Don't Make These Candle Mistakes

Is there anything more guaranteed to boost your amount of Instagram likes than to stick a couple candles into the frame of your perfectly curated photo? The atmosphere that pretty little flame provides is undeniable, which is why it's key to avoid any candle mistakes you could be making. Yep, I know. Candles seem pretty straight forward (light the wick and leave it) but there are a couple sneaky tricks you could likely be doing to optimize your flame time.

I spoke with Carlos Huber, fragrance developer and founder of ARQUISTE, to find out more about how I was messing up my candle experience. His company sells those fancy kinds of candles you drool over on social media, so I figured he'd know a thing or two about how to get the most out of an $85 atmosphere enhancer. Of course, the quality of ingredients in the candle you're buying is important to note — something from the dollar store won't burn the same way as a piece you snag from a specialty retailer. However, there are few mistakes to avoid that will guarantee you're getting the most out of your candle, no matter how much cash you dropped on it.

1. Not Maintaining The Wick

The most crucial step in getting your candle off to a good start? "Trim that wick!" Huber insists. "When you first light your candle, the wick needs to be trimmed per most instructions, otherwise it will burn and smoke until the flame melts the wax underneath it." Uh, no thanks. And you shouldn't forget about the wick after the first time you light it, either. "As the wick burns it becomes black and sooty by nature," Huber explains. "That soot will rise up when you re-light the wick." So to avoid finding yourself in a cloud of black smoke, trim the wick every time you light.

2. Cutting The First Burn Time Short...

Huber insists that the way your candle performs for its entire life all depends on that very first burn. After you cut the wick, you'll need to keep the flame going for at least an hour "in order to make sure the wax always melts evenly without tunneling," Huber says. "If the wax at the edge of the candle doesn’t heat up and liquify this first time, then it will often stay hard for all subsequent burns." This means you'll get that not-so-cute tunneling effect (see my poorly burnt candle above) — and waste a bunch of precious wax.

3. ...Then Burning For Too Long In The Future

This one doesn't exactly affect how well your candle works, but it will be good news for anyone who's become addicted to candles that cost more than a fancy dinner (guilty). In order to keep your home smelling great, there's no need to keep the candle lit all day long. "A quality candle will release a scent that will easily diffuse and richly fill your space" after just an hour or two, Huber tells me. "An average candle's burn time is up to 55 hours," he continues. That means your candle should last for several months if you stick to this method!

4. Keeping It Close To The Wall

A pro safety tip from Huber: You want to keep your candles away from the walls. "Although candle wicks are designed to prevent high-rising flames, the heat or soot could still leave a mark," Huber says.

5. Using The Same Scent In Every Room

Although scent is a personal choice, if you want to get really advanced with your candle-ing, Huber recommends giving each room in your house a different aroma. "Certain scents fit the boudoir better than others, and the same can be said for the entry, living area and even bathroom," he says. He recommends "sexier, woodier candles" in the bedroom and scents like "tobacco, vanilla, and gin" to cozy up a living room. If you do opt to mix it up, avoid mingling scents by lighting them at different times (remember, it only needs to be lit for an hour) or keeping the doors shut.

6. Tossing The Lid

If you're buying a candle that comes with a lid, use it to cover your candle when it's not being used. "This way, you protect it from dust and you preserve the wax and its scent nicely," Huber says. When you are burning the candle, "the lid can also be used as a little elevation for you to place the candle on top, protecting the surface of your tabletop and adding a little finishing touch to the decor," he continues.

Now that your candle woes are properly sorted, don't be surprised if your friends start begging you to come over and relax more often.

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Image: inats/Fotolia; Courtesy Arquiste; Chelsea Francis/Unsplash; Pixabay (3)