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Friday, 11 January 2013

The Correct Way To Burn Candles

One of the cheapest ways to create ambiance in the home is to have lovely candles lit. ~


When I opened my first home decor shop, I approached a company about carrying their line of upscale candles.  They agreed to be my supplier on the condition that I allowed their representative give me instruction on how to correctly burn a candle.  Duh, I think I know how to do that already.

It turns out this company knew what they were doing.  If someone pays $10 or more for a candle, they will return it if it doesn't meet their expectations.  That looks bad for the company and the shop and, as it happens, I didn't know quite as much as I thought!

You need to trim the wick to no more than 1/4 of an inch in length.  Any longer and the flame is too large.  The heat from the flame will melt the candle at an accelerated rate. This causes excessive wax dripping. ~


If you want to avoid your candle burning too deep rather than evenly across to the outsides, you must burn it as many hours as it is wide each time you light it. ~


This pillar candle is 2 1/2 inches wide and should only be lit if you intend to leave it burning for 2 1/2 hours.  Opt for a smaller candle if you think you will not be having it lit that long.  A 1" or votive candle would be a better choice in that case.

I always trimmed the wicks before I wrapped up my customer's candle purchase.  In six years, I only had one candle returned.  She was a good customer and I promptly refunded her money.  Each day, at work, I lit that candle and burned it for the full 4 hours the width indicated.  It burned evenly to a tiny puddle of wax in the end.  Because this customer knew me so well, I felt comfortable showing her the end result and she became a regular user of the line.

It's important to use the appropriate holder for your candle.  A votive will burn evenly and completely in a container that fits snugly to it's sides.  Too short or too loose a container will cause it to burn too quickly.  The holder on the left is perfect and the one on the right will leave you with a melted mess! ~

 Tea lights need to be left in the metal holder to keep their shape and for fire safety.  You can disguise the metal holder with candle sand, salt, coffee beans, etc. ~


For fire safety and to protect my walls, I always use a sconce with a glass shield.  Candle sand, which is available in a variety of colours, is an extra level of security.  It also lets the melted wax harden and it can be lifted off the sand in a single sheet. ~


If the area is unsafe or if I'll be leaving the candle unattended, I go to battery operated candles  ~


A bobeche is a cup or ring that catches melted wax as it drips down the side of tapers.  You can buy simple ones at department and dollar stores.  This one is from the Victorian era and has lovely crystal prisms.  It's not original to the mercury  glass candlestick but I like the look of them together.  Like the girondelles (mirror backed candle sconces), of the time when all lighting was by candle, they are intended to reflect the light of the flame and double it's effectiveness. ~



I have a habit of tossing all my candles in a drawer and the soft wax picks up all kinds of dust and bits of stuff.  Stretch a pair of pantyhose over your hand and that stuff buffs right off the candle! ~


It's nice to have a long necked candle lighter and a candle snuffer.  If you don't have a snuffer, hold your finger vertically in front of the candle before you blow it out.  That stops the wax from spraying outward from the candle. ~ 



Remember that the flame throws off a lot of heat.  A tight grouping of candles is very pretty but it does cause them all to burn down quicker and less evenly. And, of course, you need to remove the paper labels before you light them. ~


A hurricane protects your candle from drafts and ensures an even burn.  Any heat resistant material will do the job just fine.  I use everything from sealer jars to cut crystal vases.  This HOPE hurricane is a favourite of mine! ~ 


With a few, simple pointers you can get maximum use from your candles and surround yourself with all the beauty and romance of candlelight.

Face it girls, we all look better in the light of a flickering candle! 

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