Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How To Properly Burn A Candle

Some of you may remember my blog post debunking the Triple Scented candle conspiracy. If not, you can read about it HERE. (Knowledge is power!) Today I'm going to give you some tips about the difference between the right and wrong way to burn a candle.

Let me preface this post with the statement that for some candles there is just no hope (there's a reason they sell those candles for $1 at the dollar store or $3 at Walmart). They're made with inferior ingredients, and not properly tested. There's probably not a snowball's chance that the wick used is going to burn one of those candles to the edges. I digress. For a properly made, quality candle, it should burn like the picture shown to the left. The jar is clean, the melt pool is full (meaning it's melted all the way across the top of the jar, with no wasted wax), and this is after letting it burn all day. (I know, I know, you're not supposed to do that, but *cough* don't do what I do, do what I say...) When you're purchasing candles, PLEASE ask the seller questions. If it sounds like they have no idea about wicking or they don't seem particularly knowledgeable and able to answer your questions easily, save your money and move on to the next candle maker. There are hundreds of awesome and responsible candle makers out there, but there are also hundreds that stick any old wick in a jar, pour in some wax and scent, and set up a booth, hoping to make a quick buck. Candle making requires a lot of testing, and there are many that aren't willing to do this, because it costs money. There is such a thing as a wick that's too small, but also it can bee too BIG, which is a fire hazard in itself. Ok ok, I'm getting off my soap box and on with the post....

That is one of my own hand poured candles. I lit it at about 11 AM, and this picture was taken at 8 PM. It was not a brand new candle to begin with, but it was willing and able to help me illustrate my post. Some important things to remember when burning candles:

Be sure to burn the candle at least 1 hour for every inch of diameter to achieve a full melt pool. This candle is 3 1/2" diameter at the widest point. That means, for it to achieve a full melt pool, it should take about 3 hours, maybe a little more. If you're going to leave the house 30 minutes after lighting a candle, it's probably a good idea to hold off until you return. If you only burn a candle for short time, you're creating a 'memory'. The candle will only easily burn to where it's burned before, so you're helping your candle to never achieve full melt pool, and burn creating a tunnel right down the center. Generally, only the first time you burn a candle is it this slow. Subsequent burns are normally quicker to achieve full melt pool.

Be sure to trim your wicks!! After the first lighting of your favorite candle, and before subsequent burning sessions, trim your wick to 1/4". Some candles get a big knobby wick at the top (called a mushroom) that should be trimmed off and thrown away before lighting again. You can do this with scissors, or a fingernail clipper works great also. If your candle is smoking, or the flame is 1" or more high, your wick definitely needs to be trimmed! Please don't leave these wick trimmings or *Gasp* matches in the melt pool of the candle!

You can prime your wick by extinguishing the candle with a wick dipper. A wick dipper is a metal hook that you use to push the wick over into the melt pool and then pull it back up. This eliminates the smoke from extinguishing the candle, and also primes the wick with wax so it's ready to be lit the next time. This is not necessary, but it is pleasant to extinguish a candle with no smoke (and besides, who doesn't like to play with melted wax?).

Never burn your candle in a drafty area. Do not light your candle near drapes or flammable items. Be sure to take all packaging off the jar before lighting the candle (ribbons, tags, etc).

Never leave a burning candle unattended, or near children or pets!

Do not handle a burning candle, as the container will be very hot and could possibly burn you.

Place your candle on a level and heat resistant surface (ask me how I know should see the top of my dresser!) The stove is normally a great place. I also have purchased some cork coasters that you can find in the garden section of stores, I got mine at Big Lots by the potting aisle. These reduce the heat from the bottom of your candle and don't let it transfer to whatever it's sitting upon.

When storing your candles, store them in a cool, dark (and of course dry) place. A linen closet (not in the bathroom) is a great place.

If at any time you have any questions about candles, please feel free to Email me, and I'd be glad to help. I don't claim to know everything, but what i don't know I will research for you!

Happy candle burning!

1 comment:

Lynne Clark BeadyIze Jewelry said...

Ah, you've answered some of my burning questions, Diann! (I'm sorry... I couldn't resist!)

I don't think I ever light one of your candles without it burning many hours a day! Wish I could send you my empties.

Another order will be forthcoming.