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! 

I'm sharing with:  Make It Pretty MondayThursday Favorite Things Blog HopTransformation ThursdayWildly Original Link Party


  1. Yes we do! I love candles, it's was my one luxury but I haven't had them on since Madeleine was born. The panty hose trick is awesome!

  2. Holy smokes! I thought I knew about candles too, but obviously not! I always get so mad when my big candles don't burn I know why! I never knew about the width rule! Thank you for this extremely informative post and I am going searching for candle sand!

  3. Who would have thought! Amazing!! When i started to read i wasn't sure how you would fill a whole blog post writing about lighting candles. Now I know all I didn't know :-). Especially loved the tip about the length of time they have to burn.

  4. I have to agree with everyone else. Who knew all these great tips? The only one I knew was the wick length lol. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Wow-za!! That was informative. I love burning candles but I never think to trim the wick. I never knew that about the length of time for burning your pillar candles. I am going to try that out tonight. Great tips Maureen.

  6. I do always trim my wicks because the instructions say so, but how come the companies don't just make the wick the appropriate size in the first place? Dumb question?


  7. Great post Maureen! Wonderful info. I did know about trimming the wick but didn't know about burning the candle the length of time of the width. Such an interesting fact! I don't burn lots of candles but I have a friend who does and I'll share this info with her.
    hugs, Linda

  8. Like most everyone else I knew to trim the wick, but didn't know the width/hours of burning rule either. I prefer soy candle because they don't soot up the house. LOVE the bobeche! Thanks for these tips.

  9. I'm so impressed with your expertise. Most of this is new to me. Thanks for explaining why I get a hole in the middle of my pillar candles. Also, I notice that any draft will cause a candle to burn too fast.

  10. Great tips Maureen. I love your knowledge and you were willing to share.

  11. iam really impressed with your candle-burning knowledge! i learned some useful things. :)

  12. I burn tons of candles thanks for the tips. I didnt know about trimming the wick, very interesting.
    great post.

  13. Hi Maureen...this is a wonderful post. I learned a lot and thank you.
    I love you know that if you put a little water in the bottom of the container, the melted wax won't stick to your pretty holder.
    xo bj

  14. Maureen, these are fabulous tips!! The tip about the length of time to burn a pillar candle is definitely one I'll remember.
    Mary Alice

  15. Great tips! Thanks for the one about the length of time to burn a pillar.
    Popping over from The Dedicated House.

  16. Who knew? Thanks for the candle burning tips, I'd never heard about the length of time in regards to the width of the candle. You're a pro!

  17. Thank you for the great tips! I had no idea about any of these! You "glow" girl!

  18. What great information! I didn't know there was a minimum time you should have one lit. Thanks for sharing!

  19. This is great. I love the panty hose trick! So smart!! I really need drip trays for a candelabra I have. I either don't find them when I look or forget when I am in a shop that might ave them!! I should check out Etsy :) Thanks!

  20. I love the look of candles I use them in my decorating quite a bit. Thank you for all of the great tips. xo and thank you for sharing at the hop.

  21. Fantastic tips. I burn candles frequently and really don't give this much thought to how I burn them. Using these tips will save me from wasting my candles by burning them too fast. Thanks.

  22. I didn't know there was a correct way to burn a candle, but I do now. Thanks for such great tips!

  23. Wow! What great tips! There's nothing better than candlelight. I never knew there were ways to prolong the life of my candles. I'm now following through GFC.

  24. That was the most informative post ever! I soaked up every word. I've often wondered why my candles burned all wonky... Thanks!