Your Basket

Studio Series

Tips to Become a Candle-Burning Pro

Candles can turn a space into a home with their warmth and gentle presence, but they are not without their complications.

Here, we’ll share some tips that will answer your burning candle questions, such as “why is my candle burning down the middle?”, “why is the flame so large?”, and “why can’t I smell my scented candle?” Read on, and we hope these tips help you become a candle-burning expert.

Our top two tips we recommend to all our customers are:

  1. Trimming the wick for a cleaner, safer and longer burn: Trimming a candle's wick to 3/8” before burning helps ensure a smaller, safer flame, a longer burn, and less soot. Nail clippers do the trick or you can use a pair of wick trimmers. The width of your littlest finger is a good guide to the correct length. If you find that your wick is breaking when you trim it, try trimming at an angle so the trimmer is more parallel rather than perpendicular to the wick.
  2. The first burn is the most important: The first time you burn any candle, burn it for 2-3 hours. This will not only maximize the fragrance throw, but also help avoid “tunneling”—where the candle burns down the middle, leaving wax around the edges.

This candle’s flame is too large 

A flame that burns too high is also a flame that burns too hot. An exaggerated flame has three main drawbacks: aesthetically, it doesn’t look great; you may be burning through your candle faster and losing some precious burn time, and it is a fire hazard —if the glass isn’t thick enough, too much heat could shatter your candle’s container. A flame that is out of control, flashing, or smoking should be extinguished immediately. If you find that your candle flames are burning too high, there are two potential causes. One potential cause is that the wick is too “thick” — a decision by the manufacturer you can’t do much about. The other potential, and more common, cause is that the wick is too long and needs to be trimmed. A best practice is to trim the wick to 3/8 of an inch before each burn, ensuring the amount of “fuel” provided to your flame stays within your control. To trim your wick, you can use a wick trimmer, though we find nail clippers and Joyce Chen scissors do the job just as well. 

My candle is smoking

Smoke is created when the flame of the candle is unable to properly burn all the fuel (in the form of vaporized wax) efficiently due to a lack of oxygen. The result of this incomplete combustion is sooty carbon, as opposed to typical water and carbon dioxide.

Have you placed your candle in a draft? Assuming your wick is trimmed to the proper height to avoid an overly large flame, a draft can cause your candle to create smoke while it burns due to fluctuating air currents. Any bursts of air that cause your candle flame to dance around also cause your wick to use fuel at an inconsistent pace. Because the wick is drawing oil from the candle wax, a buildup of oils can occur within the wick when the flame fails to burn as much oil as it’s taking in. When the flame corrects itself, there is too much fuel to burn completely, resulting in the smoke and soot you see. A simple fix is to move your candle away from any fans, open windows or doors, air conditioners, and vents. This will ensure a smooth burn and limit smoking.

There’s a crater in my candle’s center

A common problem for candle lovers of all kinds is “tunneling,” a term for what happens when a candle only burns down its center, leaving wax residue on the edges of the container and creating a tunnel-like shape. After a while, this makes the candle nearly impossible to burn, as the wick can’t receive enough air to burn steadily, and is drowned out by melting wax above. Additionally, it’s a waste of wax, especially if you purchased a quality candle.

Fear not! This issue can be easily avoided by staying away from short burn times. The first burn in particular is critical: burning your candle for two to three hours on its initial run allows the wax to melt all the way out to the edges of its container. This will ensure that when your wax cools, the surface of the candle will remain even. Wax also has a “memory,” meaning it tends to follow the path of its last point of melting and cooling. Thus, burning a candle until the wax melts to its edges helps keep a consistent burn throughout the life of the candle. 

Another reason why the melt pool might not reach the edges of the container despite burning for hours is that the wick might be too small (which, unfortunately, you can't do much about). An attempted fix for tunneling is to remove some of the soft wax surrounding the wick to give the wick a better chance to melt the candle fully to its edges. 

My candle is sweating

There can be a few reasons for candle sweating, but the most common is the oil content of the candle. Some candles are scented with fragrance oils, and some natural waxes, such as soy or coconut wax candles, have a natural oil content that will occasionally sweat. In most cases, this is just something caused by temperature fluctuations and won’t affect the performance of the candle. Once the candle is out and cool, if preferred for aesthetics, you can use a paper towel to clean up any excess oil. 

Exposure to heat or humidity is the most common cause for sweating; hotter, damper conditions increase the odds that a candle sweats, all else being equal. It can help to keep a sweating candle out of direct sunlight or away from heat sources like radiators if you would prefer to avoid it.

 I don’t really smell anything

It can be quite disappointing to buy an expensive scented candle and discover that it doesn’t emit much of a fragrance. A candle’s scent throw is a combination of the fragrance itself, the heat of the molten pool of wax, and the surface area of the melt pool. 

To troubleshoot the problem, first try burning your candle in a smaller room, such as a bathroom or home office, in case the scent is simply subtler than expected. Also, try burning your candle for a longer period of time, as it may simply need a full melt-pool to diffuse the scent. If none of these things work, it could unfortunately just be a flaw in the candle’s creation; the fragrances used may not be potent enough or concentrated enough. This is a common issue when candle makers rely on how a candle smells when unlit. Consider purchasing your next candle from brands investing in high quality fragrances and who test their candle’s hot throw systematically.


Keep these tips in mind, and we hope they’ll help you feel like a candle pro the next time you burn a candle. If you need some personal candle assistance, our inbox here at Keap is always open to your questions! 

Get in touch anytime at

If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy our not-quite-weekly free newsletter where we share our lessons on our journey toward our regenerative vision, product launches, and behind-the-scenes happenings.

We left social media in 2021 because we found its current mechanics didn’t align with our purpose to facilitate connection to the natural world, our loved ones, and our own spirits. Since then, our newsletter has become a vibrant place for healthy conversation around topics ranging from alternative business ownership models to happy hour cocktail recipes.


What our readers say about it:

“It’s very thoughtful and not sales-y like all other marketing newsletters.”

“I like reading how a business is trying to be as progressive as possible in a capitalist system.”

“I normally delete emails from businesses but with the Keap newsletter I was actually interested in reading through! Made me feel that you guys really care about us and the work you do."

Recent Stories

From the Archives

Blog Homepage