Have you ever seen a candle with a hole down the center with a lot of unused wax built up along the side of the container? This is called candle tunneling.
It’s not only unsightly but you’re not getting the full enjoyment from your beautiful, scented candle.
Here I am going to explain why your candles are tunneling, and the good part is I will also give you a few ideas for what to do if your candle is tunneling at different stages.
Why are my candles tunneling?
There could be a few reasons why your candle is tunneling.
Leaving your candle in a draughty area can make the wick unstable which could result in your candle burning unevenly.
Your candle is poorly made. If the wick is the incorrect size, then it will not be able to heat the wax enough to melt across the full width of the candle jar creating the tunnel in the middle.
But one of the most common reasons your candle is tunneling is due to not burning the candle long enough on the first burn. Why does this matter? Well, who would have known? Every candle wax has a memory. It’s the first burn that has the most significance with every candle. If the first burn isn’t left reach close to the edge of your candle container the candle wax will remember this and will continue to burn in this pattern for every subsequent burn creating a tunnel down the center of your candle. Not only leaving a lot of wasted wax but it also doesn’t look pretty. And candles should always look pretty. In my opinion 😊
How to stop a candle tunneling
The easiest way to stop a candle from tunneling in the first place is to follow the manufacturers' guidelines.
Always trim your wicks to approx. 5mm before every burn.
Keep out of draughts, vents, or air currents. A draughty room can cause the candle to burn unevenly
The most important way to avoid a candle wax tunneling!
Burn your candle as close to the edge of your candle jar on each burn but most importantly on the first burn. An average single wick candle, dependent on candle container style should take approx. 3-4 hours to burn the full diameter of the container. Here in The Fragrant Nest, I use multiple wicks in my candles so a full burn can take anywhere between 2-3hours as multiple wicks will heat the wax much quicker than a single wick candle.
Try not to light your candle if you know you will be leaving the house within the recommended burn time (2-4hours). Life is busy and unexpected things pop up that you have no choice but to leave the house. Don’t fret, follow the steps below before you relight your candle again when you return.
What to do if my candle is tunneling?
What to do if my candle is tunneling on the first burn?
If your candle is starting to tunnel on the first burn? Extinguish your candle using a candle snuffer or if your candle comes with a lid this also works just as well.
Check that your wicks haven’t been trimmed too much. Candle wicks that are too short don’t generate enough heat to melt the wax properly.
Using a paper towel, soak up as much of the melted wax as possible.
Set your hairdryer on a gentle setting & melt the top layer of wax until the surface is even.
Let the wax solidify before lighting your candle again.
If your candle continues to tunnel after the first burn and never seems to melt anywhere close to the edge of the container then the wicks may be too small for the candle which is a manufacturing issue.
You can test this by burning for another full 2-3hours.
The further a candle burns down the container the more heat is generated due to the lack of oxygen further down the candle holder. This extra heat may allow your candle wax to catch up.
If this still doesn’t do the trick then try this little hack. It may not be the prettiest of options when it comes to candle styling, but it will help with getting the best candle scent around your home.
Extinguish your candle with your candle snuffer or candle lid.
Wrap tin foil around the container creating a tent around the top of the candle holder. Ensuring the foil is kept well away from the flame.
Leave a hole at the top to ensure any smoke can escape and the candle doesn’t go up in flames.
This foil tent will create extra heat that will help burn the built-up wax along the sides.
Burn for the maximum recommended burn time as per your candle manufacturers' instructions. Usually between 2-4hours depending on the size of the candle holder.
Doing this one time might be enough to save your candle and burn as normal for the rest of the candle's lifetime or you may need to continue with the foil tent to continue enjoying your candle scent.
If your candle has a large tunnel the method above may not work. Once the wax starts to melt it could drown the wick. With a spoon or knife, scoop away as much of the wax around the sides as possible. Don’t go near the wick. Use the hairdryer on a low setting to get a nice even surface on your candle. Trim the wick to approx. 5mm and relight the candle.
You can reuse the wax you scooped out in a wax melt burner if you have one.
Following manufacturers' guidelines is important when you are trying to get the most from your candle.
Trim your wicks before every burn
Keep away from draughts, vents & air currents
Always burn your candle for the recommended burn time that the candle manufacturers advise. The Fragrant Nest candles will take between 2-3 hours for a full burn.
Multiple wick candles heat the wax much more than a single wick candle therefore the chances of a multi-wick candle tunneling are a lot less likely.
Check out The Fragrant Nest candle collection here