Candle Burning Info, Tips and Safety
Do your candles burn clean?
Yes. We attempt to engineer our candles so they don't emit black soot. Our intention since 1993 was to make a great burning vegetable based candle. Now our mission has expanded to include sourcing organically farmed raw materials from fair trade sources.
The longer my candle burns the smaller the wick. Why?
The pool of liquid wax near the wick may be flooding the flame. This will cause the flame to either become smaller or extinguish. If you start to notice this problem, blow out the candle and poor off the liquid wax. If it is one of our candles, call me because that should never happen, and we may have accidentally used the wrong size wick.
Will the candles burn slower if put in the freezer first?
I've seen that recommended on websites but if you store candles in the freezer, they will not burn as well. Frozen wax will result in less molten wax that is available for consumption in the flame. This causes a smaller, dimmer flame that barely generates enough heat to maintain the burning process. For a scented candle it would also limit the volume of the fragranced pool of wax, thereby decreasing the hot throw.
It's even possible that the candle will start consuming the wick as fuel and give off excess black soot or smoke. Eventually the candle will warm up to room temperature and proceed to burn in a more normal manner. Likewise, if you're in really cold weather and left the candle in a trunk of a car, you need to let the candle adjust to the ambient room temperature before you light it.
Do your tapers drip?
The palm tapers are dripless, which means that they won't drip as long as they are not in a strong draft. When you stop the draft they will recover or consume any wax that did drip. Our decorative hand dipped, hand colored tapers can drip. With any candle it's essential that you only burn it in a holder, so if it does drip it won't spill onto furniture.
Does the industry have safety standards for candles?
Yes. The National Candle Association (NCA) has played a leading role in the development of national industry standards through the ASTM International standards for the fire-safety labeling of candles, the heat resistance of glass candleholders, and the fire-safety design of candles. In addition, there are two reference ASTM standards for candles, one on terminology and one on test-lab methodologies for manufacturers. A standard to establish fire-safety specifications for candleholders and candle rings is currently being developed. I found all this information on NCA's website. I also believe it's true that NCA is funded primarily by the largest candle manufacturers, so I suppose that some of the other stuff that they say on their website is political or encouraged by their lawyers.
For example, on the FAQ pages of their website, the answer to "Is candle soot harmful?", they respond, "The minuscule amount of soot produced by a candle is the natural byproduct of incomplete combustion. Candle soot is composed primarily of elemental carbon particles, and is similar to the soot given off by kitchen toasters and cooking oils. These everyday household sources of soot are not considered a health concern, and are chemically different from the soot formed by the burning of diesel fuel, coal, gasoline, etc."
However, there have been a few studies and at least one lawsuit that alleges that black candle soot discolors drapes, walls, and gets into a home central air system. Also, how is burning paraffin (a crude oil fuel) so different from burning diesel or kerosene? Our recommendation is: if you notice black soot around the rim of a jar candle, it is not burning cleanly. Most importantly: never leave a candle unattended. If you leave the room, extinguish the candle. If you want to add fragrance to a room you are not occupying, try our aromatherapy diffuser.
What causes a candle to smoke, and what can I do to correct it?
A well-made candle will create virtually no smoke when burning properly. However, if the wick becomes too long, or an air current disturbs the flame's teardrop shape, or the size of the mouth of a jar prevents sufficient air circulation, or too much color or fragrance clogs the wick, a small amount of unburned carbon particles (soot) will escape from the flame as a visible wisp of smoke.
Any candle will emit soot if the flame is disturbed by a draft. A well designed candle will recover as soon as the draft is removed. To avoid this, always trim the wick to 1/4 or 3/8 inch before every use and be sure to place candles away from drafts, vents or air currents. If a candle continually flickers or smokes, it is not burning properly and should be extinguished. Allow the candle to cool, trim the wick, make sure the area is draft free, and then re-light.
How do I keep my candle from burning unevenly or "tunneling"?
This generally occurs when the candle isn't allowed to form a uniform pool of melted wax on the first burn. "Tunneling" may occur if the candle is lit and extinguished before the pool of wax has formed. Upon the first lighting, let the candle burn for a couple of hours or until you see that the wax is melted all the way across the top of the candle. Some candle waxes seem to have more of a memory than others. What I mean is, if you burn it for a short time, when you relight the candle it will tend to repeat that burn pattern.
Why do some wicks become mushroom shaped?
When the candle is consuming wax more quickly than the flame can burn completely, carbon deposits may develop. This will most likely occur when the wick needs to be trimmed. Blow out the flame, trim the wick, clean off carbon deposit and relight the candle.
How safe is it to burn your candles?
When you burn a candle in your home you are creating a control burn site just like you would if you were burning leaves in your back yard. So the most important caution is: never leave a burning candle unattended. If you light it and leave the room (for any significant period of time), you need to extinguish the candle. So we tell our customers that a candle is as safe as the person lighting it.
How do I get the longest burn from my candle?
To get the best burn from both pillar and container candles, burn the candle long enough the first time until a wax pool forms that covers almost the entire top of the candle. With pillar candles you need to leave a rim of about 1/8". With container or jar candles the initial burn should create a burn pool that covers the entire top surface of the jar. Extinguish the candle when it reaches this point.
The burn time depends on the diameter of the candle or container, the wick size, the type of wax, the ambient room temperature, drafts of air around the candle, etc. Each time you light the candle after that, plan to burn it until it reaches the "memory pool" you created with the first burn. Generally this is longer than the first burn. Following these guidelines will ensure a cleaner and longer lasting candle. You must also remember to reduce the wick to 1/4" before each burn and keep all candles away from drafts as much as possible.
What is the best way to extinguish a candle?
The best way to extinguish a candle is with a wick dipper. This is a metal tool designed to push the lit wick into the pool of melted wax to put out the flame. After the flame is extinguished, use the dipper to gently lift the wick back up. It is now wax coated and ready for the next burn. Using a wick dipper to extinguish a flame eliminates the smoke, smell and splattering that may occur when you blow a candle out. Another method is to use any metal tool to press the wick into the liquid wax. Then straighten the wick.
Are there safety rules for burning candles?
Candles are safe when burned properly, responsibly and according to manufactures directions. When burning candles, consumers should follow these basic safety rules:
How do I get spilled wax out of fabric and furniture?
- Keep lighted candles in sight.
- Never leave candles unattended.
- Never burn candle on or near anything that can catch fire.
- Keep candles out of reach of children and pets.
- Keep candles away from drafts and vents.
- Always use an appropriate candleholder placed on a stable, heat resistant surface.
When wax spills on some hard surfaces, it can be easily removed. With Palm Wax I usually use a plastic spatula and just chip it off. However, when it gets onto carpeting, tablecloths or upholstery, it presents a much greater challenge.
To remove wax from these materials, you'll need a household clothing iron, some paper towels, and home dry-cleaning solvent. First, lay a dry, absorbent paper towel across the wax stain. Then, press a heated iron lightly against the top surface. This will heat up and re-melt the wax, which gets absorbed into the paper towel. Make sure not to leave the iron in one place for long, as it can burn the carpet beneath the paper towel without you seeing it. If the surface still shows signs of wax residue after this procedure have been repeated a few times, try these techniques:
Some of my candles either do not fit securely into their holders or the holders are too small. What can I do?
- Take a small amount of home dry-cleaning solvent and apply to a slightly damp sponge or cloth. Blot the affected area, using as little if the solvent as possible, so as not to damage the carpet backings.
- Mix a mild detergent with a small amount of warm water and blot the affected area with a cloth or sponge. Make sure the detergent contains no bleach or alkalides, as these could will damage the carpet color.
- With Palm Wax™ you can try cooling it with a sealed freezer container; next, take a stiff brush to break it apart; then just vacuum it up.
If you have been unable to find a candleholder which properly fits your candle, try the following: If the candle is too big for the holder, shave some wax off the bottom of the candle or hold it under warm water until the wax is pliable. If the candle is too small for the holder, use candle adhesive to keep the candle upright. Or you can light the candle and let some wax drip into the holder and, before it hardens, push the candle into the pliable wax.
Why does my candle drip or burn unevenly?
Any candle (even dripless Palm Tapers™) will drip or burn unevenly when placed in a draft. Therefore, if you are having problems, first check for drafts from windows, air conditioning units, etc., or try rotating your candle to offset uneven burning. If you continue to have problems, you might want to try a better quality candle.
What other general safety tips can you offer, in addition to what you list on your labels?
The most important candle rules to follow are never leave a candle burning while unattended and make sure the candle is being burned in a proper candleholder or on a suitable candle base. Also, never allow a candle to burn within a few inches of any decorations which may be surrounding the candle or candleholder. Don't burn them near drapes that move in the wind.
One customer put a jar candle on a slanted drafting table and, as the jar heated up, it slipped down the table landing on his chair and setting it on fire. Another customer put a Chakra pillar on an antique desk with a leather top without a candle holder. She claimed the leather caught fire. Most accidents occur when people are careless or forget about the burning candle
How short should I trim the wick on my candle?
Most candle wicks should be trimmed to about 1/4 to 3/8 inch for burning. If the wick on your candle is too long it may cause the candle to burn unevenly and faster than normal.
A candle (not one of yours) that I bought from a craft store broke the glass container. How can I prevent that from happening?
If you are using a glass candleholder, it is smart to keep the wick trimmed and make sure it is centered. Especially if the wick is too close to the side, it can crack some glass.
Once I have finished burning a votive candle, how do I get the remaining wax out of its holder?
With Palm Votives™ and tea lights, you can let the candle burn until there is no more wax. If there is just a little Palm Wax, I've stuck it in the dishwasher on a long cycle and it melts away. You can also take an implement like a blunt knife and scrape the wax out of the holder. Palm wax has the advantage of breaking up easily, instead of sticking to the holder.
I am planning a dinner party and will be having candles on the table. What advice do you have?
For a formal meal I always prefer Palm Tapers™. They give off a really bright light, don't drip and smoke and, being unscented, do not interfere with the aroma of the food served. For the ambiance, even if you do not intend to burn the candles, the wick on each candle should be briefly lit to give it a charred look. Not only will this make the candle look more realistic, but it will make lighting them during dinner quicker and easier. Standing there trying to light a candle when everyone is ready to eat and staring at you is not cool.
Why did my candle burn down the side, creating waterfall effect that pooled most of the wax onto my counter top?
First of all, it is always best to burn any candle on a holder that can catch the wax. In general, I've seen it happen more often with vegetable wax pillars. Soy pillars, now mostly withdrawn from the market, burned notoriously badly.
After 10 years of experimentation, I think we can offer a 100% Palm Wax pillar that burns like a paraffin or beeswax pillar. As the candle burns, the melting wax folds into the wax pool instead of water falling off the side or tunneling down the middle, leaving a cylinder of unconsumed wax.
Wax pooling can be caused by several variables such as: adding too much color and scent oil which messes with the wax's melting point and burning characteristics, much like salt changes the boiling temperature of water.
Some wax blends melt and burn more readily than others. You can compensate by using wicks of different sizes, but you must also be concerned with flame size. Very large wicks tend to smoke. A wick that is too small chokes and sputters which also creates black soot. If the neck of the jar is too narrow, it does not allow enough air circulation and also causes the flame to cough up smoke. A candle that is repeatedly burned for short periods of time is liable to "tunnel" down the middle, while one burned for 3 to 5 hours at a sitting is more likely to burn evenly.
At a dinner party, what is the appropriate height for a candle on the table?
I try to keep the candle flame slightly below eye level. At eye level the flickering of candlelight can be annoying or distracting during cross-table conversations. For the most elegant of tables, select tall tapers. The larger the table, the taller the candles can be. Tall candles illuminate the room and the diners' faces, while short candles illuminate the food. I always feel tapers are more elegant than pillars. They are also less expensive. Votives and tea lights remind me of a restaurant. Always use unscented candles, because you don't want a candle fragrance competing with your fine wines and gourmet servings.
How can I restore the luster of my candle?
Burn the candle to help it fulfill its destiny and buy another one! I have friends that buy novelty candles and never burn them. I threaten to bring a lighter to the party. Soiled or dusty candles can be cleaned by using a nylon stocking. You can also use alcohol and a soft cloth. A drop of salad oil, wiped on a dull candle with a soft cloth will also restore luster.
How do you get wax out of fabrics?
Always, consult the laundering instructions provided by the manufacturer of the item. If it's an expensive fabric, have the item cleaned professionally, especially if the wax was dyed with a strong color. If it's just a small spot of uncolored unscented wax, let the wax harden and then scrape it up using the back of a knife. Boiling water poured through the cloth is helpful, especially for a tablecloth (if the type of cloth permits). The final traces of wax can often be removed by applying dry cleaning fluid, after the fabric has dried out completely.
How do I remove wax from lacquered furniture?
During college I apprenticed with an antique furniture restorer. I've seen some beautiful pieces ruined by spilled wax that goes right trough the finish and stains the wood. If the piece is expensive, take it to a professional. It's important to know what the finish is: French polish, shellac, wax, sprayed or brushed, water based lacquer, or a more modern type of synthetic varnish.
To remove wax from hardier Varathane finish furniture, make sure the wax is as hard as possible by running an ice cube over it. If there is a big pile of wax, you can scrape most of it away with a plastic spatula. You can also use a wooden spoon, ice cream stick or a paint stir-stick. Remove the last traces of wax with a piece of clean cheesecloth. Turn the cloth often and confine your efforts to the stained area. Don't use lighter or cleaning fluid unless you really know what you're doing. If it eats into the finish, you're in trouble. Polish the furniture surface with non solvent based polish or carnauba paste wax.
How can I remove bees wax from countertops or tables?
First, try a little warm soapy water on a cotton cloth. If that does not work, you can use lemon oil to remove beeswax from countertops and tables. Beeswax mixes with almost any citrus oil and wipes right up!
How can I keep my jar candles looking their best?
When not in use, store your jar candles in a cool, dry place.
Sometimes my jar candle gets black. What is the cause and how do I clean it off?
This is called "sooting" and can be caused by poorly sized wicks, a draft, by not trimming the wick to 1/4", or by the jar neck being too narrow to allow sufficient circulation around the wick. This is one of the reasons why we never use the apothecary style jars.
To clean the glass, follow these simple instructions: while candle and glass is cool, use a clean damp cloth and wipe the soot off, taking care to completely dry the area before lighting the candle again. If your candle still builds up soot deposits after all this, just throw it away and go out and buy a cleaner burning candle.
How can I remove the metal wick base if I want to use the glass for storage?
Cool the glass completely. Then it depends on what kind of wax it is. With palm wax you can just use a dull butter knife and chip it out. With paraffin and soy candles, the remaining wax is usually sticky, so you can try remelting the remaining wax with hot water. Very few candle makers (not us) glue the wick stand to the glass. If you pour in enough rubbing alcohol to cover the base, and let it sit for a few days, the rubbing alcohol should soften the glue and release the base.
Why do my votives turn into a puddle of wax when I put them on a plate to burn?
Most votives, and especially Palm Wax Votives™, are meant to liquefy fully to the edges and then down to the bottom of the votive glass. We size the wick to help quickly liquefy the palm wax and scent in the votive glass thus creating the largest wax pool possible. Palm Wax Votives are meant to be long burning and should burn up to 15 hours when used in a properly-sized votive container.
Can I use a candle warmer (candle melter) with your candles?
We have tested them on candle warmers and at first they have a decent hot throw, but over time it diminishes. Votive candles seem to work the best. For our other jar candles we recommend burning our candles to experience maximum hot throw.
What gimmick will marketing experts think up next to sell more candle wax? In our opinion, a more efficient way to add maximum fragrance to a room is use an aromatherapy diffuser. It will quickly fill a room with fragrance.
What do you do with the left over wax from a candle warmer? It will clog the drains in your home, so you will have to throw it in the garbage. In short, it's a pretty impractical and wasteful way to fragrance your room.
Can I use my candle repeatedly on a candle warmer?
Yes, the wax will solidify when you turn off the lamp. Turn the lamp on again and the wax will melt again and release the aroma. The scent will eventually run out, so you may need to pour out some of the melted wax or add a drop of scented oil to regenerate the aroma.
How deep will the wax melt on my candle warmer?
It depends on the softness of the wax, the thickness of the glass, and the distance from the candle to the warmer. For most 4 inch tall jar candles, the first layer of wax melted will be about one inch deep.
Using a candle warmer, to get maximum scent diffusion, you will have to keep pouring out the wax (when the scent runs out), so eventually most of the scented jar candle wax will melt. It's a bit of a hassle.
Better use an aromatherapy diffuser with 100% fragrance, diluted in a little water. And with candle warmers, you still pay for the wax, even though you're really not using it.
Some manufacturers claim that they can use more scent with wickless candles. It's true, but they still have to also purchase wax, pay for the added weight in shipping, etc. If you do not want a flame, it is most cost-effective to use pure essential oils directly. That way you can control perfectly how much fragrance you put in a room. You can also just put a flat bottomed glass on the candle warmer and add some pure fragrance. Now you have a wickless non-candle with 100% scent concentration.
How can I keep my candles looking their best?
A good candle is meant to be burned, the word "candle" means "light". By burning a candle you create an ambiance, a feeling of peace and coziness.
Candles discolor or fade when they are exposed to intense light for extended periods. We do not recommend displaying your candles for long periods in direct sunlight, fluorescent lighting or other strong illumination. Thankfully, our candles sell through quickly in stores instead of sitting on the store shelf.
Wax will soften in temperatures over 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This may cause most taper candles to bend, but not our "Palm Tapers™. If you don't intend to use a candle any time soon, store it in a cool, dry place.
Why is my candle leaving wax on the sides of the container as it burns?
This generally occurs when the candle isn't allowed to form a uniform pool of melted wax. "Tunneling" may occur if the candle is lit and then extinguished before the pool of melted wax has formed. Try to burn your candle a minimum of 2 or 3 hours to insure a sufficient wax pool is created.
Some candle makers use square or odd shaped jars and they will tend to leave wax in the corners. In general we choose wide mouthed jars to ensure a wider wax pool for maximum hot throw.
Another cause may be the ambient temperature in the room. In a cold room, your candle will leave even more wax on the sides.
Why do I have trouble getting my soy candle to burn right after I trim the wick?
It might be best not to trim the wick when lighting your soy candle for the first time. The candle maker probably set the wick at the proper length to get it to light easily. If the wick is too short, the wax can melt around it and put out the flame.
Should I use Candle Cappers?
They were originally designed for apothecary jar candles, the jar candles with a fairly narrow neck. The concept was they would shield the flame from drafts, and allegedly result in "a cleaner, smooth burning candle".
We tested them and were not impressed. Because air flow is restricted, the cappers may reduce the air flow around the wick, which is already a problem for the apothecary "Yankee Candle" style jars. It causes the candle to puff or cough which then creates black soot. The capper can also limit amount of fragrance that gets diffused; however, the reduction is generally not dramatic for most scents.
If you have a good burning candle, and you keep it away from drafts, then the Candle Capper is superfluous. We have found that wide mouthed jars with a perfectly round opening yield the best burn results.
What causes a candle to smoke, and what can I do to correct it?
A well-made candle will create virtually no smoke when burning properly. However, if the wick becomes too long, or an air current disturbs the flame's teardrop shape, small amounts of unburned carbon particles (soot) will escape from the flame as a visible wisp of smoke. Any candle will soot if the flame is disturbed.
To avoid this, always trim the wick to ¼ inch before every use and be sure to place candles away from drafts, vents or air currents. If a candle continually flickers or smokes, it is not burning properly and should be extinguished. Allow the candle to cool, trim the wick, make sure the area is draft free, and then re-light. (Courtesy of National Candle Association)
Why shouldn't foreign matter (bits of matches, pieces of wick, flies and other insects) ever be in the liquid wax?
The foreign matter can soak up wax and catch fire; it thus acts as a second wick, causing the candle to disintegrate and thus become a hazard. This is especially true when the foreign matter is at the edge of the candle.
In pillar candles the edge can be breached and the candle keeps on running and will 'waterfall' off the side and puddle onto what is at the base, hopefully a candle base. In jar candles, if the burning material floats over to the side of the glass it can cause the jar glass to shatter.
Tiny foreign particles (dust) can clog the wick. As a result, the wick cannot absorb the liquid wax any more and peters out. This also happens with low quality pigments and dyes.
Why is it that candles of certain colors drip more than others?
High pigment content can hinder the absorptive function of the wick. This can arise particularly with dark colors. However, we have found candle dyes that allow for the darkest blue or even black candles to burn great.
How can we stop the candle burning at a tilt and the liquid wax running out?
If a draft is pushing the flame to one side, either stop the draft or rotate the candle. Should, however, the wick bend over to one side, and then gently straighten it when still warm.
Why is there always a piece left over of a pillar candle that doesn't burn and thus can be thought of as a loss?
Especially with pillar candles, many manufacturers use a wick clip that forces the flame to extinguish itself before all the wax is consumed. It's a smart safety feature, preventing the flame and the melted wax to reach what's under it, e.g. a dinner tablecloth.
What should be observed with flower arrangements near candles?
There should never be any combustible material near a burning candle. For that reason, I would discourage burning a candle surrounded by a wreath or dried flower arrangement.
Should we burn real candles in our Christmas tree?
In our opinion, this is quite dangerous, and we definitely do not recommend it. A dry burning twig can quickly set the whole tree alight.
How far apart are burning candles to be placed?
A minimum of 18 inches or so. However, pay attention to the individual heat emission which might have an effect on the next candle. The candles should not be too near each other, as otherwise they heat up too quickly and start to either drip or bend. Room temperature also has a role to play.
How safe are candelabras?
Arranging candles one above the other, on a fireplace mantle for example, can cause the top candle to burn irregularly as a result of heat rising from the one below and it may start to warp.
Also, when you use the fireplace the heat can melt the candles. Any time candles are arranged very close to one another, it introduces additional risk. Never leave any candle burning unattended. When you leave a room, make sure all your candles are out.
What should be done when the wick still glows strongly once the candle has been put out?
It is quite natural for the wick to glow a little afterwards. If it really glows strongly, then either dip the wick into the liquid wax or wet your fingers and pinch it.
Why do some candles splutter or crackle?
This is a sign that the wick has taken in moisture. Changed air humidity can cause this to happen, especially when a candle is kept outside overnight. A novelty on the candle market is use of wood wicks, which make crackling sounds. But most candle lovers do not really like their candles to make noise as well.
What should be heeded when using glass candlesticks for candles?
Glass candlesticks in which the candles – particularly the conical ones – are completely burned may crack from the heat. This can be avoided by extinguishing the candle before the flame reaches the upper edge of the candlestick nozzle.
Can candles be kept for long periods of time?
I have some decorative beeswax candles I bring out at Christmas but don't ever burn.
Candles generally can be kept for an unlimited period as long as they are properly stored. Always place long candles (taper candles, household candles, thin pillar candles etc.) flat when storing. Otherwise the effect of warmth can deform them.
High fat-content candles can give rise to the packaging (plastic film, paper, cardboard) becoming discolored or soft. Also, mice and rats do eat candle wax, so keep your candles out of their reach.
What do you do when lighting a new candle?
Place the wick upright when lighting a new candle.
Why do I sometimes have problems lighting my beeswax candles?
In order for a beeswax candle to burn, the wick needs to draw melted wax through it. When lighting your candle, apply the flame at the base of the wick so the wax melts and is absorbed into the wick. This is particularly important on pillar beeswax candles with larger diameter wicks.
If you have made several failed attempts to light your candle, you may have burned up the wick until there is only char left. Trim this off and carve a bit of solid wax from the base of the wick. Now apply the flame to the base of the wick. If this still does not work, go out and buy a better burning candle.
My beeswax candles have a whitish film on them after being stored for a while. What do I do?
This film is called "beeswax bloom" and is actually a sign that you likely have pure beeswax candles. It is harmless, and does not mean the wax is deteriorating in any way. To remove it on smoothly shaped candles, wipe gently with a soft cloth. I like to use a discarded nylon stocking.
For deeply incised designs or novelty shaped candles, use a hair dryer set on low to medium. Do not aim the dryer too long in one place or you will melt the wax! Keep the dryer moving. This treatment will also refresh the scent of the candle because on the surface it will diminish over time.