Updated at: 26-05-2022 - By: Helen Skeates

For those of you who enjoy candles in general or scented ones, you know that they’re not all plain sailing. Even candles, as simple as they are, have their own set of challenges to deal with when it comes to using them and getting the most out of them. In this section, we will tell you how to rescue a dwindling candle.

What is candle tunnelling?

Candle tunnelling occurs when a candle burns down its center, leaving hard wax around the perimeter…. If you’re a fan of fragrant candles like us, you’ll consider this wastage of wax a genuine waste.

The wick will grow more and more difficult to light as the flame gets deeper into the wax, and it will eventually be completely submerged.

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No matter how expensive or high-quality a candle is, tunneling can occur. However, there are numerous ways to ensure that your scented candles burn evenly and efficiently, with as little residual wax remaining at the end of the burn.

How to prevent candle tunnelling

It’s all in the first burn…

Using a new candle for the first time can have a significant impact on how well it lasts.

For the initial burn, we strongly advise that you keep the flame burning until the wax pool reaches the edges of your candle. Wax pools should be at least 1cm deep around the outside before they are set out.

With an hour to spare, choose a smaller-sized fragranced candle to get the most out of your new investment. A huge three-wick candle, on the other hand, is an excellent option if you plan to relax in the smell for at least half a day. There will be additional information about choosing the proper candle size for you on our site soon.

We usually recommend trimming the wick before lighting a candle. In the case of a large candle, you may wish to leave the wick longer than normal. By increasing the size and intensity of the flame, you have a better chance of melting the wax to its very edges. Always keep a close eye on the flame and put it out if it gets out of control.

Initial Burn Times By Candle Width

Using this as a rough guide, it’s preferable to keep burning until the melted wax pool reaches the outer border of the container.

The First Burn Top Tips

  1. The first time you light the candle, allow the wax to pool to the candle’s edges.
  2. For every inch of width, let the candle burn for about an hour.
  3. The wick should be trimmed to 8mm before burning the candle if it is particularly wide.
  4. Repeating this method of burning every now and then will help maintain the wax open and evenly distributed.

How To Fix Candle Tunnelling

If you’re reading this because one of your favorite scented candles has developed tunneling, you’re not alone. There are a few things you can do to salvage the candle, depending on how serious the tunneling has grown.

My Candle Has Just Begun To Tunnel

The first burn is critical, as it establishes the candles’ “memory.” When you light a candle for the first time, the wax creates a memory ring that serves as a guide for future burns.

Tunneling will commence if the wax pool is not allowed to reach the edge during the first burn, resulting in a smaller than optimal memory ring. Resetting the candle’s memory, if caught in time, will allow the wax to reopen to its full width.

To quickly re-adjust the memory ring, hold the airflow over the top of the candle until the top layer of wax has melted and smoothed out using a powerful hairdryer on high heat.

Make sure the wax pool is at least as far out from the candle’s center as indicated for the perfect first burn when lighting it again.

Using the foil approach may be necessary if the tunneling is more than a few millimeters deep.


It is hoped that the foil approach will help to melt the remaining hard wax on the sides of the candle by increasing the heat trapped at the top.

It’s a simple process, but it must be done with caution because the foil can get very hot. Keep in mind, however, that the increased heat can strain the candle container, causing it to break.

Light your candle properly first. In order to avoid burning yourself, carefully cover a domed lid of aluminum foil around the top of the candle.

As a result, the heat is retained and the hard wax rims on the sides may be melted more easily. Depending on the size of the candle, you should have an evenly distributed wax pool and a re-set candle within an hour or so of starting. Take care when removing the foil because it will be extremely hot.

My Candle Tunnelling Is Really Bad

It’s possible your candle can’t be saved if you’ve tried the methods listed above and they didn’t work. The good news is that you still have options for getting your fix of scented wax.


Where can I find one? Your new best friend if you want to savour the aroma of long-gone candles.

Electric heaters, such as candle warmers, provide the fragrance of burning candles without the use of a flame. Scent can be released into the room as the wax is slowly warmed by this votive warmer.


Just take your old, scented candle wax (you can read how to get rid of it here) and place it on the tealight burner to get started using it. Adding water to the wax is a bad idea. A tealight is then placed in the burner’s base and the flame is allowed to warm up the wax above, dispersing the scent throughout.

How to Save a Candle When It’s Tunneling

In some cases, tunneling occurs when a candle burns out or leaves an unburned portion of its outer mantle. To avoid this, burn the candle long enough at the beginning to completely melt the wax. During the first burn, a larger wax pool influences the candle’s lifespan.

The first wax pool will not be melted by subsequent burns. When it does not melt close enough to the edge, tunneling may occur. Is there a way to remedy this?

The first or “memory” burn of a fresh candle should last one hour for every inch of its diameter. As a result, a 3-inch diameter candle’s first burn time should be at least three hours. The wax pool should approach the edges before the starting fire is extinguished.

You can “hugg” the candle to fix any tunneling that has occurred but has not yet progressed too far. Push the brittle wax rim toward the heat to melt it. But what if the digging is so deep that “hugging it” won’t work?

When the wax is still warm, you can use a sharp knife to shave off the excess. To avoid damaging the rim, use extreme caution. Otherwise, there’s a chance the wax will start dripping.

How to Save a Candle When It’s Melting Sideways

Another problem you’ll face is that the candle will start to melt in the wrong direction, but you can avoid it. For a bright and clean burn, first trim your wick to the proper length. It’s recommended that you cut after four hours of burn time and every 14 inches in length.

Wick trimmers are useful whether you’re a candle fanatic or just want to keep your candles in good shape. When tunneling is severe enough that decreasing the wick isn’t enough, there are a number of alternatives that can be used instead. When it comes to heat transfer, aluminum foil is unbeatable.

To employ this technique, simply wrap a piece of aluminum foil around the rim of your candle container. Make sure it thoroughly covers the accumulation while yet allowing the candle to burn properly. Avoid reaching too close to the flames with the foil, as oxygen is the fuel for the flames.

For best results, let the candle burn for at least two hours. Candles can also be baked in the oven. Remove the container’s labels and preheat the oven to 175°F.

Over the course of about five minutes, the accumulated wax will melt and be dispersed. Ensure that the wicks are free of any extra wax before placing the pots on the cooling rack. Because it necessitates constant supervision, this is a less frequent way of melting candles.

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However, using aluminum foil will speed up the process, so give it a try. A candle’s container may shatter if it is heated in an oven. It will walk you through the steps of removing your oven’s hot wax and glass.

Consider whether or not the danger is worth taking. A candle snuffer, in addition to a wick trimmer, is useful for putting out a candle flame. When you extinguish a candle, the hot wax won’t spatter out of the jar.

How to Save a Candle If Its Flame Is Too Large

Is your candle’s flame very large? Burning time is wasted when a candle has a large flame, which signals that it will burn faster and hotter. Unfortunately, it also poses a higher level of safety risk.

In addition to posing an increased risk of fire, increased heat can break glass. A long wick is the most typical cause of a large flame. The wick of your candle should be reduced to 1/4 of an inch before each use.

How to Save a Candle If the Wick Has the Appearance of a Mushroom

As a result of the mushrooming of candles, smoke or soot is produced in the candles. For the most part, this happens when you keep your candles burning for more than four hours at a time. When they are placed in an area with a lot of dust, it also happens.

This layer of partially burned materials, called as a “mushroom,” forms a carbon cap at the top of the wick. So the answer is to never keep your candles burning for more than four hours at a time. Even if you have to relight and cut the wick every three hours, they’ll still last.

How to Save a Candle If The Candlewick is Drowning in Wax

It’s possible for a candle’s wick to drown if it’s submerged in wax. As a result, the wick is no longer lighted when the wax pool encircles it. Tunneling or shorter burn durations are the most common causes of how to cure it.

Make things right by lighting a candle and leaving it burning for at least two or three hours. A Q-tip will come in handy at this point. After the wick is lit, use a Q-tip to apply the wax to the Q-tip, dipping one end into the fresh wax pool.

This exercise tries to save the wick by absorbing as much of the newly melted wax as feasible. It’s a risky move, so proceed with utmost caution. Keep the Q-tip away from the candle’s flame at all times.

Use your Q-tip just to make direct touch with the molten wax. Remove the tip as quickly as possible and blow out the flames. The candle should perform perfectly after this change.

9 Handy Tips For Anyone Who Owns A Candle

1. Trim your wick to 1/8 of an inch every time.

Why cut? It brightens and cleans up your candle’s flame. If you don’t take care to trim your wick, you’ll end up producing a dimmer light that’s more prone to cause smoke. Your jar can also be stained by the smoke, which is an obvious sign that you don’t understand how fire works.

Trimming your wick every four hours is a decent rule of thumb. Trim the wick to 1/8 of an inch after extinguishing the flame and allowing the candle to cool to room temperature. With a small scissor or a spare nail clipper, you can cut the wicks with ease, but Amazon has a great wick trimmer that costs less than $10.

2. To prevent tunneling, burn your candle one hour for every inch in diameter the first time you light it.

It’s hardly a myth that your candle has a past. You can only expect the wax to melt as far as it did the first time you lit it. In other words, if you don’t burn your candle to the top layer of wax completely on the first try, it will burn for the rest of its life. YIKES. Ideally, a candle should burn for an hour every inch of its diameter to avoid this problem. Burning a three-inch-wide candle for three hours will ensure that the top layer of the wax is evenly melted. In order to minimize tunneling and to get the strongest and most intense smell, you should always aim for an even burn, even if the first burn is more significant.

3. Use aluminum foil to fix tunneling if you already f*cked up.

An aluminum foil tent, folded in half and wrapped around the candle, can be used to cover up the unattractive candle tunnel (leaving a hole for it to get oxygen). The wax should be melted off the sides after about 30 minutes of use with the foil still on top. More information can be found on this page.

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4. Get yourself a multi-wick candle if you want an even burn with less hassle.

What are you doing with your life if you don’t have three hours to burn your candle evenly? JK, that’s a fair price. Instead, invest in a pillar candle with multiple wicks. With all that added heat, it will melt the entire top layer of wax considerably more quickly. You know what? Single-wick candles that are at least a foot in diameter are trash. They won’t be able to conduct enough heat to completely melt their wax. They should be avoided.

5. Don’t place your candle near moving air.

If you place your candle in an area with open windows, open fans, air conditioning units, or a lot of traffic, the flame will be disturbed, resulting in black smoke stains or soot buildup on your candle jar.

6. Stop using your candle when there’s half an inch of wax left at the bottom.

Once the half-inch mark has been passed, the candle will be burning too close to the jar’s base, potentially damaging the surface it is resting on as well as the jar itself.

7. Freeze the jar so you can pop out any remaining wax and reuse it.

Stick it in the freezer to get rid of stubborn wax residue on the bottom of a candle jar you don’t want to throw away. You should be able to puncture the wax with a butter knife and pull out the remaining chunk with ease once it’s hardened. You’ll be able to use your jar for the first time in years.

8. Don’t burn your candle for more than four hours in one sitting.

A Bath & Body Works candle that erupted into six-inch flames on a Texas woman necessitated an emergency room visit with first- and second-degree burns. In an attempt to extinguish the flames, she attempted to blow them out with her breath, but this resulted in her face becoming covered in fire and wax.

There’s a problem here: It had been about four hours since the candle had been lit. Having a wick that burns for so long allows carbon to build up, causing it to mushroom. An unstable and deadly flame will result from this. The smoke and soot from your candle will pollute the air, too. Relight your candle once it has rested for two hours after being extinguished.

9. Never extinguish a wax candle with water.

Don’t use water to put out a huge flame if you can’t blow it out. Splattering hot wax on your skin from the water can lead you to get burned. Instead, because fires are stoked by oxygen, use a lid or snuffer to put out the candle, or sprinkle baking soda on top. If the fire can’t be put out using these methods, you should call 9-1-1 or use a fire extinguisher.


As a candle enthusiast, you’re likely to run into the challenges listed above. Fortunately for you, we’ve come up with a few ideas that will help you out at this time. Keep this article handy anytime an issue arises, and you’ll be ready to take on the world.