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The Candle Burning Guide - Votive Candles

Question: Is it true that if I put some water in the bottom of a votive candle glass the glass will not crack?

NO!  I have no clue how this myth ever got started!.   Placing water in the bottom of a votive candle holder, or any other holder for that matter, only serves to give the person a false sense of security.  The candle must still be attended to.  The water in the glass can cause the candle to sizzle or spark.  In addition, should the base of the wicking become moist, the candle may not burn efficiently.  Quite simply, water and wax do not mix.

Some people have been told that water in the base of a votive candle will assist in removing the old wax from the holder.  This is not a good idea.  Votive candles when burned properly should have a small amount of wax remaining at the bottom that is the same width as the original candle (no enlarged pooling). (CAUTION: Allowing a votive candle, or any other candles, to burn until there is no wax remaining may result in an unwanted fire, fire damage, and or smoke damage as well as glass breakage or other damage.  Remember to always use care when burning candles and never leave a burning candle unattended.)

Question: Why do I buy votive candles that say "10" or "15" hours and they burn much less?

This is perhaps one of my favorite questions.  Votive candles are available in several different sizes and are almost always measured in hours of burn time.  The two most prevalent sizes are ten hour and fifteen hour.  While votive candle can vary in shape and design slightly, the idea behind them is simple.

Votive candles are designed to be burned in votive glasses, also called candle cups.  When using votive candles it is important to avoid some common mistakes.

1) Size.  This is perhaps the single most important mistake.  As mentioned in the question, tons and tons (literally) of wax is wasted each year due to improper votive candle burning!  How often have you burned a votive candle and ended up with a third of the burn time and a big puddle of messy wasted wax?   Well, it is all in the size of the votive candle holder!  Simple.  The votive candle MUST fit as tightly as possible within the votive holder.  This means that a votive candle that is 1 1/2" wide must NOT be in a votive holder that is 3" wide on the inside.  The wick can simply not draw the melted wax from that far.

So what do you do with all those beautiful votive holders that have been causing you to waste all of that work and dig out all of that wasted wax? Well, you certainly wouldn't want to throw them away!  The answer is simple.   All you need to do is place a smaller, simple candle holder within.  One holder found to be clearly the best, and extremely low priced, is commonly referred to as an "oyster cup".  This holder resembles nothing even remotely close to an oyster, yet it is quite the versatile holder.

2) Using no holder at all!  Also a common mistake!   Never place a votive candle on a flat dish or other flat candle holder.   Votive candles are designed to be burned in votive candle holders, and must be encapsulated in a proper receptacle while burning.

3) Don't interfere with the candle.  If it is burning well, leave it alone.  It is doing the job!

Question: My votive glass holder just cracked.  Why?

Votive candle holders crack.  Simple!  I know they shouldn't... but they do.  Anytime you have a burning candle in close proximity to a piece of glass, the possibility exists for this to happen.  First and foremost, this is one of the reasons why it is always important to remember to never leave a burning candle unattended!

A votive candle holder can crack, or fracture for several reasons.  Usually it is caused by the flame "moving" toward the side of the holder.  This can happen even if the wick was perfectly centered during manufacturing.  When a wick is noticed to have moved toward the side of the glass, simply extinguish the flame and reposition the wick with an toward the center of the glass.  Remember never to allow any foreign matter to remain in the glass after doing this (old matches, pencil bits, etc.).  Once the wax hardens, light the candle!

Votive candles holders can also crack due to size of flame.   Remember to trim the wick to a manageable and safe size.  Votive candles tend to burn optimally at around 1/2" in wick height.

Finally, while the trend of hand blown or rough cut glass tends to be a popular one, it is important to avoid votive candle holders in which air bubbles are present in the glass.  These air bubbles expand quickly with heat, causing the holders to crack or fracture easily.  These are more appropriate for decorating or novelty.


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