Candle Care Basics: 3 Ways to Make Your Candles Last Longer and Burn Cleaner

Candle Care Basics: 3 Ways to Make Your Candles Last Longer and Burn Cleaner

If you're a regular candle burner like me, chances are you already know the basics of caring for your flaming goods to make them burn longer and stay soot-free. In case you're like, "wait, you don't just light the thing and blow it out until it's gone?" – then, keep reading for some key tips and quick tricks you can do every time you light up. It might not change your life, but your candles will thank you. 

1. Trim your wicks

Even if you're new to candles (or new to taking care of them) you've likely seen some overpriced, scissor-like contraption with bent tips called a wick trimmer. In all seriousness, I have too many of these to count because as silly as they seem, those bent tips are on purpose and work great, especially for catching the burnt and sooty trimmed ends of your wicks. Do yourself a favor a buy one. Or, use scissors, but you'll see the difference. 

You'll notice every LaVela candle has a reminder to trim the wick to ¼ of an inch before lighting. Ok, you don't need to get out a ruler and measure exactly .25 in., but start to get a feel for eyeballing what that looks like and remember to trim those wicks before lighting the candle each and every time. Why? There's actually a few different reasons.

For one, it keeps each burn clean, making sure any burnt wick debris doesn't fall into your candle wax while it melts. Although we use lead-free cotton and clean-burning wood wicks, lighting a candle ignites a chemical reaction called combustion, which commonly results in smoke and soot. Trimming your wicks reduces the material you are lighting and helps ensure a more steady and clean burn. You'll not only reduce (or hopefully avoid) the lovely and messy black residue that tends to appear on unkempt candles, but you'll also get a more even burn that extends the lifetime of your candle. 

 2. Don't burn too long (or too short)

Yep, just like Goldilocks, there's a time frame for how long to burn each candle that's just right. For a 6-9 oz candle, we recommend about 2-3 hours per burn. Please, never burn for more than four hours at a time, that's just dangerous and asking for trouble. 

It's also just as important to plan your burn sesh so that it's not cut too short. Make sure you let the candle achieve a fully-melted, top-most layer before extinguishing. Why? You may have noticed certain candles that don't fully burn to the edge of the jar. While this isn't always caused by putting out the candle too soon, there's a good chance it is. This effect is called tunneling. Wax has a memory and when you go to light a candle again, it learns to melt only to the edge of the last melt pool. If that isn't the full diameter of the candle, then your next burn will continue the tunnel.

Don't worry there's a pro hack for this one if you've had a sudden need to put out your candle. Grab a crafting heat gun (you may have seen some TikTok "hacks" with tin foil but we don't recommend this for safety and other reasons) and gently melt the top most layer of the unlit candle. Think of this as a hard reset on your candle's wax memory.

3. Be mindful of location, location, location

And we're not talking real estate. This sounds obvious, but don't leave candles outside. Even the outdoor-only citronella ones. Of course, you can enjoy your candles outside when it's dry and calm, but store them inside when not in use, out of the sun and away from any water. Made of plant oils, waxes and water do not mix. Plus, many waxes start to melt at temperatures achieved just from sunlight itself. Don't believe me? Here's a pic of two candles from the same batch, both I left inside, but one was placed in the sunny garden window above my kitchen sink. Direct sun + candles = not a good look.

two candles side by side for comparison 

So, to say the least, indoor placement is just as important. Avoid areas in direct sunlight (*note to self, remember your own advice), and also avoid areas that are in the direct path of HVAC air flow or vents, near other heat or cooling sources, and away from drafty windows and doors. Why? It not only makes your candles less attractive, but you're affecting the integrity of the wax. Plus, direct hot or cold air flow when a candle is lit can affect the flame for an uneven or extra sooty burn.

Candle care fundamentals

Don't forget to practice everyday candle safety in your home along with these tips. As tempting and innocuous as it feels to light a candle in the bathroom or kitchen after a smelly event and leave it unattended, just don't do it. Enjoy your candles. Be present with them. And, if you're looking for something you can set-and-forget, check out our skin-safe room, linen, and body mists.

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