How to Fix Candle Tunneling

Candle tunneling occurs when only the center of the wax right around the wick melts and burns down. If candle tunneling occurs over time, you’ll end up with a ring of hard wax around the outside of the candle. Candle tunneling can occur in any candle, regardless of the quality or type of wax, but it is more likely to happen with cheap candles. Sometimes, candle tunneling is caused by a wick that isn’t large enough for the size of the candle, but more often it’s caused by the timing of the first burn.

You want to avoid candle tunneling because it reduces the overall burn time for the candle (since all the wax isn’t being used up). It also makes it harder and harder to light the wick as the candle continues to burn down. So how to prevent it—or how to fix candle tunneling if it’s already happening? Both of these questions are answered in our candle care manual below.

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How to Prevent Candle Tunneling

The first burn is critical to prevent candle tunneling. Wax has memory, and the first burn tends to set the radius of the melt. If you create a tunnel on the first burn, the next time you light the candle, it will melt the wax in the tunnel first, making it deeper and continuing to leave unmelted wax around the edges. That’s why it’s so important to completely melt the first layer of wax on the first burn before blowing out the candle.

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For the first burn, place the candle in a draft-free area to ensure that it will burn evenly. After lighting it, check it every 30 minutes or so to make sure that the first layer of wax has completely melted—the deeper the layer, the better. The time it takes will depend on what type of wax you use and how large the candle is. As a general rule, it takes about one hour of burn time for each inch of the candle’s diameter. However, this is only a guideline, and you should continue to check on the candle and blow it out only when the first layer of wax has completely melted.

prayer candle

How to Fix Candle Tunneling

If your candle has already started to tunnel, don’t fret yet. You might still be able to save it. If tunneling isn’t severe, you can blow the top off the candle using a hairdryer. Hot air will melt the wax and smooth it, making it level. The next time you burn the candle, follow the instructions for the first burn and melt the entire first layer of wax so it doesn’t happen again.

If the hairdryer doesn’t work, you can also try the oven. Heat it to 175 degrees F, place the candle on a cookie sheet and pop the candle in the oven for about five minutes. A smaller candle might take less time, while a larger candle may require more. Turn on the oven light so you can keep an eye on the candle and make sure that it doesn’t get too warm.

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Georgia Candle

Another option is to use a foil tent. Light the candle and place an aluminum foil tent over it. To let the smoke escape, poke a hole in top. The foil will reflect heat onto the candle and melt the wax around the edges. Keep an eye on it to make sure that it doesn’t overheat. After the wax has melted, remove the aluminum foil with an oven mitt (or other protection) as the foil can get very hot. Blossom the candle.

In some cases, your candle tunneling might be too extreme to rescue your candle. While this may be disappointing, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy your candle. A candle warmer warms the wax at the bottom of container candles. Even if your candle tunneling is to the point that you can no longer light the wick, a candle warmer will still heat the existing wax enough to release gentle scents.

Buying high quality soy candles is one way to prevent candle tunneling. You can browse our entire selection of candles, which includes scents that are inspired by memories, states, and hometowns.

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