Candles are absolutely beautiful. They have such a calming presence to them, they look great, and they generally smell incredible.
But one common problem that occurs with candles is tunneling. Tunneling is a problem because it impacts the lifespan of your candle, and it’s also unappealing to the eye.
In this blog post we will explore what causes tunneling and how to stop that from happening. After all, we want to enjoy our little islands of scented joy to their full extent.
Can you fix a tunneled candle?
Did you not find this blog in time, and now you’re left with a beautifully scented candle with a large tunnel down the middle? I would be upset as well that my fresh linen candle has seemed to go to waste, but there may be hope.
First things first, you need to scrape or melt the excess wax that has accumulated in a ring on the sides of your candle. You want to move it towards the center of the candle.
You want to do this so that you can hopefully get it to burn with the rest of the candle, and prevent it from pooling again.
You can easily melt your candle by using a hair dryer to melt the wax down until it’s formed closer to the wick.
The neat thing about candle wax is that once softened you can generally form or push it back into place with ease.
So with a little TLC, you can enjoy those last lingering scents of your fresh linen candle.
Or maybe you can even revive your summer strawberry candle that has been sitting on your kitchen table. Scent on!
Why do they tunnel?
Although cheaper candles are known for being more problematic, (soot, cheap waxes, poorly scented) candle tunneling can happen to any candle, regardless of its price.
High cost candles unfortunately are not immune to this troublesome occurrence, and they are just as likely to tunnel as a candle from the dollar store.
(But honestly they don’t look or smell as lovely as your soy wax Yankee Candle)
This is because, as the flame of the candle burrows farther down to its center towards the middle, the wick will become harder to light.
The end result is that your wick will eventually be drowned by all the excess wax, and no longer be able to burn.
What is tunneling?
What is often not known about candle tunneling is that it can be often prevented, starting with the first burn of your candle.
When your candle is not allowed to burn through the first layer of wax the first time, you have set it up to tunnel.
Wax is often like an elephant’s memory, it doesn’t forget. So when the first layer of wax wasn’t able to burn completely, the candle starts to only burn in the middle.
This results in wasted hours of precious burning time and y our candle ends up being a source of wasted money.
How to make your candle burn evenly
To put it nicely, you may have been burning your candles wrong up until this point in time.
You would think it’s just light and leave it. (Let’s be honest here though, you should never ever leave an open flame alone, fire safety!)
Let’s break down burning candle basics so you can enjoy that cotton candy concoction for the long run.
- The Wick: Each time you burn your candle you should actually trim the wick. You want to trim your wick so it’s 1/8th to 1/4th inches in length.
- You can trim the wick with a specialized wick trimmer, (yes they do exist). or you can cut it with scissors or the easiest and most accessible option: nail clippers. It’s essential to cut the wick because a trimmed wick creates a cleaner and brighter burn.
- When burning a wick that hasn’t been trimmed the flame often takes on a mushroom shape, which dulls and prevents the flame from burning so cleanly.
- Lastly, long untamed wicks are the reason for those unsightly smoke stains that appear on your glass jarred candles. When you keep the wick a proper length your flame becomes more controlled and stops those burn marks from appearing.
- The Wax: As previously mentioned, the first time you burn your candle you should allowthe wax to melt completely across the top. This is so that the complete first layer is properly melted away. This is a time consuming task, so I wouldn’t recommend starting this process if you don’t have a lot of time to kill. But in the age of quarantine, it wouldn’t be so bad to light a candle during your morning zoom call, and keep it burning through lunch.
- When you fail to let the wax melt all the way you contribute to the frustration that is tunneling. When your candle only melts the middle the wick continues to get lower and lower, creating a tunnel through the center of the candle, thus the name.
- Eventually it will get so deep that it becomes almost impossible to light the candle. Not to mention all the wax left pooled on the side is now wasted. It’s hard to dedicate time to the first burn of a candle, but if you do, your candle will continually burn flat, and the sides will remain clean. This allows for full use of your candle.
- Multi-Wick: If you find yourself especially strapped for time and can’t seem to get the first layer of wax to melt all the way, you may want to invest in a candle with multiple wicks.
- This allows for more heat, which results in a quicker wide spread melt for your candle. As a suggestion, you should try to avoid candles that are super wide, and only have one wick. If the candle is more than 3 to 4 inches wide, the one wick will never produce a wide enough spread of heat to burn the entire surface.
- Drafts: The last tip would be to burn your candle away from drafty areas, or areas directly in front of an air conditioner or fan. When a flame is constantly flicked back and forth, the ugly black stains form at a more rapid pace on the sides of your glass or other vessel you use to burn it in. The heat distribution is also affected.