- The Candle Burning Guide - Center Burning Candles

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The Candle Burning Guide - Center Burning Candles

Question: Why is it desirable for some candles to only burn down the middle?

Certain candles are designed to burn down the middle for different reasons, or a combination of different reasons.

Candles with a unique finish, or unique burning characteristic, may burn down the middle in order to position the flame inside of the candle and illuminate from the inside out.  This can also cause a refillable "well" to form, and allow the candle to be used over and over by placing a smaller tea light or votive candle in the well!

Question: What do I do after I have purposely gotten my candle to burn down the middle?

Once you have a "well" burned down the center of the candle, examine the base of the well.  Make certain that the base is level, and not tilted, or sloped toward the side.  If it isn't level, do so, either by controlled burning (allowing small amounts of melted wax to settle in the low spot(s), etc.) or by gently scraping the high spots.  In either case, use care.

Once you are certain the base is as level as possible, determine the type of refill you will use.  If the hole is quite shallow, and the candle quite small, a tea light candle is recommended.  These candles tend to have thin wicking and are ideal for this type of application.  REMEMBER to remove the tea-light from the metal cup when doing this!  Failure to remove the metal cup in this application may cause the cup to become hot, thus heating the wax below the well, and damage occurring.

If the hole is deeper, and/or the candle larger, a 10 hour votive candle may be appropriate.

Remember to obey the burning limits with the refill as you did with the initial burning.  Failure to burn the candle for a shortened period may cause the "well" and the balance of the candle to collapse or become deformed.

Once you have mastered the art of burning a "well" and refilling your candles, you are ready to enjoy the brilliance and beauty of your candles over and over at a substantial savings to you!

Question: How can I get my candle to burn ONLY down the middle?

It's a funny thing!  It seems that when you want the "well" you can't get it to form, and when you don't... you get the point.   Anyway.  Forming a near perfect "well" is quite simple.  The first, and most important rule is, WATCH THE CANDLE!  Simple, do what ever it takes to get that candle to burn only down the middle; if you see the sides are getting thin, extinguish the candle and let things harden up again; if you see the hole isn't quite round, extinguish the candle and move it to another location after it has hardened.   Some hints are as follows!

1) Limit the burning time in each session.  In other words, don't burn the candle for six hours straight! Chances are you'll generate too much heat and the sides will cave in, rendering your "well" non-existent!

2) Keep the candle away from drafts of all kinds.  While this important to do with all candles, regardless of their style, it is especially important in forming a near perfect refillable "well".  Keep in mind that a draft can be caused by anything from a home heating register, to an open window, or just to a lot of passer-by activity!

3) Remember to keep the size of the flame small!  Trim the wick!  In other words, remember, the smaller the flame, the smaller the amount of heat the candle will generate!  So use this information to control your candle's burning!

Good luck!  And congratulations on your anticipated success!!

Question: I was trying to get my candle to burn only down the middle, and the hole is not round!  What happened?

Almost always this is caused by a draft!  Not just an open window can be considered a draft.  Think about anything that could cause the flame to move around, uncontrollably.  This could be anything from a heating or cooling air register, or even just a constant flow of people walking by the candle as it burns.

Question: I bought a candle that was designed to burn down the middle.  I got a perfectly nice "well" down the center.  I put a tea light inside and now it is ruined!  What did I do wrong?  How can I avoid this?

Remember!  Once the candle has burned down the center you need to still maintain that "well" as you did to create it in the first place!  Remember, limit the burn time, and if you use a tea lite, remember to remove it from the metal cup prior to placing it in the well!  Click here for some more!

Question: I do not want my candle to burn down the middle only!  What can I do and how or why does it burn down the middle?

Question: Why does my pillar, ball, block, or other wide (over two inches across) candle burns down the middle, leaving a lot of unused wax.  I want the candle to burn all the way down and use all of the wax. (This question does NOT deal with a similar problem found in container type candles.  Answers to this problem with regards to container type candles can be found by clicking here.)

Answer: This can be caused by a number of factors.  It is important to remember that candles can be the same size and shape yet be very different in their burning characteristics. (For example, you can have two candles that measure 3 inches in width, and six inches tall.  They can both be off white in color, and they can both be vanilla scented.  In other words, these candles appear to be almost identical to the eye.

What is important here is to understand the basics of candle burning.  Sure, it is helpful if you can tell a thicker wick from a thinner wick, etc., but with some simple rules in mind, this problem can eliminated, and perhaps you may even discover it wasn't your doing after all!

(1) Maximize your burn time.  The number one reason for the unwanted "well" burning down the center is due to short burning sessions.  Try to burn the candle as long as it is SAFELY possible,  The more you burn the candle, the wider the well will become.  Eventually the candle will just continue burning straight down.

HINT: Do not allow the candle to burn too long as to cause the candle to drip.

IN OTHER WORDS: Avoid burning the candle for an hour or two, and then putting it out, and then, the next day doing the same.  This amount of time will not generate enough heat to correct the problem.

(2) You don't always have to trim the wick!   Yes, I know what the instructions may have told you, but let me explain!   Trimming the wick is primarily for two reasons. First, to help eliminate the chances of the flame smoking.  Second, to prevent a flame that may be dangerously too large.  The key here is to try to trim the wick as needed only.  For example, if the flame is very large, and black smoke is streaming, then try trimming the wick a small amount, let's say 20% of it's current length.  If the candle is still smoking, try trimming a bit more.  Continue doing this until the problem is solved.   Often, the wick is trimmed far too much in the initial trimming resulting in a wick that produces a far too small flame.  This small flame will produce an equally small "well" intensifying your problem!

HINT: Never allow a flame to become dangerously large.  An overly large flame, or an overly moving flame is dangerous.  Trim your candles with care, and only do so after extinguishing the flame.

(3) Stop pouring the wax out of the well!   Wax is a fuel, why would you waste it?  Only if the flame is being drowned by an overly excessive amount of wax should you even consider doing this. Most times this can be corrected in other manners.  Pouring the wax out of the well only increases the amount of heat you are going to need to melt the wax along the edge (the wax you are dumping is heated!).  So, try to avoid doing this.  I know some candles indicate to do this.  There really isn't much benefit to doing so.  It can also lead to premature dripping.  Candles are designed to burn, in most cases, from top to bottom, with little interference.  The general rule of thumb is that is a candle is burning safely, and producing the maximum amount of light, for the maximum amount of time, it is burning well.  Candles that drip, smoke, or cause you to dump excess wax, do not fall into this rule. (Why do some of's candles tell you to do these very same bad things?) 


Ok, this is entirely possible!  While there are a few other little tricks and hints, it is possible the problem may not be with your burning techniques.  Rather, they may be with the candle...

Examine the candle and compare it to those you may have burned in the past.  Does the wick appear thinner?  Remember, the thinner the wick, the smaller the flame.  The smaller the flame, the less heat generated.   The less heat generated, the less wax melted.  The less wax melted, the smaller the "well"

Hint: Some candles are specifically designed to burn down the middle.  They may have some decorative finish, or unique burning quality that would enhance the candle if the flame is able to go down into the center.   Examples of this is often found with glowing candles that are designed for their translucent nature.  These candles are especially difficult to burn entirely.

How about the wax?  While it is difficult to tell just by looking at a candle, it is important to understand that different candles can be made out of different types of wax.  The higher the melting temperature of the wax, the more you will have to burn the candle to utilize all the wax.  The inverse is true for softer wax.  Get to know the type of candles you are using, and with some time and experience, you will be able to differentiate among these types very easily!


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