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Why does my candle burn down the middle?

After buying your favourite candles, the last thing you want is for them to burn unevenly and for candle tunnelling to ruin the experience. You've spent your hard-earned cash on a treat for yourself, a friend or a loved one only for the candle flame to have an uneven burn and the candle wick to have a mind of its own. This can cause leftover wax to be left to waste after using it, and you're not getting the most out of your purchase. So, to prevent candle tunnelling, follow these steps to fix the situation.

Burning Your Candle for the First Time

Before lighting your candle for the first time, it's important to ensure that you place it in a draft-free area. This will prevent the flame from flickering and ensure an even initial burn. Once it is in a safe location, light the candle wick and allow it to burn for at least 3 to 4 hours. This will give the candle enough time to create a full and even melt pool on the top layer of wax.

It's essential to keep an eye on the candle while it's burning, checking it every 30 minutes or so to make sure it's burning properly. It's recommended to let the candle burn for no less than two hours and no more than four hours at a time for the best results. This will ensure that the fragrance is released evenly and prevent the wick from becoming too long.

Once you've finished, always use a candle snuffer as a rule of thumb - you can buy these online or through retailers like Amazon, to put it out. It's best to use one over blowing it out, as this can spread hot melted wax pool to spill and is a hazard.

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Why Do You Want Your Candle to Burn Evenly?

Achieving an even burn for your candle is essential for several reasons. Firstly, it helps to ensure that the candle will last longer, as the wax melts evenly and at a slower pace. This also leads to a more consistent and longer-lasting fragrance. Additionally, maintaining an even burn prevents tunnelling, where the wax only melts down the centre, leading to wasted wax and a shorter overall burn time.

Furthermore, a candle that burns evenly maintains a flawless appearance, with the wax melting evenly across the entire surface. This not only looks better but also ensures that the candle maintains its structural integrity and remains safe to burn.

To maintain an even burn, it's important to regularly trim the wick size to about 1/4 inch before each use. This helps to control the size of the flame and prevent any soot from forming. If your wick doesn't seem to get longer than 1/4 or 1/2 inch, it's likely a self-trimming candle wick size that doesn't need to be cut down each time. It's handy to pick up a wick trimmer to help, this can be bought online easily.

Also, keeping the candle in a stable location, away from drafts or other sources of air movement, can help to ensure an even burn. Finally, it's also recommended to avoid burning the candle for more than four hours at a time to prevent any potential issues.

How to Burn a Candle Evenly

Before lighting your new candle, it's important to make the first initial burn count. To achieve an even burn and maximise the life of your candle, allow the entire surface layer of wax to melt during the first burn. This means burning the candle for at least one hour per inch of the container diameter. For example, if the container is 3 inches in diameter, you should burn the candle for a minimum of 3 hours for the first burn. But the rule of thumb is to burn it for four hours the first time.

The first burn is crucial in setting the stage for an evenly burning candle. It allows the wax to create a "memory" for subsequent burns, ensuring the candle burns evenly each time. Additionally, keep the candle away from drafts and burn it on a heat-resistant surface.

By following these steps and allowing the wax to melt completely during the first burn, you can ensure that your candle burns evenly and lasts longer, enhancing the overall burning experience.

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Why does my candle burn down the middle?

When scented candles burn down the middle, it is often due to candle tunnelling, where only the centre of the wax melts, leaving a ring of unburned wax around the edges. 

Your candle jar may be burning down the middle because you haven't burned it long enough, extinguished it too soon after each lighting or the candle wick isn't big enough.

But for larger candles, you may find the container naturally gets hotter as the wax lowers and candle tunnelling just fixes itself. Different type of candles have various estimated times, some pillar candles may have a shorter burner time because they're thin, others may have a slower burn time because it's a large multi-wick candle, as an example. Give it a couple of hours each time at least before thinking the candle wax won't level out.

If you've reached halfway down, and you still don't have a more level surface, there are some things you can do to fix it.

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How to Fix a Candle That Has Already Tunnelled

If your candle has already tunnelled, it means the wax has not melted evenly and a hole has formed down the centre, leaving wax along the sides. If you already know your wick is the right length, you can move on. Next, use a paper towel to gently remove any built-up carbon from the top of the candle, this is black residue. Then, light the candle and let it burn until a full melt pool of melted wax forms across the entire surface. This may take some time, but the candle needs to burn evenly in the future.

If this method does not work, consider trying an extra-long burn. This means allowing the candle to burn for an extended period, typically 3-4 hours, to help smooth out the outer ridge of wax and encourage a more even burn in the future.

But if it continues to burn down the middle, you can try using a heat gun - if you have access - or a hair dryer to gently heat the wax on the top layer. Keep the airflow around 20cm from the top, and avoid getting too close as the wax may spill.

If you don't have these on hand, you can preheat your oven to a low temperature, of 50C or so, and pop the candle jar on a tray. Gently heating the candle will allow the wax to level out, but keep an eye on it in the oven, you won't need long, depending on the different type of wax. Soy wax has a lower melting point than say paraffin wax. You don't want the entire wax to melt in the candle container as it may destabilise the wick, just the top. You're looking for a pool of wax to form that will fill in any holes that have formed.

After a period of time, you'll be able to take out your favourite candles and enjoy them for longer. Uneven burning for pillar candles, a multi-wick candle or any large candles will be a problem of the past.

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