Candle Tunneling And Everything You Need To Know About Preventing It

  • By: Candle Crowd
  • Time to read: 11 min.

Regardless of whether you haven’t known about the expression “candle tunneling,” there’s a decent possibility you’ve encountered it before. However, it is a typical, preventable issue that happens when you don’t burn your favorite candle cautiously.

Candle tunneling is a factor associated with a lit candle melting the middle part of the candle but not affecting the wax at the edges. That prevents the wax at the far ends from melting evenly. The wick’s flame burns such that a vertical tunnel forms, which moves downwards. The thing is that it doesn’t look too good, but more than that, it reduces the lifespan of your scented candle.

All you have to do is prevent candle tunneling by making the candle wax burn properly. You’ll be fortunate if it fixes automatically, but that doesn’t always happen. So, ensure superb candle care if you want it to burn longer.

In this guide, we’ll assist you with getting what candle tunneling is, how to handle this situation, and how to stop it from occurring.

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Photographer: Content Pixie | Source: Unsplash

What is Candle Tunneling?

Burrowing occurs when just a little part of the wax surrounding the wick liquefies when the candle is burning. Rather than uniformly melting the whole wax’s surface, it will seem like the flame is tunneling down and making a vertical tunnel. Eventually, the wick of the tunneled candle doesn’t light up properly and finally gets drowned in the melting wax.

Candle tunneling is not only associated with low-quality candles, but it can happen to all candles, including a jar candle and a pillar candle. The problem is that the wax underneath the flame will transform into liquid, but the wax at extreme corners will remain hard. Burning the same way, the hard wax will remain hard, and the condition becomes adverse over time. When the candle wick goes too deep and can’t get enough oxygen, it will stop burning. So, you have to worry about purchasing your favorite candle once again.

Candle melting reduces the overall burn time of the candle. The burn time is much dependent on the wax a candle container comes with, and it is considered that a larger candle has a longer burn time. But candle tunneling is an unstoppable procedure that causes only a small portion of the wax to melt. And even if you have a big candle, still candle tunneling will lessen its life span.

Here’s What Leads to Candle Tunnelling

The basic two reasons for candle tunneling are the wick size and wax memory. Let’s discuss them in detail.

1- Small Wick Size Can Lead To Candle Tunneling

A candle maker knows the significance of the proper size of the wicks. The small wick size can stop the candles’ burning procedure. Here comes the role of candle manufacturers who should make candles with the right wick sizes.

This problem occurs due to the candle’s poor design, so prefer the top-notch brands that are much concerned about every aspect of their products. It means you’ll get the candles with perfect-sized wicks.

Candles often tunnel when the wick is not that large to heat the entire surface of the candle to melt evenly. In such a situation, you’ll see the wax tunnel moving downwards, and the wick will be melting the only wax it can reach out to.

If you are burning your favorite candles in a cold room, it is quite probable the candles melting will not be even. It is not only essential for the surrounding wax to melt, but the extreme edges of the wax should also melt along with it. That takes much time when the outer temperature is cool. So, make sure you’ll not place the candle in a cool place if the tunneling candle bothers you.

To refrain from the candle tunneling issue, it is recommended to burn the candle for one hour per inch width. It means if your candle’s diameter is 3 inches, let it burn for at least 3 hours to achieve maximum wax memory. And the wrong wick size is so troublesome that if you burn the candle for an hour, still far edges of your candle’s wax will not melt. The reason is that the small wick cannot produce enough heat required to melt the corner wax. Multi wick candle is a better option to avoid candle tunneling.

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Photographer: Gavin Penor | Source: Unsplash

2- A Poor Wax Memory Results in Candle Tunneling

To get aware of the term wax memory, we have to look into how a candle burns. The initial burn of the candle makes the wax melt and turn into liquid. But when you blow out the candle, and it cools, it doesn’t become hard as it was before that first candle burned. The wax can get hard like its previous state, but it takes up to two weeks, depending on the sort of wax your candle comes with. The melted wax is relatively soft and can fastly transform into the liquid than the wax placed along the walls of the candle container.

When you light up the wick again, the softer wax along the wick will melt first and be comparatively rapid. That softer area of the wax is called wax memory. The first burnt wax doesn’t get hard as before instantly.

The life span of the candle is much dependent on wax memory. If the outer ring of the wax doesn’t melt properly, the flame starts melting the wax towards the bottom. The reason is obvious that the heat is low and can’t reach the edges. Ultimately, the candle flame will burn up to the time it’s getting proper oxygen. Otherwise, it will stop functioning while leaving a lot of wasted wax in the container candle. The poor burn pattern of the candle users causes the candle tunneling.

Ways To Prevent Candle Tunneling

All problem lies in the uneven melting of the wax. It is the root cause of this major issue that must be handled to prevent any serious problem ahead. So, pay attention to the initial wax melting to experience a perfect burn later on.

For letting the candles melt more appropriately, it is the rule of thumb to ensure they burn for a significant time. At least in the beginning sessions, light the candle for three to fours hours.

Make sure your new candle burns evenly when you light it up for the first time because that will decide how your candle will burn for its entire life. What we recommend to refrain from candle tunnels is to be much careful about the first burn. The melt pool of your favorite candle should extend to extreme corners. Otherwise, most of the unmelted wax will be wasted. And, ultimately, it will be a loss of your hard-earned money and will ruin your plans for longer candle use.

Buy candles as per your needs.

Always buy the scented candle according to your requirement or usage. If you lit up the candle only for one hour or two, don’t go for wider diameter candles. But if you are having a vacation and want to enjoy the scented candle’s fragrance for many hours a day, choose the bigger candles. That’s because burning time is a crucial factor for controlling candle tunneling.

Use a wick trimmer before burning the candle.

Another very simple but beneficial step is to use a wick trimmer to trim the wick before lighting the flame of your candle. Leave the wick a bit longer if the candle is wide. That will increase the wax pool. Always choose a candle with the right sized wick. Just keep an eye on the burning candle’s flame. If any issue arises, then snuff it off.

Few Tips For An Even Burn

The first burn is essential for smooth candle melting, so follow the given tips to let your candle burn evenly.

  • A candle must burn for one hour according to per inch of its diameter.
  • A pro tip for the big candles is to trim their wicks up to 8mm for a clean burn.
  • Never snuff off the candle before the entire surface of the candle melts.
  • Keep repeating this procedure from time to time to get rid of candle tunneling.
candle tunneling; candles melting; uneven burning candle; even burning candles; candles burning evenly; preventing candle tunneling; multi wick candles; wax melting
Photographer: Milan Popovic | Source: Unsplash

What To Do If Your Candle Suffers Candle Tunneling?

You may land here because your most liked scented candle has started tunneling, and you want to solve this issue. If candle tunneling is in its initial stages, resolving the matter is not that difficult. It’s good to stop that issue in the start to enjoy better burn onwards. Apply any of the following tips according to the severity of the tunneling situation.

If you have bought new soy candles and burned them for a shorter time. Resultantly, the candle tunneling began, no need to worry about it. Resetting the wax memory is possible because it can lead it to its maximum extent.

1- Use a Hairdryer

There is no rocket science in readjusting your favorite candle’s wax memory. All you need is a hairdryer to smoothen the top wax of the candle to transform it into liquid wax. The hairdryer’s airflow will soften the wax and cause it to melt. When you burn the candle again, there will be uniformity in the entire wax surface so that the wax will melt evenly.

2- The Foil Method

Another easiest way to level the candle wax is to use foil. By placing the foil over the surface of your scented candle, you can trap the heat inside to smooth the top layer. That is a very advantageous method for making the stubborn wax melt within a little time.

Though it is a very simple method, special care must be given to protect oneself from burning. The foil becomes so warm that it can burn the user. Moreover, never use foil for a longer duration because it can affect the candle’s container.

To begin the procedure, first, light the candle safely. Be cautious not to burn your hands while placing the aluminum foil over the top of the candle. Wrap the foil in a way that it covers the candle, but a hole should be left in the middle of that domed lid. Let the foil be in this position for an hour or more. If the candle size is large, give some more time to the foil to complete its mission. Then unwrap the foil carefully; it won’t be easy to touch it because of its warmth. It is an enormous method to cure candle tunneling.

Methods To Handle Severe Candle Tunneling

The processes mentioned above will make the solid wax of the jar candle burn evenly, but if it doesn’t happen, don’t worry. Give these methods a try to get rid of candle tunneling and enjoy the aroma of your favorite candle for a longer time.

1- Candle Warmer

Maybe you are not aware of what a candle warmer is, let me tell you. This remarkable equipment will help you enjoy the full benefits of those pricey candles that were tunneling badly.

A candle warmer is a great electric heater designed to liquefy the excess wax off the scented candle. It doesn’t need an open flame; rather, a heating platform can do the same job efficiently. The candle will start producing scent without requiring a flame. It is mostly used for container candles. The gentle heat melts the wax evenly to fill your room with your desired aroma within a short time.

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Photographer: Mindaugas Norvilas | Source: Unsplash

2- Tealight Oil Burner

The tealight oil burner is the last remedy to use the wax of your scented candle fully. For using a tealight burner:

  • Utilize the scented wax of the candle by removing it manually.
  • Place the wax on the top part of the burner while the lit tealight beneath that portion in the base.
  • Don’t put water in the wax and burn the flame to let it melt the wax, and start distributing your favorite fragrance. The burner will become super hot, so don’t touch it.

3- Wick Replacement

Wick replacement is the last method you can apply to your scented candle for making the candles melt properly. But there is a risk in using this method because you can either be successful or fail. But instead of getting worried about candle tunneling, it is good to take the risk to become successful.

You can use this procedure when the tunnel is too deep that you can’t apply any other option to cure it. This time replace the swallowed wick with the new one to experience a change.

First of all, gather the things you need to replace the wick. Buy a new wick because that’s the main element of that procedure. You must have an oven at home, it can work well for you, but it is also good if you use a heat gun. And last but not least: apple corer, if you have it in your kitchen, it’s great. But you can get an apple corner from any nearby grocery store quite easily.

After gathering all the required items, follow these steps to replace the wick.

  • Pick the apple corer and push it through the wax in the middle of the candle around the wick.
  • Now, twist it and drag the wax upwards. Make the wick come out of the candle along with the wax plug. If the wick is too stubborn and giving you a tough time, you can pull it out using the needle-nose pliers. Separate the wax from the wick, throw the wick away but keep the wax for refilling the candle.
  • Put the wax back in its place but don’t worry if it’s not that perfect.
  • Use the heat gun for melting the wax entirely or put it in the oven for 20 minutes.
  • When the surface dries, use a skewer or toothpick to make a hole for putting the new wick tab. The wick and wax gap will fill when the candle is burnt.

If the new wick lacks the tab, it may tip over when the candle is about to finish. But it’s better than a candle burns than it never burns again.

Final Verdict

Candle tunneling is a problem that everyone might have experienced because it is common. But you can’t say that it is unstoppable or incurable. With a little effort, you can fix this issue and keep on enjoying your preferred fragrance for an extended time. Rare, expensive candles are free from this issue as the problem fixes itself but not every time. But to clear the candle tunneling matter, sometimes the user should take drastic action to avoid more hassle.

Instead of throwing your best-loved candle out of rage, restore it by applying any simple procedure above. The above methods are not time-consuming, so even if you are still a busy person, you can apply them quickly.

But it’s a fact that prevention is better than cure, so whenever you buy a new candle and burn it for the first time, be careful. The first burn should be one hour per inch of the candle. Once the candle burns evenly, the candle tunneling will not happen.


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