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Lighting a candle may appear simple—just it’s wax and a wick, after all—but if you want to get the most burn for your buck, things become a little more complicated. Every candle has a predetermined lifespan, and even minor changes in your burning ritual can jeopardise that number. Fortunately, there are a few sneaky tricks you can use to increase your flame time. Because buying nice candles is an investment, we asked the pros at Candellana how to burn a candle evenly, as well as how to avoid some of the most common candle mistakes.
You haven’t trimmed your candle wick.
How many of you have noticed that after a while, wicks develop a mushroom top? That’s normal, but it’s not the most efficient way to light a candle. Always trim the wick to a quarter inch before burning to ensure a clean, even burn-anything higher results in a large, flickering flame that leaves soot specks around the jar’s side. You can do this with standard scissors, but if your candle container is shaped in such a way that it’s difficult to get the blades all the way into the jar, a wick trimmer, such as in the Candle Accessory Set (£13.99; at candles online), may be easier to use.
You aren’t burning long enough.
You’ve burned and dried your candle, but it still doesn’t look right. Where did it all go wrong? If your wax is lumpy or has a large pit in the centre (this is known as tunnelling), you most likely did not burn your candle long enough. Because candles have a burn memory, make sure to burn your candle all the way to the vessel’s edge every time you light it (around two hours). If the wax at the candle’s edge does not heat up and liquefy, it will only expand to that small ring in the middle the next time you light it, wasting all of the peripheral wax.
You’re not paying attention to what’s going on around you.
The environment is also crucial. Keep burning candles away from vents, fans, and draughts. Because of these air currents, candles burn unevenly and scent does not spread evenly throughout the room. It can also emit a lot of smoke, which can leave unsightly black stains on your container. Keep your candles away from the walls, as the heat or soot may leave an unsightly black mark.
You’re extinguishing the candle flame.
You might think candle snuffers are archaic items that nobody actually uses, but they do indeed serve a purpose. Blowing out the flame like the wolf in The Three Little Pigs will result in a smoke-filled area, drag soot on the container, and possibly push the wick down into the wax (creating damage when dug back out). Instead, using a candle snuffer (£9.99; at candles online)-to extinguish the flame will keep the wick in place.