Your Foolproof Guide to Burning a Candle Correctly 

Burning a candle is easy. Luckily, so is following proper candle care and safety guidelines. Extend the life of your favorite candles, prevent unsightly soot and tunneling, and burn candles like a pro by following these simple tips:

Always trim the wick and check for debris.

Before you light a candle, always trim the wick to ¼ inch and remove any debris left in the wax pool such as wick trimmings or matches. Any debris will add more fuel to the candle than it’s designed to handle. Too much fuel can cause the flame to unexpectedly flare up or even start a small fire near the candle flame. Wicks that are left long or crooked can cause uneven burning, dripping, flaring and sooting. Trimming wicks will help prolong the life of your candle. Your candles will burn up to 25% longer if you trim the wick every couple of hours.

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Get it right the first time.

Just like the first cut is the deepest, that first burn is the most important. Candles should burn one hour for every 1 inch in diameter of the actual candle size. For example, a candle that is 2 inches across should burn for 2 hours. If a candle is not burned for long enough to allow the wax to liquefy or to melt from edge to edge of the container, it will create a “memory ring.” Once a candle has a “memory ring,” it will continue to tunnel for the life of the candle.

Don’t keep candles burning for longer than indicated on the manufacturer’s instructions.

Burning a candle for too long will cause carbon to collect on the wick, leading it to “mushroom.” The wick will then become unstable and produce a dangerously large flame. Plus, your candle will start to smoke and release soot. Avoid this by always following the manufacturer’s instructions. In general, it is recommended that candles do not burn for longer than four hours and cool for at least two hours before relighting.

Keep the flame away from moving air.

When burning a candle, avoid proximity to fans, air conditioners, open windows, or crowded areas with people walking back and forth. Moving air can disturb the flame, resulting in those pesky black marks on the glass.

Store your candles properly.

Store candles in a cool, dark and dry place with the lid on to keep them clean of dust and debris, and to help protect the wax and fragrance. Highly fragrant candles have a life span of 6 to 12 months, depending on the scent. If you enjoy fragranced candles, then use and replace them often to avoid deterioration in appearance and performance.

 
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To learn more about safe candle use, visit NCA’s Fire Safety & Candles page. Happy candle burning!