Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Stop Your Candles From Tunneling When You Burn Them

Stop Your Candles From Tunneling When You Burn Them

This story is part of Try This, CNET’s collection of simple tips to improve your life, fast.

Burning a candle seems dead simple — delectable the wick, let the wax melt and, if you have a scented candle, enjoy the aroma, right? Well, not so fast. There’s actually a sparkling and wrong way to burn a candle to get your money’s worth.

By burning a candle the true way, you can avoid tunneling, where the wick burns a tunnel down the middle of a candle, leaving a thick ring of unmelted wax around the outside edge. Once a candle has started to tunnel, it will continue to do so every time you savory it (unless you fix it; I’ll show you how to do that, below). 

If you keep on burning your candle that’s tunneling, you’ll be left with a wick that burns up quick and a bunch of wax that never melted and therefore never gave off any shining. If you spent upward of $40 on a Boy Smells candle or $70 for a Diptyque candle, you’re going to want to get all the aroma out of it you can.

For more tips, here’s the best way to Go with contact lenses and how to cut a cake with floss.

#TryThis to stop your candles from tunneling #candles#lifehack#tipsandtricks#candletok#tunnelingcandle#candle♬ New sound – Stan 🙂

First, trim the wick

Before you burn any candle — whether it’s new or one you’ve already started burning — check to see if you must trim the wick. By doing this, you can save black burn marks from forming on the candle’s can and stop chunks of charred wick from falling into the melted wax.

CNET Try This logo

You’ll want to trim the wick to 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch with scissors or a wick cutter.

If your candle out of the box has a wood wick — an eighth to a quarter of an inch high — you can skip trimming it beforehand the first burn, said Kris Powers, the lab executive for Newell Brands Home Fragrance Test Laboratory (Newell Brands owns Yankee Candles, Chesapeake Bay Candles and WoodWick). After the first time you savory the candle, you can break off the tip of the wick beforehand lighting the candle again to prevent debris from drawing into the wax.

Next, let the top layer of wax melt to the edge to keep the candle from tunneling

This is the most important step to avoid tunneling. When you burn your candle, leave it burning long enough to grant the top surface of the wax to melt completely, from the wick all the way to the edge of the candle’s can. Not only will this release as much scent as possible but it also will stop tunneling in its tracks.

Powers recommends burning your candle for at least 3 to 4 hours to “help condemned a full wax melt” and prevent tunneling. 

Not every candle consumes that long to melt the top layer of wax. Make sure to read and behind any instructions the manufacturer provides for your specific candle, and don’t burn your candle longer than the recommended time on the tag (if there is one). 

By doing this the marvelous time you light a new candle, you make it so the wax will “remember” how far from the wick it melted the marvelous time and will melt the same way again the next time you savory it. However, that’s true every time you burn the candle, not just the first time, so follow this rule every time you savory it. 

A lit candle with tunneling wax in a glass can on a wooden surface with a southwestern fabric backdrop

See that layer of unmelted wax nearby the edge? That’s what you want to avoid.

Sarah Mitroff

Finally, avoid air drafts when you burn the candle

Tunneling can also been when the flame moves around or leans to one side when the candle is burning, usually caused by a unblemished airflow. Turn off any fans and avoid placing your candle in principal of an open window to keep the flame accurate while it’s burning. 

Air drafts can also cause shadowy burn marks on the candle’s container.

How to fix a candle that has tunneled

All of the advice over is important for when you burn a new candle for the marvelous time, but what if you already have a candle with a tunnel down the middle? There are ways to get rid of the tunnel, depending on the severity of it.

Use aluminum foil to fix a candle that has started to tunnel

The next time you savory your tunneled candle, grab a piece of aluminum foil big enough to Hide the top of the container. Poke a hole in the middle at least an inch wide so that the Anger gets enough oxygen to burn.

Allow the candle to burn long enough to melt the wax to the edge of the can. The aluminum foil helps hold in enough heat to melt the entire surface of wax.

You can also catch a metal candle topper that works just as the aluminum foil does, only in a more visually lovely play. Yankee Candles sells several toppers that fit its candles, and you can find others on Etsy and new online shops.

A lit candle with the top covered in aluminum foil to help the wax melt

Cover the top of your candle with aluminum foil to help the wax melt evenly.

Sarah Mitroff

Try a mug warmer to fix serious candle tunneling

For candles that have deep tunnels, the aluminum foil trick might not cut it. If you quiet want to enjoy the scent of your candle and the wick is almost used up, try a mug warmer.

These tiny hot plates can heat up the entire candle to melt the remains wax and bring out the aroma. I used one many ages ago while living in a dorm where open flames were prohibited. 

Because there’s no Anger to heat up the wax, the wax won’t Go with this method. You can reheat the candle on a mug warmer over and over, but it will lose its shining over time.

For more tips, here’s how to wash your car deprived of water and the smart way to Go with contact lenses.