How to avoid tunneling in candle burning

Yes, you've done the research and decided for the health of your home to make the switch to beeswax. You've invested a bit more money in burning all natural candles as opposed to toxic ones. Now you want to get the most out of your candle and eek out every precious hour of burn time. Yes, your candle is going to have a very long burn time, beeswax is known for it!

How do you get the most burn time out of candles?

The biggest mistake someone can make is not burning it for the appropriate amount of time. But how long does one need to burn a candle for?

Follow these 2 rules when burning pillars or container candles to get the most burn time out of each candle by avoiding the dreaded candle that suffers from tunneling. Other candles like tapers, tea lights and such do not need to follow these rules. However, wider novelty votives will have their burn time extended by following them.

1) WAX POOL RULE. The wax pool is the melted wax near the flame. The longer you burn the wider the wax pool extends. You'll want your wax pool to extend close to the edge of your candle prior to extinguishing.

The rule is to allow your candle to burn for 1 hour per inch in diameter of candle.

So if you're burning one of our 3" wide pillars you're going to want to plan on burning it for 3 hours minimum per session.

Below are a few photos that help you visually see the difference.

3" DIAMETER CANDLE AFTER 1/2 HOUR BURN TIME

3" DIAMETER CANDLE AFTER 2 HOUR BURN TIME

3" DIAMETER CANDLE AFTER OPTIMAL 3 HOUR BURN TIME

As you can see the ring is extended fairly close to the edge. It was burnt for the 3 hour minimum interval, it still can handle being burnt longer (and would benefit from that) but at this stage will not tunnel and can easily take hugging (I'll touch on candle hugging next week:)

2) MEMORY RING RULE. All candles burn with a memory so to speak. They tend to burn with a memory (the same width/wax pool) of the previous burn session. That's why the first burn if very important. You don't want to start your candle that was needing to burn for 3+ hours and only have it lit for a half hour. That will create tunneling. You want to burn your candle close to the edges before extinguishing it. Or at least close enough where you will be able to hug the wax in later. (again, we'll talk about that next week, check back.)

If you end up extinguishing your candle too early and a tunnel has been created, just try to plan on the next few burns being extra long to try to correct it. This generally creates a problem if you have had several short burn sessions. Your candle may suffer from the heat caused in a tunnel suffocating the wick. This happens when too much wax is pooled and the wick can't get oxygen to stay lit or gets covered entirely with wax. You may need to keep the wick a touch longer than normal and carefully pour a tiny bit of wax out from the pool if your flame appears to be struggling. Again, this will not be necessary if you follow the above rules, this is only a correction that can be made if your candle was not burned long enough before.

Next week I'm going to talk about "Candle Hugging" and "Wick Trimming" and how those help much more of the candle wax get used up and at a slower rate, extending the life of your candle.

I hope you found these little tips helpful and please drop a comment below if you have any questions.

Happy Candle Burning!!!

If you're wondering what candles these rules would benefit, check out my favorite long burning BEESWAX PILLARS HERE.

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Erinn Boitano
Erinn Boitano

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