The gentle crackle and unique flicker of wood wick candles make for a super cozy ambience, but they can be a little tricky to burn if you're not used to them.
Wooden wicks burn a bit differently than traditional cotton wicks do, and there are a few common issues that cause them to not stay lit.
But don’t worry!
If you remember just a few best practices, it should be smooth sailing and long clean burns from here on out.
Here are our top 3 tips to get the best results from your wood-wick candles:
1) The first burn is the most important – how to do it right
Give your candle enough burning time to develop a melted wax pool that goes all the way to the edges of the vessel on the first use – this can take up a couple of hours, depending on candle size.
Believe it or not, your candles have a “wax memory,” and once a burning pattern has been established, it can be hard to change. If you don’t allow your candle enough time to form a full melt pool on the first burn, a little depression or “tunnel” may start to form around the wick.
This will make it more difficult for the wax around the edges of the jar to melt, causing the tunneling effect to continue with each burn. Eventually, the tunnel will become too deep for fresh oxygen to flow in, and your candle will have trouble staying lit for more than short periods of time.
After the first use, you don’t have to let a full wax pool form every single time, but it is ideal if you want to get the most life out of your candle. Just make sure to give your jar candles a nice long burn every so often to “reset” the wax memory and prevent any tunneling. This will keep your candle looking great, smelling great, and burning evenly!
* If you’re experiencing the dreaded “tunneling” problem already, you may be able to fix it – see tip #3 below.
2) Keep your wood wick trimmed short and free of burnt bits
For optimal burn, keep your wood wick trimmed to about 1/4”, and clean off any burnt bits from previous use.
Remember it’s not the wood fueling your candle’s flame, it’s the wax. The flame is drawing the wax upwards through the wick, so if it’s not trimmed short and clean, the wax can’t make it to the flame.
For trimming, we’ve always found a wick trimmer to work great. In a pinch, you can always use a napkin and your fingers to gently break off the burnt parts of the wick. Just make sure to let your candle cool before trimming, as you don’t want any wick pieces left in the wax when you’re done. It’s much easier to clean this up when the wax is hard and cool!
3) How to fix a candle that’s tunneling:
If your wood wick or jar candle has developed some tunneling from shorter burns, you can usually fix it – here’s how:
First and best option: if your candle will stay lit, give it a good long burn until all the wax is melted to the edge of the jar, and you’ve effectively “reset” the memory of the wax. The flame height may vary when you do this, but as long as there is still a burn, it should continue to create a melt pool, just be patient.
If your candle won’t stay lit because it is “drowning” in a wax pool, try using a paper towel or napkin to soak up some of the excess wax. Then wait for a minute or so, relight your candle, and repeat until your wick has room to breathe!