The Candle Burning Guide You Didn’t Know You Needed

For those of us who love the aroma of a brand-new candle, it may come as a surprise to hear that there is a right way and a wrong way to burn that wick. It should be as easy as letting it burn, right? But I’ll let you in on a secret—you’ll get much more use (and fragrance) out of your favorite candles if you take a more nuanced approach. Here is the candle-burning guide you didn’t know you needed.

That first burn needs to be lengthy…

More often than not, the second you get a candle home, you want to light it and smell that captivating new scent. When lighting your candle for the first time, you should be burning long enough for a full, even layer of wax to melt (1-4 hours, depending on the size of your candle). If you burn the candle for too little time, you can create an uneven layer of wax (or a dreaded tunnel) that will impact future burns and prevent you from using the candle to its fullest extent.

…but not too long

The general rule of thumb is, if you are burning a candle for more than four hours, you’re burning it too long. A long burn can cause the candle to overheat, potentially damaging the surface it is sitting on, or can result in the movement of your wick, which can also result in uneven future burns.

Despite your love for a scent, avoid burning your candle for hours on end. You’ll prolong the life of the candle and—get this—a candle’s fragrance is most pure and diffusive after the flame is extinguished, while the liquid wax is cooling. If you want the scent to last all day, let a layer of the wax melt for an hour, let it cool, and repeat the process.

Don’t blow out your candle

Blowing out candles is a candle-burning faux pas. Instead, snuff them out every time.

Blowing your candles out releases black ash into the air and into the wax surrounding your candle’s wick, which can negatively impact your next burning experience. So, rather than blowing out your candles after use, you should always be snuffing them out, whether with a snuffer or simply by putting the lid on your candle.

Trim the wick

Your candle, despite popular belief, needs attentive care between every burn. Before you burn your candle for the first time and after the wax is solid after burning, trim the wick to about a quarter-inch before your next burn. Without this trim, your burn is more likely to be smoky and uneven or create soot around the candle’s container. Whether you rely on a trusty pair of scissors or invest in a wick-cutter, make sure the cut is even for optimal results.

These candle-burning guidelines will enhance your next experience to ensure you get maximum use and scent out of your favorite votive.

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