How to fix candle tunneling
You may have owned many candles in your time, but you may not have reliased what candle tunneling is & how to deal with it. This is a term you may or may not have come across, however if you have ever burnt candles yourself then you’ll be familiar with this phenomenon as it can happen occasionally.
The term candle tunneling refers to the vertical ‘tunnel’ that is created around the wick when it is burning.
When lit, ideally a candle should burn evenly across the surface of the wax after being lit for a short while. Candle tunneling will create a ledge of wasted wax around the perimeter of the candles surface and consequently you may not benefit from the maximum burn time suggested.
This can be annoying as it means you’re not getting the best performance from your candle.
High-quality candles with the optimum wax blend and ideal wick size should be less prone to candle tunneling, but it can happen.
Don’t worry, we have some tips and tricks to ensure you get the most out of your favourite candles.
Why is my candle tunneling?
Candles can burn unevenly for a variety of reasons. You can learn more about how candles work by visiting our candle FAQ.
If your candle is located in a space where there are draughts or other heat sources, this may affect the direction your candle flame burns in, leading it to melt more wax on one side than another.
Sometimes the width of the candle wick may be too small for the diameter of the candle which will lead to tunneling, or alternatively on the opposite end of the scale.
If the wick of a candle is too thick it can lead to the candle wick mushrooming which causes ineffective burning.
New candles need to be treated gently and carefully to maximise their potential burn life.
If you don’t burn your candle for long enough the first time you light it, then the tunnel that is produced will lead to consequent tunneling and the life of your candle will be drastically reduced.
Again, candle tunneling can even happen to high quality candles, fortunately we do have tips to fix candle tunneling below.
How to stop candle tunneling
The first time you light your candle, let it burn long enough that the melted wax reached the edges of the candle.
We’d recommend burning your candle until you have at least 1 cm of melted wax to ensure that further burning will be consistent and even. If you don’t have time to relax and enjoy your newly lit candle, save it when you have more time.
For wider candles, trim the wick before first use as this will help draw wax up the wick and ensure an even burn.
If you do experience candle tunneling, don’t worry, there are a few tried and tested tricks to get your candle back to its best.
How to fix candle tunneling with foil
Light your candle carefully. Then use aluminium foil to make a little dome to sit over the top of the candle. This dome needs to have a little hole in it to let air in.
The idea here is that the foil reflects the heat created by the flame, back inside this little lid to heat, melt and even up the surface of the wax by acting as a little oven. Simple.
This technique works with most candles, it’s a good way to help you be able to use all of your candle wax.
If you find that the tunneling is too severe to be fixed, there are still a few things you can try below.
How to fix candle tunneling without foil
If you do not have any foil to hand & you really want to use your candle, we have some other methods that may be suitable for you.
Hold the hairdryer on its hottest setting directly over the top of the candle and blast the wax until the top surface softens and settles into a flat surface.
It is preferable to use a slower speed. Please be careful when doing this, once the wax melts there can be some splash back which could make it quite awkward.
You may need to hold steady for 5 minutes or so, so make sure you’re sitting down!
There is a clever device you can buy called a candle warmer. This is an electric device that your container candle sits inside which melts the wax and releases the scent without having to light the wick.
There are settings where an open flame may not be a good idea so using a candle warmer is a handy way to still enjoy the aroma of your scented candle.
The even warming of the container ensure that candle tunneling is not an issue.
Oil burners are a little retro these days and have been replaced by reed diffusers and other more modern scenting magic tricks. However, if you can get your hands on an oil burner, scrape the wax out of your finished candle into the bowl on the top and light a tea light underneath.
The heat will melt the wax on top and release its lovely scent. This way you can finish your candle even after the tunneling has reached the bottom of the spent wick.
You can find out about how to trim a candle wick, find out if candles are bad for you or see if candles are vegan by visiting our candle FAQ.