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Everything you need to know about candles

Jar Candle on Table

Do you burn your candles correctly?

When you first light a new candle, you should let it burn long enough so that the whole top layer of wax becomes liquid, which could take several hours depending on the size of the candle.

If you don't, this might cause the candle to burn unevenly and tunnel (when only the wax near the wick melts and leaves a ring of hard wax on the outer edges).

Tunnelling Candle Image

 If your candle has started tunnelling, it can be saved however...

 First, cover the top of your jar candle with foil, then cut a hole in the centre of the foil where the flame will be. This encourages the hard outer wax to soften and melt evenly. 

repair a candle with tin foil

Let the candle burn for several hours with the foil lid to ensure the whole top layer is liquid. When it is liquid, let it cool and it will reset flat just like a brand new candle.

 A candle should not produce smoke when it's burning

 If the candle is smoking, it is likely that the wick is too long. Put the flame out, wait for the wick to cool and trim it to about a quarter of an inch in length.

 You can’t make a candle last longer by freezing it

 There are some rumours that say freezing a candle before lighting it will make it last longer. However, according to the National Candle Association, though it may initially burn slower than a room temperature candle, this effect will not last long as the candle returns to room temperature.

Others claim that freezing the wax cracks it and damages the candle.  So, whatever few extra minutes you might gain from freezing your candle, it's probably not worth it.

Do not blow out a candle.

 When you blow out a candle, soot and smoke is produced, and there is a risk of blowing droplets of hot liquid wax in the surrounding area, which may land on the furniture.  The best way to put out a candle is to use a candle snuffer, which puts the flame out by depriving it of oxygen. 

snuff out a candle


Not all candles drip.

 There are two ways in which candles are made to be dripless. It might be that the candle has a wider wick which absorbs the liquid wax. Or the other way involves making a thin candle from soft wax, then dipping it into a thicker wax that burns at a higher temperature.  When the wick is lit the inner core of soft wax melts quicker and is contained by the harder outer edge.

 Beeswax candles are naturally dripless, however, even these can drip if the wick is too long or they are near a draft.

 Candles have been made out of  insects and fish

 Tallow, a byproduct of beef fat rendering, was popular in Europe in the Middle Ages, however candles have also been made out of wax gathered from insects and moulded with seeds, beeswax, and various different plants. Candles are now mostly made from paraffin, beeswax or soy.  They have also been made using fish, actual whole fish.  Specifically the candlefish, or Eulachon as it has such a high fat content that it can be used as a candle whole.

  A candle flame doesn't always point up.

In normal conditions, a candle light points upwards as the flame warms the surrounding air, which then rises up and is replaced by cooler air. This creates the teardrop shape of a candle flame.

 Under microgravity, (i.e. on a space station) NASA scientists revealed that a flame will be spherical. This is because there is no gravity, therefore the heavier, colder gases would not be pulled down and no convection current would be created.

 A candlemaker or seller is known as a chandler.

 It derives from the Old French word "chandelier", which, before the advent of electricity, was a ceiling fitting made of several candles.

 Scented candles on the dinner table are only a good combination if you know what you're doing.

candle at dinner table

 The flavours experienced when eating food are a combination of taste and our sense of smell. So, naturally, scented candles at the dinner table will have an impact on the taste of the food.

 Putting candles on cakes is a tradition that dates back to Ancient Greece.

 Ancient Greeks would bring a cake decorated with candles so that it represented the glowing moon, to the temple of Artemis, the Goddess of the hunt and the moon.

 It did not become a birthday tradition until the 1700s when Kinderfesten became common. This was a birthday celebration for children, when a candle on a cake was used to represent every passing year, just as we do now.


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