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Wood Wick Candle Burning Tips

Mackinac Island Lilac Wood Wick Candle - Cellar Door Bath Supply Co

The unique flicker of wood wick candles make for a super cozy ambience, but they can be a little tricky to burn if you're not used to them.


Wood wicks burn a bit differently than traditional cotton/paper wicks do, and there are a few common issues that cause them to not stay lit. But don’t worry! If you remember just a few best practices, it'll be smooth sailing and long clean burns from here on out.

Here are 3 tips to get the best burn from your wood wick candle:


1) The first burn is the most important. Here's how to do it right.

Give your candle enough burning time to develop a melted wax pool that goes all the way to the edge of the container on the first use - this can take up to a few hours, so wait to light up your new candle until you have enough time to allow for a proper burn.

Believe it or not, your jar candles have a kind of “wax-memory,” and once a burning pattern has been established, it can be hard to change.

If you don’t allow your candle enough time to form a full melt pool on the first burn, a little depression or “tunnel” may start to form around the wick.

This will make it more difficult for the wax around the edges of the jar to melt, causing the tunneling effect to continue with each burn. Eventually the tunnel will become too deep for fresh oxygen to flow in, and your candle will have trouble staying lit for more than short periods of time.

To prevent this issue, make sure to give your candle enough time to develop a melted wax pool that goes all the way to the edge of the container the first time you use it.

This is a good practice for all jar candles, not just those with wooden wicks!

After the first use, you don’t have to let a full wax pool form every single time, but it's a good idea if you want to get the longest life out of your candle. Just make sure to give your Wood Wick candles a nice long burn every so often to “reset” the wax memory and prevent any tunneling.

This will keep your candle looking great, smelling great, and burning evenly.

If you’re experiencing the dreaded “tunneling” problem already, you may be able to fix it - see tip #3 below.


2) Keep your wood wick trimmed short and free of charred bits.

For optimal burn, keep your wood wick trimmed to about ⅛”, and clean off any burnt wood from previous use.

Aside from the tunneling problem, if your wood wick candle won’t stay lit it’s probably because the wick is too long, or it needs to be trimmed clean of charred material.

Remember it’s not the wood fueling your candle’s flame, it’s the wax. The flame is drawing the wax upwards through the wick, so if it’s not trimmed short and clean, the wax can’t make it to the flame.

For trimming, we recommend one of our wick trimmers or, in a pinch, you can always use a napkin and your fingers to gently break off the burnt parts of the wick.

Just make sure to let your candle cool before trimming, as you don’t want any bits of ash or wick material left in the wax when you’re done. It’s much easier to clean this up when the wax is hard and cool!


3) How to fix a candle that’s tunneling:

If your wood wick or jar candle has developed some tunneling from shorter burns, you can usually fix it - here’s how:

First and best option: if your candle will stay lit, give it a good long burn until all the wax is melted to the edge of the jar, and you’ve effectively “reset” the memory of the wax.

The flame height may vary when you do this, but as long as there is still a burn, it should continue to create a melt pool, just be patient.

If your candle won’t stay lit because it is “drowning” in a wax pool, try using a paper towel or napkin to soak up some of the excess wax.

Then wait for a minute or so, relight your candle, and repeat until your wick has room to breathe!

If the above two won’t work, we’ve heard of people scraping out the wax near the edge of the jar, or even creating a little dome of aluminum foil around the rim of the container to help melt the hard wax at the edges.

Those are both last resort options though - so no guarantees!

Remember, prevention is better than cure - and if you follow the 3 best practices mentioned above, your wood wick candles will burn nicely!


Other quick tips for wood wick candles:


How to light a wood wick candle like a pro.

You’ll want to light these differently from cotton wicks, but it’s very simple:

When lighting a wood wick candle, the best technique is to tilt it on an angle and let the flame draw across the length of the wick (kind of like how you tilt a match after lighting).

It may also take several tries to get it lit! No worries, this is very common. The heat from the flame needs to draw the wax through the wick before it will really start burning nicely. When in doubt, give it another try - once you get it going once, it should light up more easily.

Your wick shouldn’t produce any soot or smoke

We use very high quality and thoroughly tested wood wicks in our Wood Wick candles. When combined with our pure, plant based soy wax and high quality fragrance and essential oils, your Wood Wick candle should burn extremely clean with no soot or smoke.

If you are experiencing any smoke from a wood wick candle it’s usually because the wick needs to be trimmed and the burnt parts cleared out, or there is a draft interfering with the natural burn.

As we mentioned before, it is a best practice to burn jar candles until the melt pool reaches the edge of the container, which can take 2 or 3 hours.

If burning your candle for more than a couple hours sounds like a long time, consider a different style like our smaller jar candles.


We hope you found these burning tips helpful!

If you have any other candle questions, don't hesitate to get in touch with us! We love hearing from customers and fellow candle lovers.