How to Fix Under Burning and tunneling Candles
Posted by: Patricia Anne Fernandez (December 2020)
Candles are not just good for decorative accessories in your home, they make your space feel cozy and warm. They also help activate your senses especially if you’re using perfume candles. How? Well, scents can affect your overall mood and the vibe of your home. For example, lavender helps calm you down, peppermint enhances your focus, and anything citrus scented can help boost your energy.
You can also show your personality through your choice of home scents and if you want to take it up a notch, you can make your own blend of perfume candles for your home. Perfume candles in your home is also a nice touch because the scent is something your guests will remember.
Whether you’re only an enthusiast of scented candles, someone starting your own small-scale private candle label, or going large scale with a candle manufacturing company, we’re sure that your candle’s burn quality is of utmost importance to you. Allow us to share some tips on how you can ensure the best quality of candle-burn for your home.
Pillar Candle VS Container Candle
Before anything else, there are two kinds of candles you need to take note of; the pillar candle and the container candle. What’s the difference? A pillar candle is tall and sturdy which is usually made of a hard paraffin wax. A container candle comes in a glass or tin container, and is usually made with a much softer wax using soy or coconut wax as base. If you’re not sure what type of candle is ideal for your space, ask yourself what is your purpose and personal preference. Either way, both types can experience under burning and tunneling.
What is an under burning candle?
An under burning candle is when there’s excess wax being left on the walls of your candle, especially if you’re using a container candle. Under burning usually occurs when your candles are only lit for a short period of time and the wax did not get enough time to melt evenly.
A perfect example of candles that often get severe under burning are those used in the bathroom. These candles are usually left burning for only a few minutes at a time which causes the wax to go right down the center, leaving hard wax on the edges.
The recommended burn time increment for all candles, pillar and container, is about 4 hours. This instruction can be found on all burning labels meeting the ASTM official guideline on how to burn properly and safely. A good thing to keep in mind is to avoid the 10 minutes to an hour burn time because this shorter burn time is what creates an incorrect groove or “burn pool” in your candle.
What is a tunneling candle?
Tunneling is when a severely under burned candle creates a deeper hole that goes down the center of your candle while still leaving a wall of hard wax around the outer corner of your burn pool. When this happens, the flame is unable to expand the burn pool which can cause your candle to die out as it gets drowned by the melting wax. You won’t achieve your candle's maximum burning time when this happens. What a waste of wax, right?
Once the tunneling starts, it can be a bit disappointing, especially if you want to use your scented candles for a long time. Aside from aesthetics, your candle won’t burn evenly for the next few times you use it unless you fix the issue. It can even completely drown and stop working.
Don’t worry, there are several things you can do to avoid candle tunneling and help your candle burn evenly and efficiently.
How to avoid candle tunneling?
If you want to keep your candle from tunneling, here’s a neat trick for you. On your initial burn, allow the candle to “burn” until the pool of wax reaches the outer edge before you blow it out. This will allow the candle to set a “memory” of how far it melts the wax every time you use it. The burning time depends on how wide your candle is, so if you don’t have a lot of time to enjoy the scent and warmth of your candle, consider choosing a narrower one.
How to fix an under burning or tunneling candle?
But it’s too late! My candle is already tunneling!
There are several ways to fix a tunneling candle. The first one is by simply allowing the candle to burn for a longer period of time. So let’s say you’re burning your candle for only 3 hours, try leaving it on for a little bit longer than that or until the edge of the wax has already melted.
We suggest that you do not trim your wick because a longer wick allows for a bigger and hotter flame. This long-burn process will melt the top layer of wax and help correct the under burning or tunneling that has occurred.
You can also reset your candle’s “burn pool” by using a hair dryer (For Container candles) or a creme brulee torch (for pillar candles) to melt the top part of your candle but this trick will only work if you notice the tunneling at an earlier stage.
If you’re using a container candle, oftentimes, it is made of a softer wax compared to a pillar candle. In this case, you can simply take your unlit candle and use a spoon to scoop the excess wax around the edges. You can also push the excess wax towards the center to correct the tunneling. For the excess wax, you can choose to throw it away to expose a bit more of your candle’s wick, or you can spread it on top of your candle as evenly as you can.
For Pillar candles, since the wax is harder, this will require the creme brulee torch to melt the inside of the pillar to help reveal the wick and expand the tunneling. Turn the candle upside down and let the dripping run offer until your burn pool has expanded to the edge of the candle. Remember, this one is a little messy so we recommend using some paper towels or doing this over a trash bin.
Once you light your candle after fixing it, you will notice a more exposed wick. This is fine as you do need the wax to melt so a bigger flame is acceptable. Just leave your candle burning for its full 4 hours (or longer if needed) to allow the wax to burn evenly and correct itself.
We hope that these tips will help you resolve your under burning and tunneling candles, and ultimately help you make the most out of your favorite perfume candles.
As always, don’t forget to keep your burning candles within sight. Keep them away from kids, pets, and anything flammable. Enjoy your candles and burn responsibly!