I've received a number of questions on candle care so today I'm sharing some simple tips on how I burn and care for your candles. Once you own a luxury candle you will want to burn it and care for it properly in order to get the most out of it's life. I've burned quite a few candles in the past few years and didn't realize until recently that I was burning some of my candles incorrectly.
Question 1: Some of my candles don't burn evenly and tunnel. How do you prevent this?
I just recently discovered the phrase "candle tunneling" which refers to an uneven burn where the wax of the candle near the center/wick melts but the edges do not. Some of my candles haven' burned all the way to the edge for a smooth flat burn while others have - I did not know what caused this. I just found out at a recent trip to a Diptyque store that the first burn is extremely important to prevent tunneling. The reps at the store said that you want to make sure the first time you burn the candle you want to let it burn long enough to melt the entire surface of the candle which can take several hours. Depending on the size of the candle, they recommended about 1 hour per inch in diameter. I thought 30 minutes of burn time would be sufficient to melt the surface of my standard Diptyque candles so I timed it at a few intervals. At 45 minutes the surface was nowhere near being completely melted.
It took a full three hours for the surface of my standard size Diptyque candle to melt and liquify completely and evenly on the surface for the first burn. Jo Malone 7.0 oz candles and Diptyque 6.5 oz candles are very similar in size, after testing the timing for the initial burn, I found they both took about the same time for the surface to melt. Below is a Jo Malone Candle where the diameter is about 3 inches. So the 1 hour burn time per inch of diameter proved to be pretty accurate.
So what do you do if you burned the candle incorrectly the first couple of times? There are a lot of other resources online on how to fix it, but this depends on how deep the tunnel is. If the tunneling is minor I've been able to fix some of mine by burning for a few hours and scooping out the hard unmelted wax around the edges to even out the surface. Other recommendations on Scent Snob and Nouvelle Daily.
In addition to the first burn, to make sure you candle burns evenly, you also need to make sure the wick stays centered. It can migrate sometimes or burn at an angle. Use a sturdy object to re-center or straighten the wick - I've done this while the candle is burning with a small butter knife although I recommend you do this with caution to avoid burning yourself or anything else. It's better to re-center the wick after you've blown out or snuffed the flame. Sometimes I'll push the wick with the tip of scissors. Whatever you use, if you dip it in melted liquified wax, you'll have to clean the item.
Question 2: Why invest in a wick trimmer? Can I just use my regular scissors?
Trimming the candle wick after they burn is important to prevent them from smoking on the next burn or from burning the sides of the glass. It's commonly recommended that you trim them as short as possible without cutting them too short. I trim mine after they've cooled just in case I don't catch the end of the trimmed wick. Sometimes I accidentally drop it into the candle and it ends up getting the melted wax very messy or sinks to the bottom of the liquified portion.
On wick trimmers vs scissors, I find they both work, but it is nice to have a dedicated tool just for trimming wicks. It took me a long time before I splurged on a Diptyque wick trimmer but I've found it well worth the investment and I use it all the time. Now I no longer have to worry about getting my scissors dirty. They also double as a decorative accessory. Wick trimmers are more aesthetically pleasing than basic scissors and I can leave them laying on the coffee table or desk.
Most wick trimmers have a beveled tip which makes it easy to catch the trimmed wick. This is perfect for people like me who find it difficult to balance tiny things on small surfaces.
Question 3: Are accessories like lids or photophores really useful? Or worth it in general? What about candle snuffers?
Some candles come with their own lids. Henri Bendel Travel Candles and full-sized Jo Malone Candles come with lids. Diptyque carries candle lids you can purchase separately. I've received a couple Diptyque lids as gift with purchases before and also purchased several. I find that they work to keep out dust and debris and really help to keep the surfaces clean. Some have asked if it keeps the scent in the candle from fading - if you have input on this I'd be really happy to hear your thoughts. I have had several candles that I left open or in a box over 6 months and found they retained their scent and strength without a lid. With the lids that come from Diptyque, Jo Malone or Henri Bendel, they sit on top of the candle but it won't seal them shut completely so air can still get in and out. I like my lids mainly to keep them clean and dust-free.
Photophores are decorative accents for me. They can be on the pricey side but I do think if you are willing to splurge on something to decorate your home these are very beautiful. I received one from Diptyque as a gift from my husband and really love it. Below is the Large Full Twist option.
One of the candle accessories I don't own yet is a candle snuffer. I've looked at them numerous times at the stores but haven't splurged yet.
Question 4: How do you clean out the wax from the interior to recycle your candles?
If you google how to recycle or clean out candles, you will find a number of different methods. I've shared my personal candle recycling tips before. I don't always get a completely clean burn and there is often remnants of wax on the sides so the freezer method doesn't work for me. I don't like using really hot water because it can impact the stickers on the sides of the jars. I like to use the warm water + dish soap with paper towels or a sponge to soften the wax and clean the interior.
Question 5: What are your all time favorite candles?
I've purchased quite a few different candles, each time I go to a Diptyque store or visit Henri Bendel I discover something new. Personal favorites change depending on time of year. My most frequently repurchased candles include:
Diptyque Figuier, Baies and Aubepine
Jo Malone Vanilla & Anise and French Lime Blossom
Henri Bendel Pomegranate, Fig, Vanilla Bean, Beach
I also really like Frederic Malle, Byredo and Lumira candles as well, but for me they are harder to find so I don't purchase them as frequently as I would like to.
I hope you found this candle care post helpful! If you have any tips you'd like to share please do so in the comments! What are your favorite candles or scents?