Candle Burning Tips.

My family knows to gift me candles for any and every occasion. I am addicted to scented candles, and judging by the popularity of our Annual Huge Charlotte Candle Round Up, so are you. Did you get one or two new ones for Christmas? Same.

As much as we love them, there are a few things about scented candle burning that “dim” the experience:

  • Uneven burn, leaving one side much higher than the other
  • Burning in the center. leaving wax on the sides
  • Smokey sides on the vessel, mushroomed wick

Not major issues, no, but luxe candles aren’t cheap so you want to get the most use for your money.

Here are a few easy things to do to help your candles burn better, longer, more cleanly:

  • First burn should be at least 3-4 hours long. You want the wax to melt across the entire surface of the candle the first time you burn it. Otherwise, it can tunnel down the center, leaving unused wax collected on the sides. Once the melt pattern has been set, it takes some doing to redirect the “wax habit” of your candle, believe it or not. (see below).
  • One rule of thumb I’ve seen is to burn your candle one hour for every inch in diameter the first time you light it.
  • Trim the wick, ideally every time. You want to trim the wick to 1/4-inch before burning to prevent your candle from creating soot marks on the holder. If you candle burn is smokey, the wick is too long.
  • Keep your candle away from moving air, like a vent or fan, to prevent smoking as well.
  • If you do have a tunneling candle, don’t despair. Nip it in the bud quickly though. Fix it by either using a hair blowdryer waved across the surface to melt the sides or put it in a 175 degree over for about 5 minutes until the wax on the sides has melted. You will have to scoop out a the wax that is over the wick but should have an even melting surface from then on.
  • Don’t let it burn for so long that the wax melts entirely when it’s low in the candle or the wick floats off to one side. Usually 4 hours is about long enough.
  • Center the wick each time you blow it out while the wax is still soft for best long term performance.
  • Don’t blow it out if you don’t like little black soot particles in the wax. Use a snuffer or the lid that came with the candle.

And here are a few fun facts about buying your candles to eek out the most for your money:

  • Check the burn time. It’s often listed so you don’t have to do the math about how long this or that many ounces will burn.
  • My experience is you get what you pay for, so the high end options from the perfumers often have the strongest yet most subtle scents.
  • Three wicks are better, meaning they actually burn slower than one wicks. Because the multi flames are spread across a wider surface area, more of the total surface of the candle burns, vs the single wick burning more down just the center.
  • Soy wax candles burn faster than paraffin wax, as paraffin has a higher melting point than soy. If you are looking for the clean burn of soy, look for a soy paraffin blend to give the best of both worlds.
  • Freeze your pretty candle holders / containers til the wax is hard to be able to pop it cleanly out so you can re-use the container.
  • Buy when they go on sale. Which is not often. But keep your eyes out for online storewide discount deals from retailers like Saks, Nordy’s and Net-A-Porter as they have excellent options to use your 10-15-20% off email subscriber or special storewide discount. My favorite flavors by store are:

NORDSTROMLe Labo, Diptyque, Jo Malone, Tom Ford.

SAKS FIFTH AVE: Fornasetti (on which I can not bring myself to spend the $$$$$), Acqua Di Parma, Frederic Malle and many more unique & hard to find luxury brands.

NET-A-PORTER: Cire Trudon, Bella Freud, Byredo

And you can try to beat me to the candles on the sale table at Bedside Manor, but I’ve probably already picked over them!!


Retail marketer who loves shopping, fashion, design, travel and dining out. NOLA native, Francophile, and DC-lover living in Charlotte since 1998. Married to a die-hard Wahoo for over 25 years, mother of one Princeton Tiger, a labradoodle and two cats. I'm the creator & editor of scoopcharlotte and scoopthelake - if you think you'd like to join our program, email me at scoopcharlotte [at] today!