They are the luxe default present worthy of every occasion, from birthdays to housewarming parties, not to mention those ‘oops, I totally forgot to buy a present’ occasions (we've all been there).
Whether it’s a candle that’s been thoughtfully gifted or self-bought, you want to make it worthwhile and last for as long as possible. Looking after your candle will ensure it burns evenly (no tunnelling!), effectively scents a space and brings delight whenever you get ready to strike that match.
In search of strategies for maximising your candle, we tapped Estelle Omnes from luxe French fragrance brand Diptyque, for her personal candle care tips learned on the job and at home, so you can look after your high-end candle.
Burn properly from the beginning
Most candles will list an approximate burn time. For example, “a 190g Diptyque candle is promised to last for 60 hours when used properly,” says Omnes, but your best chance at achieving maximum burn time is if you start off burning the right way. “When you first light a candle, burn it for at least two to three hours,” she advises. This is to ensure that the wax melts evenly and to the edge and bottom of the candle, or else tunnelling may occur. This happens when a candle doesn’t burn evenly, so each subsequent burn creates a deeper hole in the candle. It has to be one of the most frustrating parts of candle burning, but the problem goes deeper than annoyance, as tunnelling also greatly reduces the lifespan of a candle, and “is most complicated,” says Omnes with a sigh.
But the good news is that you can fix candle tunnelling. Next time you light up the candle, “you have to burn it for a really long period of time, so that the candle catches up with the hole,” she notes.
Don’t blow it
Watch the wick
This is the trick to how to make a candle burn evenly. “Once you have put out the candle, use something like a match to re-centre the wick while the wax is still soft,” says Omnes. And trim the wick before you next burn it. “When you burn a candle, the wax evaporates, which makes the candle go down, and the wick does not go down at the same speed. You need to cut the wick to only three millimetres.
” If you leave your candle burning for more than three hours, Omnes recommends putting out the candle and trimming the wick before re-lighting it, or else the candle will begin to burn the cotton of the wick “which is what creates the black smoke and blackens the candle holder.” For candle aficionados, it might be worth investing in a (very chic) wick trimmer.
Re-use the candle vessel
There are several ways to remove leftover wax from the vessel when the candle has finished burning. Omnes likes to put the candle in the freezer overnight, which shrinks the wax so it can be easily removed by hand (remove any remnants with alcohol and hot water). Other methods include pouring hot water into the vessel and waiting for the wax to solidify and settle, or putting the vessel in the microwave, which works well but is restrictive for some of the limited-edition candles that may have metallic finishes. Remember to dispose of the wax safely in the rubbish bin rather than the sink.
Omnes uses the smaller empty vessels to store cotton pads or makeup, and turns larger ones into planters. And with a long career at Diptyque, she does have a significant collection of empty candle vessels at home. “I probably have too many!” she says with a laugh. “But I love it.”
Candle safety tips
You probably already know, but just in case…
- Never place a lit candle near a vent or breeze, or any furniture or flammable fabrics.
- Always put out any burning candles before leaving the house or going to sleep. Unattended burning candles are a huge hazard.
- Stop burning candles when there is only one quarter inch of wax left.
- Don’t touch or move a burning candle, or one that has liquefied wax.
- Ensure your burning candle is out of reach of any small humans and pets.