If you've ever used a candle and had the wax around the wick melt faster than the wax towards the edges, you've experienced candle tunneling. It's a common problem, especially with lower-quality candles, and is frustrating.
So how to fix candle tunneling or prevent it from happening? We've put together this guide to help you burn your candles evenly and save your candles—and the environment.
Prevention Is the Best Method
Candles aren't cheap, and nobody enjoys seeing 30% of their candle wax going to waste. Tunneling not only wastes your purchase but also further contributes to environmental waste.
Waste is a significant problem for climate change and air pollution. Preventing tunneling means you use more of the candle and minimize waste production, thus doing your part to protect the environment.
If you don't use candles often, you may not be familiar with the best way to manage the first burn. Many people simply blow out the flame. What you should do is ensure that the entire top layer of wax has melted before you extinguish the flame.
Check the wax every half hour or so on the first burn. If the surface hasn't melted evenly, you can remedy this by gently tilting the flame towards untouched areas or passing a lit match around the edges.
Wax that has melted previously will melt faster. If your ‘pool’ is small, then subsequent burns will cause tunneling as the wax around the wick will melt before the heat can reach the edges. The best way to prevent candle tunneling is to get it right the first time.
How to Fix Candle Tunneling: the 2nd Burn
If your candle has developed a tunnel already, it's still possible to fix it. The heat from the flame won't do by itself, so you need to disperse heat across the surface of the wax using one of the techniques below.
1. The Hairdryer Method
Using a hairdryer to soften and melt the top layer of wax allows you to somewhat even out the surface. It will also make the wax on the top layer easier to melt on the next burn.
Be careful not to blast for too long — you want as much wax to remain unmelted as possible.
2. The Oven Method
Another option is to pre-heat an oven to around 175F/80C and pop the candle inside for a few minutes. If you use this method, be sure to:
- Keep a close eye on it & remove it as soon as the surface becomes smooth
- Place the candle on a tray
- Wear an oven mitt! 175F is a low oven temperature, but it's still too hot to touch.
3. The Foil Method
You can use aluminum foil to distribute heat more evenly around the surface. Form the foil into a tent with a ventilation hole in the top. Light the wick and place the foil tent over the top of the candle. The redistributed heat should melt the wax around the edges.
Caution: when removing the foil tent, be sure to use an oven mitt or lift it off with tweezers. It will be very hot!
In the end…
The best ways to avoid candle tunneling are:
- Buy high-quality candles
- Make sure the first burn is done right!
Shop eco-friendly candles to minimize tunneling and protect the environment!