Interiors, Lifestyle

Why you’ve been burning candles wrong.

Why you've been burning candles wrongI’m not a ashamed to admit that I have a candle burning obsession.

Nothing makes a room feel cosier than soft glowing candle light. They’re just so fantastic for adding interesting shapes, colours and scents to a room and I’m absolutely addicted to buying them.  So imagine my surprise when I realised that there is quite an art to candle burning. In fact I’d been burning them completely wrong my whole life! Mind blown.  

I’m imagining that you’ve arrived at this blog post with a touch of cynicism.

You’re thinking, go on then – enlighten me, how exactly have I been burning candles wrong my whole life? (tilts head and flashes sarcastic grin)

Well, I get it! I was like you once, I thought candle burning was a pretty straight forward task. Simply light the candle with a match or lighter then, if it’s scented, sit back and enjoy the fragrant aroma and marvel as it flickers on your window sill. So pretty!


Let me tell you some tips that will blow your mind and turn you from candle clueless to candle connoisseur.

Wax Memory

The first burn is critical because wax has the memory of an elephant and will repeat the same pattern every time you burn it. The entire top layer needs to melt all the way to the edges, to get the best possible fragrance and prevent tunnelling.

Tunnelling is when the candle only burns down the centre and leaves a ring of hard, unmelted wax around the outside. This means that you won’t get as much burning time as you should and we can’t have that!

If tunnelling has already occurred, there’s a simple solution. Wrap tin folded around the perimeter of the candle in a dome shape, whilst it’s burning and wait for an hour or so. This youtube tutorial gives a good demonstration of the technique.

Why you're burning candles wrong - girl about townhouse

Trim the wick

There should be no need to trim the wick on the first burn, but before you burn it again you should trim the wick to just over half a centimetre. Ensure that you remove any trimmings afterwards and the candle surface is clean. Any dust or debris will cause the glass to blacken or the candle to flicker and hiss. Not relaxing.

Ideal burn time

You should burn your candle 1 hour for every 1 inch in diameter. Don’t burn for longer than 4 hours at a time, as this could result in a carbon deposit on the wick (looks a bit like a mushroom) which will cause soot to gather.  

Flame too low or too high

If either of these scenarios occur, extinguish the candle and trim the wick carefully before lighting again.

Keep it clean

Believe it or not, an old pair of tights are ideal for cleaning a candles. Who knew? 


Some candles come in the prettiest glasses and can easily be re-purposed as storage for pens or make up brushes. Pour boiling water into the glass and stir to encourage the wax to melt and push the wick up. Once the water cools the wax should be easy to remove from the top of the glass.    

Now consider yourself the jedi master of candle burning! You’re fully qualified to purchase that fancy Jo Malone candle you’ve always wanted or the Diptyque Baies one, that nobody is entirely sure how to pronounce (is that just me?).

Why you've been buring candles wrong - girl about townhouse

As it’s Christmas next month I thought I would share my favourite festive candles to suit all budgets:


Ikea Gingerbread Candle, £2.50


Yankee Candle, Snow in Love, large £21.99


The White Company, Winter, large £55

What’s your favourite candle right now? Let me know in the comments.


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Why you've been burning candles wrong - Girl about townhouse

Cuddle FairyOne Messy Mama

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8 Comment

  1. Reply
    November 9, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    HA! Enjoyed this.

    1. Reply
      November 9, 2016 at 4:30 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it Debbie, thanks for stopping by.

  2. Reply
    November 10, 2016 at 1:44 am

    Interesting, my candles tunnel all the time. Doming it with tin foil is going to save me a lot of money, my method was getting annoyed and tossing them. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Reply
      November 10, 2016 at 9:23 am

      Ha ha, I was exactly same. It works great!

  3. Reply
    One Messy Mama
    November 14, 2016 at 1:55 am

    I love smelly candles. This is great advice! I have learnt something new! #globalblogging

    1. Reply
      November 14, 2016 at 10:05 am

      Thank you. You can never have enough scented candles!

  4. Reply
    Nikki Frank-Hamilton
    November 19, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    Okay, you got me. I’m doing it wrong. I do trim the wicks, but I am getting tunneling when I burn candles. I’m definitely going to check out the video, I hate to shorten the time I have to enjoy the scent! Thanks.

    1. Reply
      November 20, 2016 at 8:23 am

      Yes, give it a try! I’ve managed to get my candles to burn evenly using that trick.

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