Okay Folks, lets just say I burn a lot of candles. Not just because I enjoy to, yes that's a perk but also because I'm constantly testing candles. Before I launch a new product it undergoes testing, mainly to make sure that the wick size is correct but also to make sure that I like the overall burn and quality of the candle. Here are some tips to ensure a clean and long burn, so you get the most hours and enjoyment from your candle.
1) GOLDEN RULE: Keep wick trimmed to 1/4". This will ensure a long and clean burn. The longer the wick=the bigger the flame, which causes the flame to suck up wax much faster. All candles need their wicks trimmed at different times, some shortly after they've been lit the first time and some after many hours. For the most part I find that the first time you burn your candle, after 30 minutes or so it should be blown out, trimmed and then go ahead and relight it. After that I usually pinch of the excess burnt wick before the candle is lit each time.
2) Watch the wax pool. Especially the first time. Candles burn with a memory so it's important to burn until your wax pool reaches the edge on container candles and near the edge for pillars. This will help prevent tunneling, which is just a huge waste of wax. Like I said "near the edge for pillars" this is just to ensure that you don't have wax spills. However, drips and spills happen, just make sure to save them. They can be tossed in the wax pool of your bigger candle and will act as extra fuel. Make sure to use just a little bit at a time, you don't want to end up suffocating your wick.
3) Hugging, which is pushing the soft wax inwards all the way around toward the center of the candle. This is usually only needed on giant pillars. It's just a way to use as much of the wax as possible. Hugging is best done after you've extinguished your wick and you've let the wax cool a bit. Just make sure to push the wax inward slowly, you don't want to go overboard and burn yourself or suffocate the wick.
4) Burn your candles out of a draft. Drafts cause uneven burns and dripping. Use a candle snuffer as well, this will help eliminate spills and drips.
5) Burning with Symmetry. Sometimes wicks will start to lean and start burning unevenly. To correct this just use a metal object like a bobby pin or scissors and you can move the wick back to the center. This is done of coarse when the wax pool is still liquid, so take care to not burn yourself.
6) Burn on a level heat resistant surface. I have dedicated candle plates for my pillars and candle mats that I burn my container candles on. Even if the flame is contained in a jar or a tin it still needs to be on a heat resistant surface. Metal and glass still get hot, especially if the flame needs trimmed. You don't want a heat spot on your fancy oak table.
7) Safety- just remember folks we're dealing with an open flame and hot wax, so burn wisely. Don't leave candles burning unattended. Try to not over fiddle with your candles. I can't tell you how many times I've carelessly fiddled with my candles and burnt myself usually because I didn't blow out the candle first, etc. So, blow out the candle first, let the wax cool a bit and then fiddle away...Saftey first!
With all that said, enjoy your candles, don't save them only for special occasions. Burning candles adds a nice ambiance to the home. I love burning tapers at dinner, anytime spent at the dinner table with my family is special. It seems to make our time together there not as rushed but more enjoyed. I burn candles nearly everyday, even in the summer. It defunks the smell of my house by basically cleaning the air. Beeswax candles pull dust, allergens, toxins and more out of the air. So, by burning candles I keep my house smelling naturally fresh, fresh, fresh!
Burning candles should be easy and there shouldn't be a laundry list of rules. Everyone doesn't have to be a neurotic wick trimmer like me, just burn your candles and enjoy. But remember with a tiny bit of extra tending you will have superior candles that burn very long and clean!