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Why Your Wood Wick Candle Won’t Stay Lit (And How To Fix It)


The gentle crackle and unique flicker of wood wick candles make for a super cozy ambience, but they can be a little tricky to burn if you're not used to them.

Wooden wicks burn a bit differently than traditional cotton wicks do, and there are a few common issues that cause them to not stay lit.

But don’t worry!

If you remember just a few best practices, it should be smooth sailing and long clean burns from here on out :)


Here are our top 3 tips to get the best results from your wood wick candles:


1) The first burn is the most important - how to do it right

Give your candle enough burning time to develop a melted wax pool that goes all the way to the edge of the container on the first use - this can take up to a few hours, depending on candle size.

Believe it or not, your jar candles have a kind of “wax-memory,” and once a burning pattern has been established, it can be hard to change.

[Image: You can see the wax pool on this Man Candle has not yet reached the edge of the jar]

If you don’t allow your candle enough time to form a full melt pool on the first burn, a little depression or “tunnel” may start to form around the wick.

This will make it more difficult for the wax around the edges of the jar to melt, causing the tunneling effect to continue with each burn.

Eventually the tunnel will become too deep for fresh oxygen to flow in, and your candle will have trouble staying lit for more than short periods of time.

[Image: Huzzah! Look at that nice full pool of melted wax. Now this is a healthy candle!]

To prevent this issue, make sure to give your candle enough time to develop a melted wax pool that goes all the way to the edge of the container the first time you use it.

This is a good practice for all jar candles, not just those with wooden wicks!

This melt pool can take 2 hours or more to form, depending on the candle size, so wait to light up your new candle until you have some time to “burn” … sorry, I couldn’t help it! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

After the first use, you don’t have to let a full wax pool form every single time, but it is ideal if you want to get the most life out of your candle. Just make sure give your jar candles a nice long burn every so often to “reset” the wax memory and prevent any tunneling.

This will keep your candle looking great, smelling great, burning evenly, and all the other great things you want!

* If you’re experiencing the dreaded “tunneling” problem already, you may be able to fix it - see tip #3 below.


2) Keep your wood wick trimmed short and free of charred bits

For optimal burn, keep your wood wick trimmed to about ⅛”, and clean off any burnt wood from previous use.

[Image: Wire cutters or nail clippers work great for trimming wooden wicks]

Other than the tunneling problem, if your wood wick candle won’t stay lit it’s probably because the wick is too long, or it needs to be trimmed clean of charred material.

Remember it’s not the wood fueling your candle’s flame, it’s the wax. The flame is drawing the wax upwards through the wick, so if it’s not trimmed short and clean, the wax can’t make it to the flame.

For optimal burn, keep your wood wick trimmed to about ⅛” - this is shorter than you might think the wick should be - around the width of the metal part of a USB drive. You’ll also want to clean off any charred bits.

For trimming, we’ve always found an old set of nail clippers or wire cutters to work great. In a pinch, you can always use a napkin and your fingers to gently break off the burnt parts of the wick.

Just make sure to let your candle cool before trimming, as you don’t want any bits of ash or wick material left in the wax when you’re done. It’s much easier to clean this up when the wax is hard and cool!


3) How to fix a candle that’s tunneling:

If your wood wick or jar candle has developed some tunneling from shorter burns, you can usually fix it - here’s how:

First and best option: if your candle will stay lit, give it a good long burn until all the wax is melted to the edge of the jar, and you’ve effectively “reset” the memory of the wax.

The flame height may vary when you do this, but as long as there is still a burn, it should continue to create a melt pool, just be patient.

[Image: These Man Candles aren't really tunneling, but you can see the different stages of melt]

If your candle won’t stay lit because it is “drowning” in a wax pool, try using a paper towel or napkin to soak up some of the excess wax.

Then wait for a minute or so, relight your candle, and repeat until your wick has room to breathe!

If the above two won’t work, we’ve heard of people scraping out the wax near the edge of the jar, or even creating a little dome of aluminum foil around the rim of the container to help melt the hard wax at the edges.

Those are both last resort options though - so no guarantees!

[Image: Also not tunneling but a nice visual aid - excess wax can be removed with a paper towel]

Remember, prevention is better than cure - and if you follow the 3 best practices mentioned above, your wood wick candles should burn nicely!

Especially if they are made with high quality soy wax :)


Other quick tips for wood wick candles:


How to light a wood wick candle like a pro

You’ll want to light these differently from cotton wicks, but it’s very simple:

When lighting a wood wick candle, the best technique is to tilt it on an angle and let the flame draw across the length of the wick (kind of like how you tilt a match after lighting).

[Image: Tilt your candle to make lighting the wood wick easier]

It may also take several tries to get it lit! The heat from the flame needs to draw the wax through the wick before it will really start burning nicely. When in doubt, give it another try - once you get it going once, it should light up more easily.

Your wick shouldn’t produce any soot or smoke

We use very high quality and thoroughly tested wood wicks in our Man Candles … so combined with the pure & plant based soy wax and natural essential oils, these should burn extremely clean with no soot or smoke.

[Image: 100% pure soy wax & all natural essential oils = the cleanest burning candles possible!]

If you are experiencing any smoke from a wood wick candle it’s usually because the wick needs to be trimmed and the burnt parts cleared out, or there is a draft interfering with the natural burn.

If burning your candle for more than a couple hours sounds like a long time, consider a different style like tealights, votives, or smaller jar candles

As we mentioned before, it is a best practice to burn jar candles until the melt pool reaches the edge of the container, which can take 2 or 3 hours.

That isn’t always practical - so most candle lovers keep some other styles handy for shorter burns.

[Image: Smaller jar candles like our Votivo Jar are super convenient for short burns]

Our soy soy based  VotivesTealights, and “mini” jar candles like the Votivo Jar, are all perfect for quick relaxation breaks and convenient mood lighting.

Are wood wick candles eco friendly?

We’re so happy you asked! In addition to their unique style and aroma, our wood wick Man Candles are one of the most eco-friendly candles you can find.

Like all our products, these are made with pure plant based ingredients - 100% soy wax with no additives or dyes, blended with all natural essential oils for scent.

On top of that, the wicks are responsibly sourced from a premium supplier in the USA certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

And most exciting of all… For every Man Candle you purchase, we plant a tree on your behalf to combat climate change!

[Image: Buy a candle & we'll plant a tree! 1 way to send some ♥ to this cozy little planet]

We’re able to make this happen with help from our partners at TreeEra so you can enjoy the relaxation of some lovely soy candles and help heal the planet at the same time -- how cool is that?


We hope you found these burning tips helpful! 

If you have any other candle questions, don't hesitate to  get in touch with us! We love hearing from customers and fellow candle lovers.


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