This Smart Kitchen Hack Will Make Your Nice Candles Last Longer

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Scent can be polarizing. I find you’re either all about it — and want different candles, diffusers, plug-ins, and room sprays throughout your space — or it’s not for you at all, and everything from your laundry detergent to your dish soap is unscented. I definitely fall in the former group. I live for a good scented candle in my living room, bedroom, bathroom, and even kitchen. I’m someone who burns candles year-round — not just on the holidays. And from time to time, I have been known to splurge on fancy ones. So I find it extra annoying when the wick (or wicks) in an expensive candle starts to tunnel, or burn straight down the center of the candle instead of creating a full melty pool across the candle’s entire surface.

It’s not fun to look at, and it’s also a bad sign if you’re hoping to burn your candle again (and again) in the future. When your candle doesn’t burn evenly, it’s likely that you won’t get much use out of it. The good news is that you can rescue a slightly tunneled candle with this clever kitchen hack.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Set your oven to 175°F, and pop the candle in for about five minutes. The temperature of the air should be just warm enough to melt the wax, allowing the candle’s surface to level out again without disturbing its vessel. Scoop out any excess melted wax that flows over the wick(s) if need be, and your candle should be good to go. You can also use a hair dryer to rehab a candle, if you want to try that, but the oven is quicker and easier, in my opinion.

Sometimes tunneling occurs because the quality of the candle wax isn’t great, and you get a bad burn from the start. But you can also contribute to tunneling by burning your candle improperly — anything from not trimming the wick to 1/4-inch before you light it to not letting it burn long enough the first time. Ideally, the first burn should be for three to four hours, in order to initiate even wax pooling now and for future burns.

So don’t light a new candle if you’re planning on running out of the house anytime soon. And if you like larger candles because the scent is stronger, be sure to shop for soy-paraffin wax blends (if possible) that have multiple wicks. A big candle with one center wick is almost guaranteed to tunnel, and lots of companies cheap out this way without consumers realizing it until they actually burn the candle.

Who knew candles could be such high maintenance?