As we developed our pillar candles to be non-drip they don’t burn in the usual way a pillar candle does, which surprises some people especially when you first light them.
What a lot of people don’t know is that the first time you light a candle this is the most important burn of them all because, believe it or not, wax has a memory, so if you only burn the candle for a short time creating a small melt pool of wax around the wick, then in future burns the melt pool will not increase in size and the candle is likely to tunnel.
And for anyone who has had a tunnelling candle before - where there is excess unmelted wax around the outside so that the flame travels down into the depths of the candle getting smaller and smaller as it goes until it can’t be relit - it’s not a total disaster because it can be fixed, but it is a bit of a faff. I’ll give you some tips about that a little later.
The crucial first burn
On the first burn it’s best to burn our single wick candles for around 3 hours (never more than 4) or until the melt pool is more than ¾ of the width of the candle, but never the full width of the candle unless you’re a fan of cascading molten wax on future burns. Our 3-wick candle should be burnt until all 3 melt pools join to form one, but again be extinguished when it still has a small ring of unmelted wax around the edge.
The unmelted ring of wax around the edge of all our candles is important and should slowly but surely melt down in future burns with the wax being drawn into the centre of the candle (rather than over the edge) without drowning the wick.
Before relighting your candle ensure you trim your wick to around 4-5mm and remove any debris (bits of matches and wick) from the top of the candle. If it’s been a while since you lit your candle you should also give it a quick dust. If the wick is leaning to one side, then straighten it so that the heat is distributed evenly across the top of your candle when lit.
If at any point during the burn the flame starts to flicker and dance wildly this is a sign that the wick is too long, so simply blow it out, trim the wick and relight. Another sign that a wick is too long is if the candle puffs any smoke - again simply blow out, trim and relight.
When we pour the candles we firstly pour the small foot that the candle sits on and set the wick into this to ensure it is central in the candle. This means that your candle will be finished just above the level of the candle foot. You will not be able to burn down to the base of the foot.
Tips and tricks
Firstly let’s deal with any pesky pillar candles that have tunnelled:
If your candle has just started to tunnel, then you can do a quick fix by laying the candle on its side and using a match or lighter to melt any wax build up around the wick. Once molten, wipe away this excess wax (or pour into a wax melter to enjoy the fragrance) and then relight the candle and burn it until the melt pool has reached its widest point.
If the wick has become too short or has disappeared underneath the wax completely you need to scrape away and remove the extra wax to rescue your wick from beneath. This is best done on hardened wax by using the edge of a spoon or a butter knife. (It can also be done using a cotton bud to soak up excess molten wax, but this option is a bit messier and obviously blow out the flame first! Whichever way you do it, be careful not to damage the wick and make sure you remove enough wax to have at least 5mm of wick above the wax surface to burn evenly again.
You can prolong the life of your candle by gently hugging the rim of the candle after each burn when the wax has cooled down, but is still pliable. You can do this by cupping your hands together and gently folding the wax inwards. This helps bring any excess wax closer to the flame ready for the next burn. If the side walls of your candle are thin (so that the wax looks translucent when burning) then you do NOT need to do this.
Any left over wax doesn’t need to be wasted. You can sprinkle some flakes into the top of another candle (just don’t add too much and drown the wick) or you can put it in a wax melter to enjoy the fragrance. (Please note that the feet of our pillar candles are poured using unfragranced soy wax).
If you have any wax residue left in your concrete holder once the candle is finished, you can remove this in one of 2 ways:
1. Pour boiling water on to the wax to melt it and as the water cools the wax will rise to the surface and can be removed.
2. Pop the concrete base in the freezer for a few minutes and then the wax should be easy to peel off.
I always strive to produce the perfect candles for you, testing sample candles each time we use a new batch of wax or fragrance.
However the science of candle-making is a complex one and the success of the end result can be determined by a change in the temperature outside or a degree of difference in the candle pouring temperature inside and so, if you are the recipient of a badly behaving candle and need some advice on what to do, I’m always here to help as best I can.
Simply email me here.
Candles are such a beautiful home accessory to have. They can be magical, relaxing, powerful or sensual. They can change a space by adding drama and ambience. They can lift a downcast spirit or calm a frazzled mind.
I love making them and in return all I wish is that you have a long and happy time burning them.