Candle Tunneling: What It Is & How To Prevent It

Candle Tunneling Prevention Technique

Lighting a candle seems simple enough–just light the wick and let it melt, right? Well, not so fast. There’s a right way and a wrong way to burn a candle for optimal results. By burning your candle correctly, you can avoid tunneling, where the wick forms a tunnel down the middle of the candle, leaving an unmelted ring of wax around its outer edge. If you continue to burn your candle incorrectly after it has started tunneling, it will keep forming this same unmelted ring around its outer edge every time you light it until you fix it; we at Aluminate Life will help you with this process. Keep reading for more information about what tunneling looks like and how to prevent it!

What Is Candle Tunneling?

When a candle burns in a tunnel-like shape, it can waste wax down the sides of the jar. This is often due to the candle not burning evenly or tunneling. If you invest in a beautiful, decorative candle, you don’t want to end up with an uneven burn and wasted wax down the sides of your jar. There are steps you can take to prevent candle tunneling. With just a bit of effort, your candles will be looking and burning as good as new!

Why Do Candles Tunnel?

If you notice that your candle wax is tunneling, there are a few possible causes. It could be caused by a large draft, the size of your flame, or even the type of wax used. For example, soy wax candles are less susceptible to tunneling than paraffin wax candles. Cheap candles often have additives that don’t evaporate easily when they are lit, resulting in a slower burn time and more wax buildup on the edge of the container. Buying higher-quality candles and using them properly is the most cost-effective and least wasteful option in the long run!

How to Prevent Candle Tunneling

The following tips will help you fix candle tunneling

  • Trim the wick

The wick on a candle should be trimmed before it is lit for the first time. Trim it to 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch with scissors or a wick trimmer. If your candle has a wood wick — an eighth to a quarter of an inch high — you can skip trimming it before the first burn. After the first time, you light the candle, break off the tip of the wick before lighting the candle again to prevent debris from getting into the wax.

  • Let the top layer of wax melt to the edge of the candle to prevent tunneling

To avoid tunneling, make sure to burn your candle long enough for the top layer of wax to melt completely, from the wick to the edge of the container. Not only will this release a lot of scent, but it will also stop tunneling in its tracks. We recommend burning your candle for at least 3 to 4 hours, ensuring a full wax melt to prevent tunneling. By doing this the first time you light a new candle, you ensure that the wax will melt in the same way every time you light it. This is true for all subsequent burns, so follow this rule every time you light it. 

Please note – Not every candle needs that long to melt the top layer of wax. Make sure to read and follow any instructions the manufacturer provides for your specific candle, and don’t burn your candle longer than the recommended time on the label. 

  • Be sure to avoid air drafts when you burn the candle

If the flame on your candle moves around or leans to one side while it’s burning, it could be caused by a strong airflow. Turn off any fans and avoid placing your candle in front of an open window to keep the flame steady while it’s burning. Air drafts can also cause black burn marks on a candle’s container.

Do you want to fix a tunneled candle?

While the advice above is important for when you burn a new candle for the first time, what if you already have a candle with a tunnel down the middle? Here are some tips for fixing that problem. Let’s see all the options:

How to stop candle tunneling with foil

The next time you light your candle, cover the top of the container with aluminum foil. Poke a hole in the middle at least an inch wide so that the flame gets enough oxygen to burn. Allow the candle to burn long enough to melt the wax to the edge of the container. The aluminum foil helps hold in enough heat to melt the entire surface of the wax. You can also use a metal candle topper that works just as well.

How to fix candle tunneling without foil

For candles with deep tunnels, the aluminum foil trick might not be effective. Let’s look a the other fixes

Remove the extra wax

To even out the wax in a candle quickly, scrape off the excess with the back of a spoon or butter knife. Carefully remove the unmelted part and set it aside. When you are finished, your candle should burn evenly. Don’t throw away the excess wax! You can use it in a wax melter or melt and pour it into a new container, add a wick, and turn it into a new candle.

Try a mug warmer

If you want to enjoy the scent of your candle but the wick has almost burned down, try using a mug warmer. These small hot plates can heat the entire candle to melt the leftover wax, bringing out its aroma. Because there’s no flame to heat the wax, this approach won’t cause it to disappear. You can reheat your candle on a mug warmer over and over again, but it will lose its scent with time.

Try replacing the wick

If your candle flame is flickering or sputtering, it might be time to replace the wick. To do this, remove the old wick by melting it in the oven or a double boiler and then center a new wick in the center of the candle container. Carefully pour the melted wax into the container, ensuring that the wick remains in place. Let cool for at least 24 hours before lighting again.

End Note

Now that you know all about candle tunneling, you can enjoy your favorite candles without worrying about whether they’re properly burning. If you’re looking for luxury hand-poured candles in various sizes that will fill your home with the perfect ambiance, Aluminate Life has exactly what you’re looking for. We offer candles made from a proprietary blend of all-natural coconut wax scented with essential and natural fragrance oils. Our 100% cotton wicks provide a clean, nontoxic burn that lasts up to 80 hours. Shop our collection of candles today!


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