I’m pretty sure expensive candles are a modern phenomenon. I can’t imagine the Victorian upper class popping over to their local boutique to sniff the different waxes and come away armed with an overpriced jar, just for the pleasure of it; candles, until the invention of electricity, were a basic necessity that probably involved just about as much thought as to which window you should throw your bedpan out of. In the last twenty years though, candles have become a little luxury that can change the ambience of a room completely – lighting it with a soft, warm glow and providing a delicate aroma that tickles the senses – so the need to look after them properly and ensure you’re getting the most from your burn time has emerged.
Since I was a teenager I’ve been totally captivated by candles: I used to cover every surface with cheap tea lights and was even known to ruin my mum’s saucepans attempting to make my own. As an adult I find them a crucial part of every room, using them to not only offer a subtle flicker during a cold winter’s evening, but to offer a scent that either comforts or invigorates the mind. Millions of expensive jars are sold every year, with the UK is apparently the biggest consumer of them in Europe, but few of us actually know how to look after these expensive piles of wax properly to ensure you get the most from them. Over the years I’ve perfected my candle maintenance technique and have learned from the best, so here are the best ways to look after your candle and get more burn for your buck…
1. The First Burn: When you first light your candle, ensure it burns long enough to ensure the top layer of wax completely melts. This will be roughly 1-2 hours and will help your wax to burn evenly for the rest of its ‘life’ – if you don’t burn it to the edge of the glass then the wax ‘remembers’ how far it has burned to and will never burn beyond this distance. If you’ve ever had candles that ‘tunnel’ and only burn a little of the wax, creating a massive rim of unused candle, then this is why. If you ensure your first burn is perfect then not only will you minimise wax wastage, but keep your candle looking pretty until the very end.
2. Trim Your Wick: If you leave the wick long as the wax burns it not only cause excess soot and potentially cause the wax itself to be dirtied, but for the wick to become extremely hot and dangerous. I’ve had candles actually break before because they’ve simply burned too hot, as well as labels melting off and ruining the aesthetic of my expensive treat, so trimming your wick after every use is a great habit to get into.
3. Blow It Out: It’s always a good idea to keep burning time within three or four hours. This will ensure you’re able to cool the candle, trim the wick and prevent overheating of the glass container. If you keep a candle burning all night long, there’s a strong probability it will start generating unwanted soot and giving off a bit of stink. Keep an eye on how your candles are performing and if you need to blow the flame out and give it a while, then don’t be scared to do so.
4. Last Half Inch: If, like me, you’re keen to get every last moment from your expensive candles then you may not know that it’s recommended to leave the last half inch in the jar. Burning to the very bottom can cause the glass to become extremely hot, potentially causing damage to the surface underneath and even causing burns if you try to pick it up or move it. The last little bit in the jar will never burn effectively either, as the wick will often be damaged beyond effective burning.
5. Freeze It: One of the best tips I’ve ever been given is to pop your used candle into the freezer, leaving for 24hrs before taking it out. The freezing temperatures help to reduce the size of the wax, making it super easy to pop out that unused last half inch and wash out the beautiful container. Whether you then use it to store your cosmetics, or pop a tea light inside to keep the illusion of a full candle, is up to you!
Whether you’re covering your home in candles this winter season, or are awaiting the inevitable Jo Malone number to appear underneath your tree, make sure you look after your candle properly and enjoy them to the very end!
Do you have any other top tips to keep your candles burning cleanly and effectively?