We talk to an expert about how to get the most out of your expensive candles.
Nothing sets the scene like candlelight at home to provide a welcoming fragrance or to encourage relaxation.
Aficionados know that you get what you pay for when buying candles - this is one case where the purchase price reflects the raw materials, time and skill that have all come together to make the final product.
That said, there are still some common errors people make when burning candles in their home that compromise the burning experience and the long life of your candle. We spoke to Winnie van Donk at Candle Kiosk to find out how to avoid the usual missteps.
1. Not “setting the memory” of your candle
A common mistake is to not let the candle burn for long enough during the first burn. The size of the wax pool during the first burn determines the life of the candle; subsequent burns won't melt the wax beyond the initial wax pool, so if it didn't melt close enough to the edge of the candle, tunneling (when a candle burns hollow, i.e. leaves a thick, unused mantle or rim) might occur. Tunnelling can be avoided by making sure the initial burn is long enough to melt the candle all the way to the edge. This is called 'setting the memory' of the candle.
SOLUTION: As a rule of thumb, burn a new candle for 1 hour per 2.5cm (1 inch) in diameter. So for a 7.5cm (3 inch) diameter candle, the initial burn time should be at least 3 hours.
2. Leaving the wick too long
A wick that is too long can cause a candle to start smoking. Keep your wick trimmed at all times; a trimmed wick creates a calm, steady flame, which means the candle's burning process is in balance.
The wick is efficiently pulling up the right amount of wax, and the flame creates complete combustion. A wick that is too long won't be able to draw wax all the way to the top, and the wick itself will start to burn, causing it to smoke.
SOLUTION: Before lighting, trim the wick to 6mm (1/4 inch) and remove any wick debris. Any debris left in the wax pool can disturb the burning of the candle.
3. Exposure to draught
A candle that is in a draught can start flickering and will likely smoke, and a strong draught can cause a candle to start dripping.
SOLUTION: To avoid this, eliminate the source of the draught, move the candle out of the draught or shield the candle from the draught.
4. Using the wrong container
Candles look great and burn safely inside a container or vase, however make sure you use the right size container. If the vase is too small for the candle, the candle might start flickering and smoking.
- Use a container that is open on both sides (top and bottom) so hot air can rise out and cold air can get sucked in from the bottom, or
- Choose a bigger container and/or smaller candle - make sure that there is roughly half the candle diameter of space between the candle and the vase edge eg. For a 7cm candle, there should be at least 3.5cm of space between the candle and the edge of the container
A setup with multiple candles in a variety of size can look beautiful, yet make sure the distance between the candles is large enough to avoid irregular melting, warping and ultimately dripping.
SOLUTION: Place lit candles at least 10cm (3 inches) apart to avoid melting and warping due to heat from neighbouring candles.
Enjoy your candles and keep them trimmed!
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