Candle Common Sense

This is for those of you that burn candles, as well as for those that are thinking of making candles.

There are several different types of candles.  All involve a fuel source and a wick.  A pillar candle is one that stands on its own.  A container candle is one that is inside a container of some sort and must be burned within that container.  A votive is a special breed.  It looks like a pillar candle, but must be burned within a container.  It needs to be burned inside a container that is almost the same size as the votive itself, width-wise.  Common sense for burning any of these candles is to make sure that the pillar candle is on a plate, or some non-flammable base with room for wax spillage.  All candles need to be on a level surface and out of drafts.  That means you don’t want to burn candles in a room with a fan on, or where people walk by frequently.  If the flame is moving around a lot, the candle won’t burn correctly.

Another piece of common sense for burning candles that you may, or may not have heard is that before burning the candle, the wick needs to be trimmed to 1/4″.  You don’t need to measure it, but trim it as close to that as you can.  After you burn it and then put it out, let it cool, then make sure you trim the wick to 1/4″ inch before burning again.  Do this EVERY time!

When putting out a candle, it’s great if you can cover it and let it go out on its own (when it runs out of oxygen, the flame goes out).  If you need to blow it out, cup your hand on the back side of the candle to catch the hot wax.

This is something else you may, or may not have heard, but you should know.  When you burn a candle, make sure you burn it 1 hour for each inch it is in diameter.  If you have a votive, that needs to burn for at least an hour.  A 3 inch candle needs to burn for at least 3 hours at a time.  After a candle has been burned the first time for the proper amount of time (3 hours for a 3″, 2 hours for a 2″, etc.), put it out and let it harden before burning again.  After that, you can burn it for longer.  However, common sense is that you don’t leave a burning candle unattended.  If you are burning a 3″ candles for 6 hours, it will probably be fine, as long as it is wicked correctly and doesn’t have a draft near it, however, it could also develop a crater in the side and have hot wax running down its side.  That’s why you want it on a plate, or a good base.

This one is for both candle burners and those making candles. . .those metal pieces at the bottom are REALLY IMPORTANT!!!  Those things are called wick tabs and are what keeps the wick upright as the candle burns down.  It doesn’t matter what type of candle you are burning: container, votive or pillar, the tab holds the wick up so it doesn’t tip over and break the container, or light the wax on fire.  Usually, the wick will drown itself in hot wax, but it can start a fire.  Please make sure you candles have a wick tab.  If they don’t, don’t burn it down below 1/4″ base of solid wax.

This one is common sense for anyone who makes candles.  If you’ve made candles more than a couple of times, you should know that the wick that sometimes comes with candle molds is usually for a straight paraffin candle.  If that’s not what you’re making, you’ll need to do some research and find the proper wick for your wax, additives and diameter.

There are a lot of different types of wax, and each type has different properties, so needs a different type of wick and wick size.  I know from experience that it takes a lot of trial and error to get the proper wick for your candles.  And then, if your wax supplier or wick supplier changes, you need to test again.  It’s fun to test great candles, but it is also a lot of time and expense to get it correct.  I’m fine with that as I really enjoy the process of making candles and I love to burn them, too.

If you already know all of this, I’m sorry to bore you, but it amazed me when I looked at 3 sites for making beeswax candles this past week and all 3 had bad info on making candles.  Which made me think of a few common sense things that not everyone seems to know about burning them, too.  Just thought I’d pass on a bit of common sense.

Thanks for spending some time with me today!  Be careful when burning candles, but do enjoy it.