Common Candle Burning Mistakes You Might Be Making

I know not everyone loves them, but in our house, we are big candle fans! I use my candle warmer (more on this favorite gadget below) whenever I’m working in my office. I adore the warm glow and the fragrant smells while I work.

Are you making these candle burning mistakes?

Finn’s the same down in the basement. Whenever I walk down there, I’m always greeted with masculine notes of sandalwood or oak during his work day.

Our favorite candle fragrance

Then, whenever we’re having people over, I always light my favorite candle because the smell permeates the entire house. I swear we get compliments on the scent every single time.

Candle Burning Mistakes You Might Be Making

Are you making these common candle burning mistakes?

So, it’s safe to say that the Finn family is all about candles. But even though I’m a candle junkie, I have made some common candle mistakes in the past. If you want your candles to last a long time, then avoid these candle mistakes.

You Don’t Trim The Wick

Be sure to trim the wick

Whenever I buy a new candle, I always trim the wick down before the first burn. It’s supposed to be about 1/4th of an inch in length. If you keep a long wick, then a big flame will burn and you’ll have soot all over your beautiful new candle. Don’t do this! Instead, trim the wick right away.

Be sure to trim your wick

Wick trimming is a good idea for subsequent burns too. I used to just use regular scissors, but I purchased this wick trimmer and it’s now one of my favorite candle accessories. It collects the candle wick as it cuts, so it doesn’t get your candle all messy.

You Don’t Burn It Long Enough

Are you making these candle burning mistakes?

I’m definitely guilty of this candle burning mistake. When you light a candle, you need to let the wax melt all the way to the edges on that first burn For a larger candle, this could take several hours.

Tunneling in a candle

Wax has “memory” so if you extinguish it before it melts to the edge of the candle, it will prevent a full, even pool from from forming the next time you light it. This is when tunneling happens in the center of your candle and it burns down quickly.

Whenever I get a new candle, I try to light it for at least two hours so it burns evenly (even longer if it’s a big candle). If you only let your candle burn for thirty minutes at a time, then you’ll go through it a lot faster and you’ll waste a lot of wax.

You Burn It For Too Long

Don't burn your candles for too long. That's a common candle burning mistake

So there’s not burning your candle for long enough and then there’s burning it for too long. Neither are good for your candles.

Whenever we’re hosting, I always light a candle before guests arrive and often don’t extinguish the flame until many hours later. This isn’t good because the candle can overheat. Besides being a fire hazard, the wick can float to the side and the candle won’t burn evenly anymore. The recommended burn time is often no more than 4 to 6 hours.

You Burn It To The Very Bottom

This is another no-no. It can be tempting to use up every ounce of wax in your candle, but don’t let it get to the very bottom. The vessel can overheat if you get down to the last 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch. So stop before your candle wax gets too low.

You Don’t Snuff It

Put the lid on the candle when blowing it out

I usually buy candles with lids and instead of blowing out the flame, I put the top on to extinguish it. The lids also come in handy to keep dust off the candle. If yours doesn’t have a lid, then you can use a candle snuffer. I think they’re kinda fun and the one in this kit works great.

Instead of blowing out the flame and creating a smoky room, snuff it! That way the aromas from your candle will linger throughout your home.

You Don’t Re-use The Candle Container

Be sure to re-use the jar of your candle

Most of the candles I buy come in really gorgeous jars and I love to re-use them around the house. I shared this tutorial, outlining the steps to remove the leftover wax and save a candle jar. It’s so easy and I use them to store all kinds of goodies around the house.

My Favorite Candle Accessories

Now, before we dive into my list of favorite non-toxic soy candles, here’s a peek at some of my favorite candle accessories…

candle accessories round up

Candle Warmer // Cloche // Pedestal // Trimmer // Electric Lighter // Wick Dipper // Match Holder // Snuffer // Tray

A special shout out to the electric lighter and candle warmer. The electric lighter is flameless, windproof, and rechargeable! No lighter fluid necessary. It also has a safety lock, which makes this mama happy.

Using the candle warmer in my office

Then, my candle warmer. I bought this earlier this year and it’s one of my favorite purchases. Instead of lighting candles in my office, I just use this. It warms up the wax and the smell permeates the entire room.

My candles burn evenly and last a lot longer. I also like that I don’t have to constantly snuff my candles when I leave the room. I can just easily turn the lamp off. Plus, no smoke and no soot. I highly recommend trying out one of these!

The Candle Debate – Are They Bad For Your Health?

My best tips to style a round coffee table

When I put out a question box on Instagram asking for your favorite candles, I also received a few questions about candles affecting your hormones, overall health, and the environment. I’m certainly not an expert, but I did find some really interesting articles that you can dive into if you want to read more. This one was good as was this one from the New York Times. I would do your own research to figure out what’s right for you and your home.

In short, most concerns about candles are overblown and there isn’t much scientific evidence to support that they’re bad for your health. But, there is research that suggests that the quality of the candle matters. This made my ears perk up because I’ve been known to find a good-smelling bargain candle and run with it, which isn’t always a good thing…

Choose High-Quality Candle Materials

Be sure to choose candles with high-quality ingredients

The wax type is definitely something you want to pay attention to. Paraffin wax can generate greater emissions, so you want to avoid it. Soy, beeswax, and coconut wax are usually the way to go. Just make sure it’s 100% soy wax and not a blend. I thought this article had a lot of interesting insight about choosing healthier candle materials.

For a long time, lead was used in candle wicks until it was federally banned in the US in 2003. Now, you’ll mostly find cotton wicks on the market which are much safer! Just be aware if you’re buying any candles from overseas as they might not have the same lead regulation.

Of course, these non-toxic candles usually come with a higher price tag. But if you want to minimize risk, sticking with fancier candles is your best bet!

The Best Candles To Try

Now that we have a better sense of how to burn candles and which ones to shop for, let me share some of your amazing candle recommendations, along with any notes you shared about them. These are all non-toxic and high-quality scented candles.

9 of the best non-toxic candles to try

If Candles Aren’t For You, Try A Reed Diffuser

Try a reed diffuser in your bathroom

And if after reading all of this, you’re still not a candle fan, then I suggest trying out a reed diffuser. This is my favorite brand. I have one in each of our bathrooms and our laundry room and I turn the sticks every few weeks. They make each room smell divine.

Go Forth & Get Lit!

Common candle burning mistakes you might be making

I hope you guys found some new fresh scents to try in today’s post. Oh, and since it’s fall, be sure to try this DIY cozy candle holder. It takes two minutes to make and hides any ugly labels on your candle!


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.