So I Just Light the Wick and Relax, Right?
Well basically yes, but there are a few things you can do to make your candle "live" a little longer and burn better.
Before you light your new candle, be sure to trim the wick to one quarter inch. This will keep the flame height at a safe and optimal performance level. If the wick is too long the flame will be too big. This may cause smoke and will make the candle burn rapidly and unevenly. Conversely, if the wick is too short you may have trouble keeping your candle lit.
For the first burn of any new candle (that is one and a half inches or larger in diameter), make sure you have plenty of time (at least 2 hours) to "set" the wax. Don't extinguish it until the wax pool around the wick has nearly reached the outside edge of the candle. This will keep the wick burning in a slow even path for the life of your candle. If you blow your candle out too soon on the initial burn, your candle will never burn properly. After the wax pool has nearly reached the outside edge, extinguish your candle and let it harden. After the initial burn you can relight your candle as often as you like and it won't core down through the middle and waste your wax.
I Thought You Said My Candle Was Dripless?
Most high quality candles are dripless, though some are designed to "pool" into a jar, and should be burned only in the jar they come in. If it comes in a jar, it is best to burn it that way! And it is a good idea to always burn votive candles in a votive holder. They are small and don’t always hold their shape the same way pillar candles do.
If you are burning a dripless candle, and it is dripping there are two easy things you can do that could help.
To begin with, check the room for a breeze or draft. The easiest way to check this is to light the candle and look at the flame. If the flame is not moving, you're good but if it is dancing, you have a draft. A draft will cause the flame to burn one side of the candle quicker and ...drip.
Another tip we’ve picked up over the years is making candles dripless yourself! A neighbor once told us that he kept his taper candles from dripping all over the dinner table by putting them in the freezer for 24 hours. They can be taken out after that and burned at any time and they will not drip.
The final problem may be that the wick is not centered in the candle. Simply adjust the wick while the pool of wax is hot until it is in the center.
I Guess I Should Not Store My Candles On the Dashboard of My Car in August, huh?
Uhhh, no. Though just about anywhere else that is cool and dry should be fine. Remember - candles melt, it's what they do! Candles left in a warm area can warp, and bright light will fade them.
You might want to consider storing your candles in the refrigerator or freezer. Your candle will be safe from heat and light and will burn more slowly and evenly. Just be sure to wrap them well so the wick doesn't absorb moisture.
I Can't Smell My Candle!
Scented candles will give off more scent while burning than just sniffing the unlit wax. If you can not smell an unlit candle and you don't want to light it to smell it, simply rub it in your hands and give another whiff.
Don't forget that the human nose quickly becomes desensitized to fragrance. If you can't smell your candle, walk outside for a few minutes and then come back in!
How can I add my own fragrance?
Remember scenting candles can be as easy as adding your favorite essential oil to the pool of hot wax in your unscented candle. Just don't be surprised by a little smoke if you use this method.
Random Candle Notes...
Colored candles may "bleed" their color onto the 18th century Louis XIV armoire that you use as a candle shelf, so put something between your candle and your furnishings. Use a fire-proof base such as a glass, metal or stone plate or tray. A bowl is preferable if there is any chance that you might forget it!
Keeping your candle clean is easy. Just wipe it off with a soft cloth dipped in salad oil, or use a piece of nylon to remove fingerprints or light scratches.
To blow your candle out without spattering the wax, just put your finger up in front of the flame before blowing. This will divert the air stream around to both sides and prevent the wax from splashing.
and...(Obviously) Never leave burning candles unattended.