We create candles to bring beauty, artistry, fragrance, and peace into your space. In order for your candles to be enjoyed to the fullest, then you need to know what you can do to burn them to their best potential.
Use our Candle Care Tips to keep flames burning longer and extend the life of your votive, pillar, or soy wax candle with these Dos and Don’ts.
How to Correctly Burn Your Candle for the First Time
Candle care starts when you first purchase your candle! These tips will help you avoid common problems like soot on the glass, “tunneling” and what to do with your stand-alone pillar candles. Read further to make sure you are getting the most out of your candle purchase!
Know What Kind of Candle You Are Lighting
A soy container candle burns differently than a Pillar Candle. To burn your candle correctly, you need to know what kind of candle you are lighting. Soy candles are always contained inside of a vessel or container because soy wax is too soft to stand alone.
When searching for vintage glass pieces to pour our soy wax candles into, we always ensure the glass is thick enough to withstand the heat of the wax. Fortunately, the softness of the wax and its water solubility make soy candle containers easily washable!
Votive and Pillar Candles stand alone and are known for their exceptional ability to throw fragrance! These candles need a tray or plate to burn on. One of the reasons for this is that our candles are filled with as much fragrance as the wax will hold and that fragrance will leave a mark on your unprotected table or furniture.
Trim the Wick Before Use
It is important to trim the wick after each burn of your candle. Have you ever noticed after burning a candle that the wick takes on a mushroom shape at the top?
Trimming the wick to about ¼” in length will allow the candle to burn more evenly. A cleanly trimmed wick will also allow the candle to burn without creating black soot marks on the glass container.
Wicks that are able to burn at a proper vertical angle with enough length will help avoid a lot of candle problems.
Our solution for this is our new custom Outer Banks WICK TRIMMERS!
Candle Care Gift Set$34.95
Let the Wax Burn Evenly from Edge to Edge
When you first light your soy candle, it’s important to allow enough burn time that the wax melts to the edge of the jar. Soy wax has a “memory” and will burn to the same distance each time.
If you do not allow enough time for the candle wax to melt, then you are more likely to cause “tunneling” of your wick. Tunneling occurs when the candle wax melts into a center column leaving the wax surrounding the wick solid. This creates a deep vertical column and limits the life of your candle.
*Candles burn best when burned for 2 – 4 hours at a time.
The Dos and Don’ts of Candle Care
There’s a right and a wrong for everything, even candles! See below for all of our candle DOs and DONTs that will make you a successful candle owner.
Use our Candle Burning Do’s & Don’t Infographic as a guide for burning your candles safely and efficiently.
Do: Use A Candle Holder for Votives & Pillar Candles
Candles that are not made in a container, like votives and pillars, need to be burned in or on something. Votive and pillar candles are both free-standing candles.
Votive candles are created to liquefy as they burn. For this reason, they are meant to be burned in a small, snug-fitting container. Not doing so will result in a dreadful candle puddle!
By placing your votive in a votive holder, it will burn like one of our glass jar candles and then can be easily cleaned to use again.
We have several great options for votive candle holders, like our RECYCLED GLASS VOTIVE HOLDER or our beachy DRIFTWOOD VOTIVE HOLDER.
And don’t forget you get a free votive candle with every order! Consider one of our votive holders a great investment if you’re a candle lover!
Recycled Glass Votive Holder$7.95
Driftwood Votive Holder$14.95
Pillar candles can be burned on small, flat trays or plates that extend beyond the circumference of the pillar itself. It’s important that the dish is on a flat surface so that the candle burns evenly and doesn’t drip or worse, tip over.
We recommend using tea cup plates, cake stands, ceramic tiles, or coasters for your pillar candles.
Don’t: Burn Near Flammable Objects or a Drafty Area
When lighting a candle, make sure it is in a safe place away from any strong drafts or flammable items. Burning a candle near an open window or fan causes the flame to dance around creating an uneven burn, and soot on the container.
It is ideal when burning a candle to trim the wick properly and make sure the flame remains vertical while lit. We call it good candle safety.
Do: Keep Your Candle Free of Soot & Debris
Keeping your candle free of soot and debris is an important maintenance tip for once again extending the life (and attractiveness) of your candle! If your glass container starts to show black soot marks, make sure you are burning your candle away from strong breezes that cause the flame to lean or move.
The soot can be washed off easily by wiping the rim of the UNLIT candle with a damp cloth. Secondly, make sure the wick has been trimmed and any wick trimmings or used matches should be properly disposed of in the trash and not into the melted wax of your candle.
Obstacles in the wax will cause an uneven burn and waste a lot of valuable time. It might also detract from the fragrance of your candle and its overall appearance.
Don’t: Store in Extreme Temperatures
When stored properly, our candles are made to have a shelf life of several YEARS! Do not be tempted to store your unfinished holiday candles in the attic or garage during the off-season. The extreme heat will surely result in candle soup!
It is best to store your candles in a cool, dry, and dark space, such as a closet. This will keep them fresh, as well as protect them from any color changes caused by extended exposure to UV light. Then you can pull them out to enjoy when the season – or the mood- is right!
Do: Know When it is Time to Retire or Recycle your Vessel
As your candle reaches the end of its lifespan, you will be left with a minimal amount of wax on the bottom of the vessel. If you’re at the bottom of the candle and the wick has become difficult to light or continues to extinguish itself when lit then you have reached the end of the road with your beloved candle.
And now it’s time to retire, recycle or repurpose your container!
Don’t: Let Tunneling Stop You
Do not let a tunneling wick cause you to give up prematurely on a candle! There is a way to fix this problem!
Start with preventative care: allow enough time for the initial burn to activate the soy wax “memory”, keep your wick trimmed to a proper length, and make sure you burn your candle away from any strong air currents.
If tunneling does occur, you can fix it easily by scooping out the wax around the tunnel with a spoon until you have a somewhat level surface in your candle. Discard the excess wax and your candle should be ready to light again and burn evenly!
Do: Wash Your Vessel and Reuse It
You get the MOST life out of your candle by washing the old wax out of the glass and repurposing it in your home! Soy wax is very easy to wash out and can be done in a few easy steps.
- Start by scraping the remaining wax from the bottom of the candle vessel into the trash using a spoon. Be sure to also pull the wick from where it is attached to the bottom of the glass. If any wick sticker residue remains, it can be removed with Goo-Gone or a vinegar soak.
- Once you have removed all excess wax, use warm soapy water to wash away any remnants.
- When it’s dried off you’re ready to repurpose your Mason Jar or Vintage Glass!
You can recycle or reuse your candle vessel as a flower vase, pencil holder, drinking glass, or as a storage container for your collections like seashells and sea glass!
Kimber Smith is the creative founder of The Outer Banks Candle Company. With a degree in art, she has dabbled in many art forms from oil painting to calligraphy to furniture refinishing. And when she’s not busy making candles or managing the high energy (chaos) of life with five kids, she enjoys writing about the journey of it all!