What Is Candle Tunneling?
If you love candles as much as I do, you don’t want to waste a single drop of wax. When the flame begins to drop below the top-level of wax, leaving a dry, hard ring that just won’t melt, it’s called candle tunneling.
Novice candle fans might even think that’s just how certain candles are, but over time, especially with larger containers, the candle can become harder to light or it will go out, as wax burns from the top, and it might not relight at all. You can even lose your wick entirely. Luckily, there are things you can do to help your candles burn evenly and efficiently, with as little residual wax as possible.
How To Prevent Candles From Tunneling
Start Clean to Burn Clean
The first burn and the size of the initial wax pool sets the stage for everything. The longer your candle burns, the bigger the opening for future use. You might not even want to trim the wick that first time if it’s a wider container because a bigger, hotter flame could be the only way to melt the wax all the way out to the edge. But smoke and soot are never good for the wax, so keep a careful eye out for problems like that. Once the candle has formed a melt pool all the way to the edge of its container, extinguish the candle and trim it back a little.
Tunneling is not only ugly, it’s wasteful. There shouldn’t be dark soot on the glass, and it should melt cleanly and evenly for roughly 1\4 inch. Burn the candle one hour, for every inch in width, depending on the wax and its quality, getting as close to the edge of the container as possible. Repeat this complete burn occasionally, throughout a candle’s life, to keep the wax open and even. Too many short burns will cause problems as well.
Make Wise Choices
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” – Benjamin Franklin
If you never burn your candles for more than an hour or two, pillar and large poured varieties are not your most economic and labor-free choice. Taper, votives, and tealights might suit your lifestyle better or smaller, narrower jars.
Some candles are also just poorly made in the first place and will probably tunnel no matter what you do because the wick is too small for the jar, or the wax is of poor quality. This means you will have to fix them more than once, and you might have problems with both the wax and the wick.
Remember, expensive and well-made are not always the same thing. You’re looking for quality, not money to burn. A good candle maker knows how to balance the wick size, wax type, size, and scent to produce a superior experience, and that’s what you’re looking for, not a constant hassle.