it tends to make the candle look ugly. However, this is really easy to clean. All you have to do is wipe down the inside of the jar with a slightly damp paper towel, or you can also use a little bit of glass cleaner on the towel. Then just use a dry paper towel to dry the jar. All you do is wipe and that nasty looking jar is nice and clean again. I've also heard that using a dry paper towel to wipe the inside works just as well.

  • The best way to extinguish a candle flame is to use a candle snuffer. A candle snuffer is an instrument that is shaped like a bell that you hold over the burning wick to extinguish the candle. It puts out the flame by cutting off the oxygen the candle needs to keep burning. However, as much of a candle lover that I am, I do not have a candle snuffer. I really should get one but I just haven't gotten around to it. I just blow my candles out. If you are like me and blow your candles out, be sure you place your hand or some other barrier behind the candle when you blow to prevent sparks and sooty pieces of wick from landing on objects. If you are burning a jar candle another way you can extinguish the candle is to just put the jar lid over it. This will snuff the flame out and prevent smoking.

This is a candle snuffer.
This is a candle snuffer.
  • To make your pillar candles shine, polish it gently with an old pair nylons or fine mesh stockings. This also helps to remove scratches.

  • To create a cozy and welcoming look, place 3 or more candles of different heights as a display on your table.

This looks so beautiful and inviting.
This looks so beautiful and inviting.
  • An easy way to light a deep candle is to light the end of a piece of uncooked spaghetti. This works great for when you don't have a candle lighter or long matches. It also keeps your hands safe and free of burns.

  • If you get candle wax stuck on a candle holder or glass votive don't worry. There are a couple of easy ways to remove the wax. You can place the candle holder in hot water. The heat from the water will soften the wax. You can remove the wax by hand or if it's being stubborn you can use a butter knife to gently scrape off the wax. Do not use a sharp edged knife, it will damage your candle holder. Also be careful not to let the wax go down the drain because that can damage your pipes. Another way Is to place your candle holder in the freezer for a few hours. After it's been in the freezer for awhile the wax should pop right out. Any remaining wax residue can be removed by gently washing it with mild dish soap. If you really need to, gently scrape off any remaining stubborn wax with a butter knife. I have used both of these methods to remove candle wax and they have always worked for me.

  • Please always use caution when burning candles. Never leave burning candles unattended. Never burn a candle on or near anything that can catch fire. Always keep candles out of reach of pets and children. Pets and children can get curious about candles so just be very cautious with candles around them.

I hope this information will help you so that you can enjoy your candles for as long as possible, and that you get the most out of them. Now light a candle, relax, and enjoy!

© 2014 Danielle


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    • Arco Hess Designs profile image

      Arco Hess 3 years ago from Kansas City, Kansas

      Awesome! I have always had problems with my candles. Hugging them will surely help.

    • Fanion profile image

      Fanion 3 years ago from Norfolk, Virginia

      Thanks for publishing this.