While you might think burning candles is as easy as striking a match and lighting the wick, there’s actually a specific finesse to the act. We got the secret scoop from Mary Wallace, Marketing Manager for Diptyque, the luxury French candle company, who has candle burning down to a science.
For starters, a brand-new candle should be treated with extreme care. If you want it to last, you can’t just light it up and let it burn. There is, in fact, a special series of directions that you should follow right after purchasing. First, you must trim the wick. Wallace recommends cutting it to about half a centimeter, which will help your candle burn longer and without the black soot. (You know those little flakes that turn your white candles to an ugly muddy gray mess—or waft up to the ceiling and create ugly black shadows?) Just don’t trim it down too close to the wax, or you’ll have trouble getting it lit. Once you’ve trimmed the wick to a half-centimeter, you can then light your candle. However, be sure to pay close attention to its maiden burn.
“It is critical to ensure that the first time you burn the candle, the entire surface area becomes liquid, ” Wallace says. “This will ensure that the wick soaks up the paraffin and that the candle will burn evenly down to the bottom.”
It’s important to know that not all candles should be burned for the same amount of time. The smaller the candle, the less time it should burn at one go. As a general rule, you should avoid burning any candle, no matter how big, for longer than two to three hours because it can cause the wick to move off center, which is extremely dangerous if the flame becomes too close to the side of the holder, even if it’s glass. And if you want to keep your candle in near perfect condition, consider spending a few extra dollars on a candle lid, “which will snugly fit atop your vessel and protect the integrity of the fragrance as well as the surface area from being covered in dust,” says Wallace.
So next time you buy a new candle, follow these tips, and you’ll be burning it many times over. Or maybe you’re looking for a DIY candle craft? Here’s how to make rose-scented candles right from your home.