Things You NEED To Know About Scented Candles!

Hola Face Value Friends! So for my birthday, I got the holy grail of all candles – a Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir home candle!! I never knew scented candles could be so powerful – the high ratio of oils in the candle means that I can smell it, even when it’s not burning! Love it love it love IT.

With delight, I started burning it straight away- I couldn’t wait (I’m allllll about the instant gratification). However, my lovely Jo Malone candle started developing a tunnel! It was smoking, it was sooting up around the rim. What was going on??

To save my new candle, I decided to educate myself in all things ‘Candle Care’ and today, I’m presenting a summary of the top tips I learnt. Enjoy!

Right, so you’ve got a shiny new candle – before you do anything else – READ THESE TIPS! It will prevent tunnelling and make your candle burn as brightly and last as long as possible.

If you’re going to spend bare dollars on a candle, you might as well make your money go further!

The First Burn.

Like foam mattresses, wax has a memory. This means that the first burn is the most important!! If you only burn part of the candle on the first burn, the candle will ‘remember’ this and continue to burn only this layer.

This will lead to tunnelling (also known as “drilling”) where the outside of the candle doesn’t burn and you end up with a tunnel. See this pic below – the tunnelling had begun!!

Dreaded Tunnelling!

To prevent tunnelling in the first place – on the first burn, you need to let the candle burn so that the entire top layer becomes a pool of liquid wax. This could take anywhere between 1 to 4 hours depending on the size of the candle.

Tunnel Repair.

What if my candle has already started tunnelling? Can I fix it? My joyful answer is YES. There are several methods, but I’ve used the foil method which basically covers the top of the candle so that the heat is reflected back into the jar.

Kitchen foil is fine – shiny side down – cover the candle and leave a gap at the top! As you can see my first attempt was POOR to say the least – I put the candle on the foil and tried to wrap the foil around and over the candle. Naht pretty.

 I then realised, it’s much easier to create a lid for the candle which covers the top only – this makes it removable easily too. To do this, cover the candle from the top to get the circular shape, then cut a square out of the top.

But it looks like a meth factory in my room! A neater, more aesthetically pleasing way to do this, would be to buy an Illumalid which is a decorated metal lid, with a gap in the centre.

Candle toppers like these comes in different designs and colours and are a much prettier way to help prevent tunnelling. Check it out! I’ve only seen the Yankee Candle version, but there are lots of choices – google “Candle Toppers”.

Short On Time?

Depending on the depth of tunnelling, tunnel-fixing could take several hours and a couple of burns with the foil lid on.

Being the impatient person that I am, I have developed my own Face Value Beauty Blog technique to speed this up!!

1) When the wax is soft, push the sides down with the flat of a tea spoon – I also used the broad handle of a pair of scissors. The aim is to get the sides at the same level, if not slightly underneath the liquid wax in the centre. 

2) Pushing the sides down will cause the liquid wax to be pushed to the centre and may overwhelm the wick- everyone says to pour out any excess, but this ruins the sides – I like to use a spoon to transfer excess wax to another candle which has a longer wick and can take more wax.

Check out my candle now!  After tunnel repair, the resulting candle will be even and nice and clean down the sides of the glass

No More Tunnelling!

How Big Is Your Wick?

Candle experts all over the net are saying that the wick should be trimmed to 1/8 of an inch. That’s just over 3mm. Yes, milllimetres – look it up, it’s tiny! 

How often to trim? For super candle care, the wick should be trimmed to the correct length after every 4 hours of burn time, not necessarily every time you burn. 

Face Value Tip: For the first burn – don’t trim the wick yet, I’ve found that my candle often needs a slightly bigger flame in order to reach the sides.

Also, what are you using to cut the wick? I honestly thought that wick trimmers were just a gimmick for people with too much money but for smaller candles, nail scissors just wont get in the jar!!

Invest in candle wick trimmer – it’s is like a pair of scissors with a flat end so you can cleanly snip from the top. Many places sell candle trimmers for £10+, but I bought mine from eBay for about £3 including delivery! (Made in China, obvs)

Face Value Tip: Wait for the candle to come back to room temp before you trim as the wick is firmer and will give a cleaner cut.

Smoking Hot.

Why is my candle smoking?! If the candle starts to smoke, it’s most likely one of two things. Either it’s in a draft, or the wick is too long

Here’s the science part! Any disruption to the flame lets small amounts unburnt carbon (aka soot) escape in the form of smoke. Scented candles are more likely to smoke as the oils increase soot levels. To get rid of soot around the edge of a candle holder, try the eraser from the end of a pencil!

So there we go – my top tips for practicing good Candle care! I’ll be honest, I never really thought about it that much – you just light it and burn it right? However, as my candles got gradually more expensive, I wanted to make sure I was doing it right. 

If you love splashing out on a scented candle, follow these tips and make sure you get your money’s worth!!

Do you have a routine when it comes to burning candles? What are your favourite scented candles?

I love Clean Cotton by Yankee Candle and of course, this lovely Pomegranate Noir by Jo Malone. Next on my hit list is a NEOM Tranquillity Candle – any recommendations!?

Zoe Dubs

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Published by Zoe Bayliss Wong

Zoe is a Forbes '30 under 30' finance pro, style writer, presenter and panellist, working for a fashion startup and trying to live that best life in the most IRL way possible.

16 thoughts on “Things You NEED To Know About Scented Candles!

  1. This is such a fab post, thank you! My favourite candle is suffering from tunneling and now I know how to fix it! :-)

  2. Allll of my candles are tunneling – I'll definitely try the foil method! I love powdery candles (Lily Flame's Blush, Snow Fall or Fairy Dust, Colony's Powder Fresh) or Wax Lyrical's High Tea which smells like Earl Grey. I need to buy myself a Jo Malone candle. I'm moving in a couple of months so I may buy myself a flat-warming present.

    1. Oooh – that High Tea one sounds lovely! Definitely treat yourself to a JM, the tricky part is deciding which one – you might like the Early Grey & Cucumber!

  3. Such a good post, ive been wondering why my candles had been doing this, i thought it was due to the wick not being positioned correctly so im forever digging around in them to make it central when all this time ive been doing it wrong, will be doing this to a few this evening 🙂 My favourite candles are Laura Mercier – Warm Roasted Chestnuts, Diptyque – Verveine & Yankee Candle – Warm Spice xFrankie Boo Blog

  4. This was incredibly helpful. And Jo Malone and Diptyque are on my wish list, can't wait to try their candles 🙂

  5. Fantastic tips, I always wondered what decorative candle toppers were for, I honestly thought it was just something that looked nice on the top! Tunneling ruined one of my favourite candles but I'll try and fix it with the tinfoil method!Sarah :)Saloca in Wonderland

  6. I always get tunnelling, no matter how careful I am with the first burn, but that's because my room is quite cold. I swear by Illuma Lids and candle shades to keep the burn even and trap in the heat 🙂 x

  7. Zoe these are excellent tips and I'll make sure to use them! I knew majority of it but now I'll have a method to deal with tunneling!

  8. Thank you!! The foil method is working so far…hopefully will save my super expensive but beloved Diptyque candle!

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