Person lighting a candle in a clear glass jar

I can't count the number of candles that I have wasted by burning them incorrectly. After all, who knew that there was a proper way to burn a candle? Not until I got in the business of selling candles did I learn that there are actually instructions you should follow to extend the life of these fragrant accessories.

With the help from several of our candle makers, we've compiled a list of some simple things you can do to get the most from your candles. And it starts from the first burn...  

Burn candles for 3 to 4 hours on first use 

The most common mistake people make with new candles is not burning them long enough. The rule of thumb for the first burn is one hour for every inch of candle diameter. Many of our everyday candles are in the 4” diameter range so that would be four hours. If you burn your candle for too short of a time, it can tunnel (burn down unevenly through the center area) which shortens the life of the candle. After the first burn, always allow the entire top layer of wax to melt before extinguishing.

Trim the Wick

Wicks can fray and cluster at the end -- also called ‘mushrooming' -- when not trimmed. Using scissors or a wick trimmer, cut the wick to 1/4 inch prior to burning. A long wick creates a large flame and emits too much smoke. 

Clean soot from the vessel

Wipe out any soot or ash remnants from the inside of the vessel before lighting the candle. If not cleaned, the build up can catch fire and burn. The soot also makes is more difficult to repurpose the vessel when the candle is finished. Use a cotton pad with some water to gently remove the soot and make sure the vessel is completely dry before lighting.

Extinguishing your candle properly

Use a candle snuffer to gently push the wick into the melted wax pool to extinguish and then lift the wick to recenter. If you must blow the candle out, be sure to do so gently so the melted wax doesn’t spray outside the vessel. Let the candle cool completely before relighting.

Don’t burn candles all the way down

Once the wax level gets to ¼ inch, it’s time to retire the candle and repurpose the vessel. For safety reasons, don’t let it burn so far down it exposes the bottom of the wick. 

Safety first

We can't be reminded often enough to never leave lit candles unattended. Also, be sure to place candles on even, heat resistant surfaces and always extinguish them before going to sleep  

By following these guidelines, you will ensure your candles burn cleaner, longer and you'll better preserve your vessels so they may be repurposed as vases, trinket jars or decorative accessories later.  

February 17, 2022 — Kelly Hollingsworth